A 2008 Sussex Technical High School graduate and Georgetown native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of a crew working aboard one of the world’s most advanced ballistic missile submarines, USS Alaska (SSBN 732).
Seaman Jason Rohlfing is a sonar technician serving aboard the Kings Bay-based boat, one of 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.
The ship measures 560 feet long, 42 feet wide and weighs more than 16,500 tons. A nuclear-powered propulsion system helps push the ship through the water at more than 20 knots.
The Navy’s ballistic missile submarines, often referred to as “boomers,” serve as undetectable launch platforms for intercontinental ballistic missiles.
They are designed specifically for stealth, extended patrols and the precise delivery of missiles as directed by the president. The Ohio-class design allows the submarines to operate for 15 or more years between major overhauls. On average, the submarines spend 77 days at sea followed by 35 days in port for maintenance.
“We demand the highest standards from Seaman Rohlfing, technically and personally,” said Rear Admiral Charles A. Richard, commander, Submarine Group Ten in Kings Bay, Ga. “His commanding officer, his country and I take great pride in his willingness to raise his hand and volunteer to serve the nation. The importance of our sailors is immeasurable; people like Seaman Rohlfing are crucial to ensuring our submarines are operating at their best and the mission is flawlessly executed. I’m so very proud he is on our team.”
Rohlfing is part of the boat’s Blue crew, one of the two rotating crews which allow the ship to be deployed on missions more often without taxing one crew too much. A typical crew on this submarine is approximately 150 officers and enlisted sailors.
Because of the stressful environment aboard submarines, personnel are accepted only after rigorous testing and observation. Submariners are some of the most highly trained and skilled people in the Navy. The training is highly technical, and each crew has to be able to operate, maintain, and repair every system or piece of equipment on board. Regardless of their specialty, everyone also has to learn how everything on the ship works and how to respond in emergencies to become qualified in submarines and earn the right to wear the coveted gold or silver dolphins on their uniform.
“I like working with computers and electronics; the technical aspects of my career keep it interesting. A select few people get chosen to serve on submarines, and it is a very tight-knit community. It becomes your family away from home. Working onboard a submarine travelling under the water is a reward in itself. Getting to do what I enjoy while serving underway makes it even better,” Rohlfing said.
“I joined the Navy to get more life experience, to see the world and set myself up with a challenging career. My grandfather was in the Navy, and my family is proud to see me carry on the tradition, putting on the uniform and serving my country. I hope to follow his advice and make a career out of my time in the military,” Rohlfing added.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Rohlfing and other USS Alaska sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.