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Clear Lake Native Serves as a Member of U.S. Navy’s “Silent Service”

A Clear Lake, Iowa, native is serving aboard USS Nebraska, one of the world’s most advanced nuclear-powered submarines.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Tofte serves as an information systems technician and joined the Navy for the opportunities the Navy provides.

“It was really the benefits of joining,” said Tofte. “I get a lot out of it like with tuition assistance for school.”

Tofte attended Clear Lake High School and graduated in 2018. Today, Tofte uses skills and values similar to those found in Clear Lake.

“I learned to put other people in front of yourself,” said Tofte. “One of the quotes in my baseball dugout was, ‘Don’t think less of yourself. Just don’t think only about yourself.’ That’s helped me build relationships with other people in the boat which made my job easier and made their jobs easier.”

These lessons have helped Tofte while serving aboard USS Nebraska.

Known as America’s “Silent Service,” the Navy’s submarine force operates a large fleet of technically advanced vessels. These submarines are capable of conducting rapid defensive and offensive operations around the world, in furtherance of U.S. national security.

There are three basic types of submarines: fast-attack submarines (SSN), ballistic-missile submarines (SSBN) and guided-missile submarines (SSGN).

Fast-attack submarines are designed to hunt down and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships; strike targets ashore with cruise missiles; carry and deliver Navy SEALs; conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions; and engage in mine warfare.

The Navy’s ballistic-missile submarines, often referred to as “boomers,” serve as a strategic deterrent by providing an undetectable platform for submarine-launched ballistic missiles. SSBNs are designed specifically for stealth, extended patrols and the precise delivery of missiles.

Guided-missile submarines provide the Navy with unprecedented strike and special operation mission capabilities from a stealthy, clandestine platform. Each SSGN is capable of carrying 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, plus a complement of heavyweight torpedoes to be fired through four torpedo tubes. As a member of the submarine force, Tofte is part of a rich 121-year history of the U.S. Navy’s most versatile weapons platform, capable of taking the fight to the enemy in the defense of America and its allies.

Serving in the Navy means Tofte is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The Navy isn’t only for national security,” said Tofte. “It’s also global security. We protect our allies and our citizens back home via sea, air, and land.”

With more than 90% of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through underwater fiber optic, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.

Strategic deterrence is the nation’s ultimate insurance program, and for decades Naval Submarine Base Bangor has been home to Ohio Class ballistic-missile submarines. Beginning in 2028, the new Columbia Class ballistic-missile submarines will arrive and provide continuous sea-based strategic deterrence into the 2080s.

Tofte and other sailors have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.

“Like most submariners, I’m proud of getting my ‘fish’ pinned on,” Tofte said. “It’s the biggest day in your Navy career. It’s like the captain saying he trusts you.”

‘Fish’ is a nickname for a type of certification sailors earn when they qualify on submarines.

As Tofte and other sailors continue to train and perform the missions to support national defense, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.

“It means that my family is proud of me and I’m protecting people who are just good people,” added Tofte.

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