An Ocala native is stationed at Naval Base Kitsap (NBK), homeport to west coast ballistic-missile and guided-missile submarines. Petty Officer 2nd Class Austin Buckner joined the Navy for a better life. Today, Buckner serves as a hull technician.
“I joined the Navy because I was at a point in life where the satisfaction of a normal 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job was no longer there,” said Buckner. “I knew there were bigger plans in store for me. It took me a few years to understand the value of the decision I was making, but I would not trade it for the world.”
Buckner attended Forest High School and graduated in 2003. Today, Buckner uses skills and values similar to those found in Ocala to succeed in the Navy.
“Growing up in a semi-small town, I grew up a patriot,” said Buckner. “Since joining the Navy I’ve learned lessons in my career that continue to apply to my life.”
These lessons have helped Buckner while serving at Trident Refit Facility Bangor.
Known as America’s “Apex Predators!,” 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 Virginia-class SSN is the most advanced submarine in the world today. It combines stealth and payload capability to meet Combatant Commanders’ demands in this era of strategic competition.
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. The Columbia-class SSBN will be the largest, most capable and most advanced submarine produced by the U.S. – replacing the current Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines to ensure continuous sea-based strategic deterrence into the 2080s.
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.
Strategic deterrence is the nation’s ultimate insurance program, according to Navy officials. As a member of the submarine force, Buckner is part of a rich 122-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 Buckner 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 is a direct and indirect show of presence and force,” said Buckner. “Our capabilities extend far greater than ships and submarines.”
With more than 90 percent 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.
A major component of that maritime security is homeported at Naval Submarine Base Bangor.
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.
Buckner and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.
“My biggest accomplishment to date is being awarded Junior Sailor of the Quarter,” said Buckner. “In order to receive this award, I was competing against 150 sailors. My work ethic and dedication to both the sailors working under me and the sailors in my chain of command are a few things that helped me receive the recognition of Junior Sailor of the Quarter.”
As Buckner and other sailors continue to train and perform the missions they are tasked with, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.
“This may sound like the most cliché statement, but I don’t do this for me,” added Buckner. “It’s fulfilling, but I do this for my family, friends and for everyone who would love to join the military but does not have the opportunity. Most importantly, I joined the Navy because I’m a patriot. I will do everything in my power to make sure my children absolutely respect our flag and our great country.”