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Lt. Ana Maring
Navy Office of Community Outreach
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — A 2011 Prairie View High School graduate and Thornton native is serving aboard a U.S. Navy attack submarine, the USS Texas.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Eloy Espinoza is a machinist mate aboard the Hawaii-based boat, a Virginia-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, and the first submarine to be named after the Lone Star State.
Measuring 377 feet long, 33 feet wide, weighing 9,000 tons when submerged and with a complement of more than 130 sailors, USS Texas is one of the Navy’s newest and most technologically sophisticated submarines.
Attack submarines are designed to pursue and attack enemy submarines and surface ships using torpedoes. They also carry cruise missiles with conventional high-explosive warheads to attack enemy shore facilities. They also conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, mine laying and support special operations.
As a young sailor, Espinoza said his greatest accomplishment in the Navy is qualifying as a submariner which is also called earning their dolphins. He added he knew nothing about the Navy when he joined but one the best parts of the Navy is he has learned to trust other people.
“I can save their life and they can save mine. It’s about helping the next guy out and making sure the guy next to me has the same level of knowledge,” said Espinoza.
Texas, along with all other U.S. Navy submarines, is manned solely by volunteers from within the Navy. 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.
Although it is difficult for most people to imagine living on a submarine, challenging submarine living conditions actually build strong fellowship among the crew. The crews are highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills where Sailors learn to rely on others, and learn they must be relied upon themselves. The submarine environment is demanding, but these demands and the trust crew members have for each other, help make the crew perform better as a team.
Espinoza said he is glad he will get to leave a mark as part of the Texas’ 130-member crew, protecting America on the world’s oceans. Imagine working and living in a 377-foot long, 33-foot wide, three-story building with no windows and surrounded by technology. Then lock the doors, submerge beneath the surface of the ocean and travel silently underwater for months. This requires a tremendous amount of skill, knowledge, personal discipline, and teamwork.
“I’m very proud of all USS Texas Sailors and equally impressed with the type and quality of work that goes aboard this submarine each day,” said Cmdr. Andrew C. Hertel, Texas’ commanding officer. “Our team is filled with highly qualified young adults, reliable, flexible, and ready to respond worldwide at any time. Their work ethic, enthusiasm, and esprit de corps are second to none and they are the backbone of the Navy’s undersea warfighting capability. With crew members like Espinoza as part of our team, everybody knows you ‘Don’t Mess with TEXAS.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Espinoza and other USS Texas Sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.
“I put myself to a higher standard and get stuff done,” said Parker. “It’s like a team sport. I carry my own weight and work with everyone else, keeping that tradition of high standards.”