SANTA RITA, Guam – A 2018 Long County High School graduate and Hinesville native is providing a critical maintenance capability to the U.S. Navy’s submarine force in the Pacific as part of a hybrid crew of sailors and civilian mariners working aboard the expeditionary submarine tender, USS Frank Cable.
Seaman Apprentice Christian Robinson-Merrill is a personnel specialist aboard the Guam-based submarine tender, one of only two such ships in the U.S. Navy. The Frank Cable and its crew provides maintenance and resupply capabilities both in port and at sea.
A Navy personnel specialist is responsible for working in human resources, administrative work and processing paperwork.
Robinson-Merrill credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Hinesville.
“It’s important to have a strong work ethic and dedication,” said Robinson-Merrill.
Guam is also home to four Los Angeles-class attack submarines, Frank Cable’s primary clients, but the ship can also provide repair and logistic services to other Navy ships like cruisers and destroyers. The submarine tenders provide maintenance, temporary berthing services and logistical support to submarines and surface ships in the Pacific Ocean as well as the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean.
With a crew of more than 600, Frank Cable is 649 feet long and weighs approximately 23,493 tons.
According to officials at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet headquarters in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the ships, submarines, aircraft and Navy personnel forward-deployed to Guam are part of the world’s largest fleet command and serve in a region critical to U.S. national security.
The U.S. Pacific Fleet encompasses 100 million square miles, nearly half the Earth’s surface, from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle and from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean. All told, there are more than 200 ships and submarines, nearly 1,200 aircraft, and more than 130,000 uniformed and civilian personnel serving in the Pacific.
The integrated crew of sailors and civilian mariners builds a strong fellowship while working alongside each other.
The crews are highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches and drills.
“I enjoy helping people while serving in Guam,” Robinson-Merrill said. “That’s always been important to me.”
Serving in the Navy means Robinson-Merrill is part of a world 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.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Robinson-Merrill is most proud of leading a duty section while serving in the Navy.
“I can handle a great deal of responsibility that’s above my paygrade,” said Robinson-Merrill.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Robinson-Merrill and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy is a family tradition for me and I’m proud to continue my family’s legacy of service,” added Robinson-Merrill.