Spartanburg native serves as a member of U.S. Navy’s submarine force

Lee Hughes (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Whitley)

Lee Hughes (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Whitley)

BANGOR, Wash. – A Spartanburg, South Carolina, native is stationed at Naval Base Kitsap (NBK), homeport to west coast ballistic-missile and guided-missile submarines.


Lt. Lee Hughes serves as the legal officer for Submarine Readiness Squadron 31 and joined the Navy to follow family tradition and use the education received for the benefit of the service.

“My father was in the Navy and his military service inspired me to join,” said Hughes. “I also joined so I could use my law degree in the Navy.”

Hughes attended George C. Marshall High School in Falls Church, Virginia, and graduated in 2009. Today, Hughes uses skills and values similar to those found in Spartanburg.

“A smaller town teaches you a sense of community and about working on a team,” said Hughes. “They also instilled in me a hard work ethic from a young age.”

These lessons have helped Hughes while serving aboard Submarine Readiness Squadron 31.

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, Hughes 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 Hughes 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.

"Having a presence on the water shows our strength, and always being forward-deployed means we are key to national defense,” said Hughes. “With all of our different job tasks, we make up a very diverse team.”

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.

Hughes and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.

“I'm proud of my job at the command, the number of sailors that I'm in charge of and being the sole legal officer for three squadrons,” said Hughes. “I'm sought out by high-ranking officers for legal advice as the subject matter expert.”

As Hughes 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.

“Serving in the Navy to me, means ensuring justice for all service members and their families,” added Hughes. “I’m proud of being a part of the Navy and continuing the tradition of my own family.”


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