Videos: Today's Military

    Inside a Navy Submarine(02:54)

    Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Crandall describes his job as a fire control technician on the USS Montpelier, a Navy submarine. In this capacity, Crandall is responsible for maintaining and operating computers related to the submarine's fire control system. Submarines are critical to the Navy because they can fire missiles or torpedoes at targets, and they can also help insert special forces into combat situations.

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Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Crandall: My name is Andrew Crandall. I am a fire control technician in the Navy, second class petty officer. I fix, maintain and operate a system of computers, all networked together as a fire control system. To sum it up, we use it to track contacts, shoot missiles, torpedoes, other things like that.

We train a lot on how to track and launch weapons against another submarine, if we were to encounter one. We do anti-surface warfare. We train a lot on how to shoot against surface targets. Strike warfare, which is shooting Tomahawk missiles.

Also, there's special operations if we wanted to place a SEAL team into somewhere. We could have them on board the submarine and plant them close to a coast, and then have them go up and do their mission, and they come back to the submarine.

There's really two different types of ways which we go out to sea. If we go in underways, which are shorter, normally we do that for a purpose. We'll go out to do an inspection, or an evaluation, and it's normally two to three weeks. We go out, and we come back in, and then we're trying to fix the boat, anything that's not working. Then all of this usually works up to a deployment, which is normally a six-month span of time. Those are fun because you get to pull into foreign ports.

I have to give the cooks a lot of credit. The food is pretty good. They do the best they can with what they have to work with. Most of the time the submarine is pretty steady, especially when we're under the water, the sea state doesn't really go down that far. If we're on the surface, it can get really rocky, but the weirdest part is when everything is level, and we change depth. The whole submarine will tilt, and it'll move to change depth, so it's kind of like walking uphill or downhill all of a sudden instantly.

I am six feet, three inches tall, and it is very hard. There are a lot of head knocks, and you learn them very fast. The rack space isn't too bad, but I find myself hunching over most of the time. It's odd when I catch myself hunching, and then I'll stand up straight, and it just kind of feels weird. If we've been underway for a while, and I realize I'm way taller than I feel like, and everybody around me is like, "You're taller than I remember."

I would say the hardest part about being on a submarine is the six-month deployment. Our main form of communication back home is email. When you pull into port, most everywhere has Internet, you know, and that's when you can break out your Skype and your instant messengers, and you can call home, and things like that, but for the most part, when we're underway it's pretty much just email.

The coolest part of the submarine is probably the whole World War II fighting another submarine, tracking it, shooting torpedoes at it, things like that. That stuff, I thought it was always pretty cool, and it's cool to actually have my job be related to that.