U.S. Navy Public Affairs P etty Officer Second Class Harlie Williams III, a 1992 graduate of Southridge High School, is stationed aboard the nuclear fast attack submarine USS Newport News (SSN 750). He is one of more than 2,500 men and women of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard taking part in Fleet Week 2010 in Port Everglades.
This is South Florida’s 20th annual Fleet Week celebration of the maritime services, which continues through May 3.
For Williams, Fleet Week is a chance to spend time with family and friends and enjoy the South Florida scene. During his Navy career, he has visited ports all over from San Diego to Hawaii to Dubai.
As a submarine sonar technician, Williams and his peers serve as the eyes and ears of the boat while submerged below periscope depth. “We search for, detect and classify all manner of seagoing vessels for the purposes of navigational security and intelligence gathering,” Williams said.
But what does that really mean for Williams and his shipmates?
“It’s not like in the movie Hunt for Red October,” Williams continued. “Oddly enough, it’s more like the guy in the Matrix trilogy whose job is to look at a display and interpret all the goings on in the matrix. To someone on the outside, it all looks like a bunch of lines on a green screen. It takes a trained eye and a team of professionals to sift through all the data and come up with useful information that can make or break a submarine mission.”
Williams enlisted in the Navy 14 years ago to see the world, serve his country and reap the benefits of being a Navy veteran. Several of Williams’ family members also served in the Navy, including his cousin Ronnie Kiel, who was a great inspiration to him. Williams said Kiel was one of the first black chiefs of the boat on a nuclear ballistic missile submarine. Chief of the boat is the senior enlisted position, difficult to attain and highly revered in the tight-knit submariner community.
Fast-attack submarines such as the Newport News, are multi-mission capable — able to deploy and support special forces operations, disrupt and destroy an adversary’s military and economic operations at sea, provide early strike from proximity, and ensure undersea superiority. The submarine is 360 feet long, displaces 6,900 tons of water, and can travel in excess of 25 knots. Newport News’ armaments include Tomahawk cruise missiles and MK-48 advanced capability torpedoes.
During the visit to Port Everglades, Newport News, as well as other participating ships and units from the United States, Canada and Germany, will take part in various community relations projects, parades and celebrations. This event also provides an opportunity for the citizens of South Florida to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as see, firsthand, the latest capabilities of today’s maritime