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Navy Petty Officer Brice McMillan, of Chattanooga, serves aboard USS Mississippi

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PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii – A 2005 Ooltewah High School graduate and Chattanooga, Ten. native is part of a select crew, protecting and defending America aboard the U.S. Navy's nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Mississippi.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Brice McMillan is a machinist mate aboard Mississippi, one of the Virginia-class submarines based at the Navy base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

“I like how this is a tight knit group of people, and that you know they are there for each other,” said McMillan.

Mississippi, commissioned in Pascagoula, Mississippi in 2012, is longer than a football field at 377 feet and can sail under the waves at more than 30 mph.

Mississippi, like all attack submarines in the Navy's fleet, can carry out an array of missions on the world's oceans in defense of America.

“The Navy's attack submarines are at the forefront of the nation's warfighting capabilities,” said Cmdr. Tory Swanson, commanding officer, USS Mississippi. “Our primary missions include hunting enemy submarines and surface ships, launching cruise missiles at enemy targets far inland, and covertly delivering special operations forces to the fight.”

Because of the demanding nature of service aboard submarines, sailors like McMillan are accepted only after rigorous testing and observation that can last several months. The crews have to be highly motivated, and adapt quickly to changing conditions.

“I am responsible for the chemistry and radiological controls in the engine room,” said McMillan.

In peacetime, our stealth allows us to observe the activities of potential adversaries,” said Swanson. “Nuclear power and the ability to make our own water and oxygen give our submarines unmatched endurance, allowing us to deploy anywhere in the world's oceans, unseen, and remain there as long as necessary.”

The training is demanding, as the crew needs to be ready to respond to any kind of situation that may arise while at sea and endure long periods of time submerged deep below the surface of the ocean.

“While Mississippi has some of the most advanced technology in the world, submarining remains a people business at the heart,” said Swanson. “Well-trained, well-disciplined professional Sailors are what bring the ship to life. When we go to sea, each of us entrusts our lives to the actions of every other crewmember. This requires an extraordinary amount of trust in each other. Those who wear the gold and silver dolphins signifying ‘qualified in submarines' have demonstrated that they embody these high standards of personal integrity, accountability and responsibility. Working with people like this is why I became a submariner in the first place.”

The rigorous nature of submarine service is challenging, but McMillan enjoys it and believes it makes the crew tighter.

“I enjoy being able to work with people who have the same goals,” said McMillan. “I like the idea of being part of something bigger than myself.”

Being an attack submarine sailor has meant spending a lot of time away from his friends and family, but McMillan believes in the work he is doing.

“It is satisfying returning from a deployment knowing how much hard work you have accomplished,” said McMillan.

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