Orange man shares story, passion as U.S. Navy torpedoman

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, June 14, 2023

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KINGS BAY, Ga. – Submariners make up 10 percent of the U.S. Navy’s personnel and play a critical role in carrying out one of the Defense Department’s important missions: strategic deterrence.

Chief Petty Officer Norman Williams, a native of Orange, is one of the sailors supporting a 123-year tradition of service under the sea.

He joined the Navy 22 years ago and serves as a torpedoman at Trident Training Facility Kings Bay in Georgia.

“I joined the Navy to continue a tradition of family service and for the opportunity to travel and see more than my hometown,” said Williams.

Growing up in Orange, Williams attended Little Cypress Mauriceville and graduated in 2000.

“My hometown taught me you can always choose a different route and there is more to the world than just one location,” said Williams.

These lessons have helped Williams while serving in the Navy.

Known as America’s “Apex Predators,” the Navy’s submarine force operates a large fleet of technically-advanced vessels. These submarines are capable of 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, Williams is part of a rich 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.

“Submariners are a large part of the nuclear deterrence program,” Williams said. “We keep our nation’s waterways safe for all.”

With 90 percent of global commerce traveling by sea and access to the internet relying on the security of undersea fiber optic cables, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity of the United States is directly linked to trained sailors and a strong Navy.

“Serving in the Navy is a way of life,” Williams said. “It brings a lot of people from all over the world together to achieve goals that are bigger than just oneself.

“I would like to thank my wife, Lori, for being my driving force to keep going when I wanted to quit. I also want to thank my daughter, Sarah.

“I’ve dedicated 22 years to this great career and while our country might not always agree, I know in the end, everyone will come together despite our differences.”

— Written by Megan Brown, Navy Office of Community Outreach