By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Erica R. Gardner, Navy Office of Community Outreach
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jackson Brown
SANTA RITA, Guam – A 2011 Calvert High School graduate and St Leonard, Maryland, native is providing a critical maintenance capability to the U.S. Navy’s submarine force in the Pacific as part of a hybrid crew of sailors and civilian mariners working aboard the expeditionary submarine tender, USS Frank Cable.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Forrest Heinrich is a machinist’s mate aboard the Guam-based submarine tender, one of only two such ships in the U.S. Navy. The Frank Cable and its crew provides maintenance and resupply capabilities both in port and at sea.
A Navy machinist’s mate is responsible for radiological controls and ensuring proper disposal.
“I enjoy working with my hands and I like building things and the physical aspects of my job,” said Heinrich. “I like being able to make water and the aspects of every day life that are applicable in the civilian sector.”
Heinrich credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in St Leonard.
“My hometown has a nuclear power plant and there are many people in the area that know nothing about it or how it works,” said Heinrich. “Nothing ever clicked until now that I am working in the Navy. To be able to associate things I have seen and relate them to what I do now is amazing to me. I can understand what the local plant does as it compares to what we do on the submarines.”
Guam is also home to four Los Angeles-class attack submarines, Frank Cable’s primary clients, but the ship can also provide repair and logistic services to other Navy ships like cruisers and destroyers. The submarine tenders provide maintenance, temporary berthing services and logistical support to submarines and surface ships in the Pacific Ocean as well as the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean.
With a crew of more than 600, Frank Cable is 649 feet long and weighs approximately 23,493 tons.
According to officials at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet headquarters in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the ships, submarines, aircraft and Navy personnel forward-deployed to Guam are part of the world’s largest fleet command and serve in a region critical to U.S. national security. The U.S. Pacific Fleet encompasses 100 million square miles, nearly half the Earth’s surface, from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle and from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean. All told, there are more than 200 ships and submarines, nearly 1,200 aircraft, and more than 130,000 uniformed and civilian personnel serving in the Pacific.
The integrated crew of sailors and civilian mariners builds a strong fellowship while working alongside each other. The crews are highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches and drills.
“Having a nuclear speciality, I chose the submarine force because of the close knit opportunities,” Heinrich said. “The family aspect is the best part of being on a sub. There is a real appreciation for each other. There’s camaraderie and trust within the sub.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Heinrich is most proud of receiving a Navy and Marine Achievement Medal in 2015 for saving a person’s life.
“Saving the person’s life was something I did because I thought it was the right thing to do,” said Heinrich. “All the training I have had kicked in and I did not have to think about it. It just happened and I have a really good friend as a result.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Heinrich and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.
“I love serving in the Navy because it’s given me the opportunity to see the world,” said Heinrich.