Charlotte Native Serves With Navy Combat Ship Squadron

by Rick Burke, Navy Office of Community Outreach

SAN DIEGO - A 2006 David W. Butler High School graduate and Charlotte, North Carolina, native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the staff assigned to Commander, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One (COMLCSRON ONE) supporting the country’s most versatile combat ships.

Petty Officer 1st Class Nicholas Sookbir is a gas turbine systems technician (electrical) serving with Commander, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One based in San Diego, California.

A Navy gas turbine systems technician operates, repairs and performs maintenance on electrical components of gas turbine engines, main propulsion machinery, auxiliary equipment, propulsion control systems, and assigned electrical and electronic circuitry.

"What I enjoy most is the team camaraderie," Sookbir said. "Coming from a smaller ship you always like that tight knit group of people that is just like family. That’s what the LCSRON combined engineering team is like. You are with family everyday on the ship from sunrise to sunset. You are out there working together, enduring the same pain and training sailors. It’s frustrating at times because teaching someone is not always what it’s cracked up to be, but being there to see the progression of these young sailors makes you feel proud about what you do."

Sookbir credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Charlotte.

"I was born in Trinidad and Tobago and moved to the U.S. when I was two years old," Sookbir said. "Being an immigrant, growing up under my family’s values and coming from poverty brought me a long way. I learned the value of a dollar and the value of hard work and how they both pay off. My dad came here with just me, my sister and my mom, with nothing but one backpack full of clothes. He made it so far, and now owns a landscaping business and is very successful and my mom owns her own hair salon. Our family is a bunch of entrepreneurs and now, both my brother-in-law and I are in the military, doing very well for ourselves.”

The mission of COMLCSRON ONE is to oversee training, maintenance, manning and certification of LCS crews and ships to provide combatant commanders with flexible, agile and lethal assets able to operate effectively in the littoral environment.

LCS technological benefits allow for swapping mission packages quickly, meaning sailors can support multiple missions, such as surface warfare, mine warfare, or anti-submarine warfare. Designed to defeat threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft, littoral combat ships are a bold departure from traditional Navy shipbuilding programs. The LCS sustainment strategy was developed to take into account the unique design and manning of LCS and its associated mission modules.

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Sookbir is most proud of receiving his qualification for Engineering Officer Of the Watch as a petty officer second class.

"I am most proud of the EOOW because the commanding officer would only let chief petty officers and above earn this qualification," Sookbir said. "Then they let one petty officer first class get it, and they never had their eyes on any petty officer second class until I proved that I was competent and trustworthy enough. It takes a great deal of respect for a CO to award an EOOW to a second class because as an EOOW, you’re one of only three people running the ship when the CO is sleeping. The three Battle “E”s are important because they represent the team work, sacrifice and effort that the crew puts together in order to be one of the best ships in the Navy."

"GSE1 is a mission focused and career-minded sailor that carries himself above his pay grade," said Senior Chief Machinist's Mate Dewayne C. Johnson, Maintenance/Material Readiness departmental leading chief petty officer. "He makes my job as a leader easy."

Sookbir has military ties with family members who are serving and is honored to be the first to carry on the family tradition.

"I am the first one from the family in the military, but my brother in law joined shortly after me," Sookbir said. "I met my brother-in-law at church before we were both in the Navy and before he married my sister. I was the influence for him joining the Navy and he is now a petty officer first class. I joined when my mother cut hair for a Navy recruiter, she introduced me to him after I expressed interest in joining."

"The biggest influence since I have joined the Navy has been my mentor GSCS Landry," Sookbir added. "He is my biggest supporter and he taught me almost everything I know. We worked together on USS Simpson where he was my chief, and on USS Farragut, where he was my top engineer."

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Sookbir provides a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.

"There is no other job that is going to have the type of family bond with your co-workers, that you have in the Navy," Sookbir said. "No other job will take you to the places that I have been to. I am just in awe at everything the Navy does for its sailors. The Navy does require you to make sacrifices but it pays off in the end." 

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