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Face of Defense:

Swedesboro native continues tradition of service under the sea


By Megan Brown, Navy Office of Community Outreach

KINGS BAY, Ga. – Submariners make up only 10 percent of the U.S. Navy’s personnel, but they play a critical role in carrying out one of the Defense Department’s most important missions: strategic deterrence. Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Cox, a native of Swedesboro, New Jersey, is one of the sailors continuing a 123-year tradition of service under the sea to help ensure Americans’ safety.
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Josiah Trombley,
Navy Office of Community Outreach

Cox joined the Navy seven years ago and today serves as a machinist’s mate aboard USS Maryland.

“I joined the Navy because I wanted direction in my life and because I needed something else to do,” said Cox.

Growing up in Swedesboro, Cox attended Kingsway Regional High School and graduated in 2012.

Skills and values similar to those found in Swedesboro are similar to those required to succeed in the military.

“Growing up, I had really smart and good friends that ended up doing great things,” said Cox. “I have been surrounded by high-achieving people my whole life which has helped me excel.”

These lessons have helped Cox 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 conducting 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.

"Our mission remains timeless - to provide our fellow citizens with nothing less than the very best Navy: fully combat ready at all times, focused on warfighting excellence, and committed to superior leadership at every single level," said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations. "This is our calling. And I cannot imagine a calling more worthy."

Strategic deterrence is the Nation’s ultimate insurance program, according to Navy officials. As a member of the submarine force, Cox 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.

Serving in the Navy means Cox is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on strengthening alliances, modernizing capabilities, increasing capacities and maintaining military readiness in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The presence of submarines is important to national defense and the fact that we are able to go undetected is a testament to what we do and how well we do it,” said Cox.

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.

Cox and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.

“My proudest Navy accomplishment is being a part of junior sailor’s qualification processes,” said Cox. "Being a part of that and seeing them do good things makes me proud.”

As Cox and other sailors continue to train and perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.

“Serving in the Navy means being a part of a group with high standards,” said Cox. “We operate as a team, doing things that are harder than what the average person does. There are no days off for submarines. It is 24/7. I think being a part of the submarine community is pretty impressive. I am proud of that.”

Cox is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible.

“I want to thank my mother, Dawn, because I would not have joined if it was not for her support,” added Cox. “I also want to thank my wife, Maggie, for being so understanding of the hours I work and taking care of our home when I am gone.”