Spiro sailor maintains undersea rescue mission readiness

Chief Petty Officer Jarod Gray // Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Alex Diaz
Chief Mass Communication Specialist Bill Steele
Navy Office of Community Outreach

A 2000 Spiro High School graduate and Spiro native is serving aboard the U. S. Navy’s only capable Undersea Rescue Command at Submarine Squadron 11.

Chief Petty Officer Jarod Gray is a Navy logistics specialist submarines serving with URC.

A Navy logistics specialist submarines is responsible for submarine supply, maintenance and repair of consumables.

“We keep up to 70,000 line items of inventory in a very confined space,” Gray said. “I'm the end-all and be-all for people to get equipment, so I have to be very dependable.”

Gray credits success in the Navy to many lessons he learned growing up in Spiro.

“It's a very veteran-based area, being in the south,” he said. “Everyone keeps their nose clean because everyone knows you. Respect goes a long way, too, and that's helped me very much in the Navy.

Submarine Squadron 11 is home to the floating auxiliary dry dock USS Arco and Undersea Rescue Command. The squadron staff is responsible for providing training, material and personnel readiness support for all units. Arco is under the operational control of Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Submarine Squadron 11, commanded by Capt. Christopher Cavanaugh, also consists of five of the most capable fast-attack nuclear-powered submarines in the world; USS Pasadena, USS Alexandria, USS Scranton, USS Annapolis, and USS Hampton and are maintained by Arco.

“We go where others can’t” is the motto of SUBPAC and is perhaps one-of-the-most difficult and demanding assignments in the Navy. According to Navy officials, there is not an instant during their tour as a submariner that they can relinquish their responsibility thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface.

The most recent example was in early November 2017, when the URC received the call to mobilize its submarine rescue unit. For the first time in more than 15 years sailors were quickly loading equipment and systems onto military aircraft within 24 hours for a real-life rescue mission off the coast of Argentina where the ARA San Juan had lost contact.

The command constantly trains, both in the U.S. and with foreign navies, to be ready for what is a rare occurrence: the need to perform an undersea rescue. URC conducts its mission using deep submergence systems including a remotely operated underwater vehicle, submarine rescue chamber, pressurized rescue module and side scan sonar.

Submariners and their crews remain the tip of the undersea spear and supporting them is SUBPAC’s primary mission and is essential to keep submarines and crew ready, effectively employed, and equipped with the best possible tools and enabling capabilities. This work is to maintain U.S. undersea superiority. The Force is truly “forged by the sea.”

The legacy of the Pacific Submarine Force, established in World War II, continues today. Armed with the finest ships in the world, manned by the most professional sailors, the Pacific Submarine Force will continue to ensure America’s critical access to the world’s ocean trade routes, provide credible defense against any hostile maritime forces, and project power from the sea to the shore when needed.

Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Gray, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Gray is honored to carry on that family tradition.

“My brother was prior Navy, and my grandfather was a retired chief," Gray said. "They had very big influence on me joining the military.”

Gray’s proudest accomplishment so far was making chief petty officer.

“It's made my dad very proud,” he said. “I made chief three years faster than he did.”

As a member of the U.S. Navy’s silent service, Gray and other URC sailors know they are a part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.

“I'm very patriotic,” Gray said. “I think everyone should serve at least four years in the military. Freedom isn't free. We take for granted what we have on a daily basis.”