GROTON, Conn. (CBS4) – Coloradans would be proud to know that not only is the Navy’s most advanced submarine named after their state, but it has Colorado natives serving on board. One of the sailors serving on the newly commissioned USS Colorado is Petty Officer Paul Niswonger, inspired to serve by a Colorado hero.
“Sophomore year I was at Heritage High School where Danny Dietz went. So, I read ‘Lone Survivor,’ and it got me looking into Navy,” he told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.
Niswonger is currently balancing jobs as a food service attendant and training to work with the submarine’s nuclear reactor.
“It’s a great brotherhood. It’s a small community. We get to know each other very well,” he told CBS4.
CBS4’s Dominic Garcia and Photojournalist Rob McClure spent several days following around him and others on board the submarine, which is stationed in Groton, Connecticut. They saw everything from daily operations to where the sailors sleep.
“It’s very tight with respect to space, not much to work with. Got to be very innovative as far as storage. So if you’re packing for a six month deployment or even a one month deployment, got to be very innovative where you store your materials, your clothing,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Gaines.
Another Colorado native on board is Lt. Quinlan Melvin. The Arapahoe High School graduate also attended the Colorado School of Mines. He works in the control room and showed CBS4 the technology in the Navy’s most advanced submarine.
“We’ll certify our teams to make sure we can take the fight to the enemy. Whether that’s anti-sub warfare, making sure we can track submerged contacts from other nations, anti-surface warfare… being able to identify and locate their surface ships, follow them, track them,” he told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.
Quinlan says it’s a dream come true to serve on the submarine that’s named after his home state, and wants to thank everyone back home for their support.
“Thank you mom and dad, I think you already know this, but it’s probably nice to hear from your kids once and a while. You are the reason I am the man that I am.”
The USS Colorado was commissioned in March 2018. It’s longer than a football field, weighs 7,000 tons and is part of the Virginia Class of submarines.
This is the first of three stories that will be airing on CBS4. Make sure to catch the others on Feb. 5 and 6 and 10 p.m.