The Seventh Sailor

Colten Hubbard loves small-town Hermann, Missouri. He would have stayed there forever, if it weren’t for all six of his siblings. One by one, he watched them all join the Navy. They explored the world, fostered successful careers and grew to be pillars of the community. He envied their adventure and began to wonder if he wanted more, too. The last of the seven to join, Colten is ready to break outside his comfort zone and into the prestigious world of nuclear engineering in this latest episode of Faces of the Fleet.

An Idyllic Midwestern Childhood

When you pull up on the long driveway outside the Hubbard’s family home just a mile outside of Hermann, Missouri, you’re quickly transported to pastoral America. Surrounded by acres of farmland with no neighbors in site, Colten’s childhood home is harmony at its best, free from the sound of traffic or temptations of the city.

Hermann itself is one of America’s true gems, located in the middle of Missouri’s wine country with just 2,500 inhabitants. This is where Janet and Tim Hubbard raised four girls and three boys in a household run by self-discipline and strong American work ethic. Born within two years of each other, there was always a healthy amount of sibling rivalry to propel them towards a life of adventure.

The Hubbard siblings grew up playing together on their parents’ farm and working together at the family store, Village Market. Naturally, the whole family was an integral part of a community where everyone knows each other by first name.

The First Hubbard Child Leaves

Janet and Tim knew there was no way they could afford college tuition for each of their seven children. Nonetheless, they always knew the kids needed to leave Hermann to explore the world. After all, Hermann offered very little in terms of jobs or resources for its youth. Little did they know how literally their children would take that advice.

With limited career options, Austen, the eldest Hubbard child, saw the Navy as a golden opportunity to get an education and to explore the world after he graduated high school. Even though no one else in his family had ever served, he was attracted to the discipline and structure Navy life would give him, as well as the family-like camaraderie between Sailors that he was so used to at home.

Austen had qualified for the Nuke Program, which is known as the most academically challenging program in the entire Navy. Only the best of the best make it as Nukes, so Janet and Tim were hugely proud, albeit nervous. Austen served as a Nuclear Mechanic, working on ships such as USS Enterprise, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. No one suspected the domino effect Austen’s decision would have on the entire Hubbard family.

The Navy Domino Effect

It wasn’t long before Austen’s sister, Nina, also caught the Navy bug. After hearing the stories from Austen about the tight-knit community at sea, Nina realized the Navy would be a great opportunity for her to build a life for herself. Just like her big brother, she too qualified for the Nuke program. Faced with a simple future in Hermann or a life of adventure, one by one the Hubbard siblings started signing up for the Navy as soon as they graduated high school. Elissa joined as a CTI. Logan followed as another Nuke. Janet and Tim couldn’t believe what they were witnessing. By the time Jessica and Mikaela had signed up, the Hubbard family had already become the talk of the town. The only one left in Hermann was Colten.

Colten is simply a humble young man. His love for Hermann and his family made small-town living much more appealing to him than it ever was to his siblings. He was comfortable, well-known in his community and felt no desire to change things. But with locals always curious about what the rest of the family was doing, or where his siblings were in the world, he began to change his mind. Seeing the admiration for what his siblings had accomplished in the eyes of his peers inspired him to strive toward greater ambitions.

The Seventh Sailor

The Hubbard siblings were stationed across the continent; the furthest away is Mikaela Hubbard stationed in Naples, Italy. While Austen and Nina have now completed their service with the Navy to pursue ambitious careers in the civilian world, Colten’s fondness for small-town America kept him grounded in Hermann.

In the summer of 2019, the youngest Hubbard decided, after much deliberation about the trajectory of his life, that it was time to venture into the great unknown. After scoring a perfect ASVAB score, a feat rarely achieved, Colten qualified as a Nuke, following in the footsteps of Austen, Nina and Logan.

Colten witnessed his brother Austen’s success at his post-service job at Tesla and therefore understands the priceless education and work experience the Navy will give him. He, too, can come back home to Hermann one day as a hometown hero, just like his six siblings.

Janet and Tim could not be prouder that their children not only took on a difficult task, and succeeded, but are serving their country. Tim constantly brags about his children’s service to any patron of his grocery store who will listen and Janet has realized that the Navy is so much more than just warfare. It’s a family and a platform for her beloved kids to see the world and experience the nuances of different cultures. While the seven of them are rarely home these days, Janet and Tim can smile knowing they’ve raised seven proud, hard-working Americans.

“The Navy really is like a whole new family. The United States Navy is the biggest Navy in the world, but it still isn’t so big as to where you’ll never run into a familiar face. I think I’ll have it the best out of all my siblings because I’ll have six older siblings who have gone before me and the amount of people that each of them has met is just going to keep growing and will grow with the last edition Mikaela and then finally with me,” Colten said.

In Spring 2020, Colten will begin his new adventure at Boot Camp in Great Lakes, IL. It’s a journey his six siblings have described hundreds of times to him, but even the pictures they’ve painted won’t take away the emotion of leaving Hermann behind.

“I know one day I’ll come back to Hermann and tell my own kids all the amazing stories of my Navy adventures. But for now, it’s time to leave and experience the world, just like my siblings did,” Colten added.

The Job of a Navy Nuke

Nuclear technicians, power plant operators and subsystems specialists are responsible for keeping vital Naval submarines and aircraft carriers running. These highly trained, hands-on professionals perform the complex technical functions that are at the core of sub and carrier capabilities.

Their job involves everything from operating nuclear propulsion plant machinery, to controlling auxiliary equipment that supports Naval reactors, to maintaining various electronic, propulsion and weapons systems.

There are three types of Nuclear Operations jobs for enlisted Sailors. Responsibilities depend on your training, interests and designation. All three of these ratings are eligible to receive up to a $40,000 bonus for first-time enlistment and up to a $100,000 bonus for re-enlistment.

Machinist’s Mate Nuclear (MMN)

Nuclear Machinist’s Mates operate and maintain steam turbines and reduction gears used for nuclear ship propulsion and auxiliary machinery such as turbogenerators, pumps and oil purifiers. They also maintain auxiliary machinery outside of main machinery spaces, such as electrohydraulic steering engines and elevators, refrigeration plants, air conditioning systems and desalinization plants. They may also operate and maintain compressed gas producing plants. Nuclear-trained MMs perform duties in nuclear propulsion plants operating reactor control, propulsion and power generation systems. This job is perfect for Sailors with deep interest in math, chemistry, physics and engineering—in other words, it takes hard work and smarts to get you into the reactor room.

Electrician’s Mate Nuclear (EMN)

Nuclear Electrician’s Mates are responsible for the operation of a ship’s electrical power generation systems, lighting systems, electrical equipment and electrical appliances. The duties include installation, operation, adjustment, routine maintenance, inspection, test and repair of electrical equipment. They also perform maintenance and repair of related electronic equipment. As an EMN, you’re responsible for troubleshooting the electric breakers and circuits aboard nuclear-powered ships like aircraft carriers and submarines.

Electronics Technician Nuclear (ETN)

Nuclear Electronics Technicians operate and perform maintenance on the electronic systems that make the nuclear reactor on Navy ships run. From submarines to aircraft carriers, these Sailors calibrate the actual nuclear control rods to generate power aboard these ships. After your training at Nuclear Power & Prototype School, you’ll be part of a watch team that enables the fission process, which generates steam for propulsion. Few can say they get hands-on experience in a nuclear power plant just three years out of high school—you’re one of them.