A 2017 Central Bucks East High School graduate and Doylestown native is serving with the U.S. Navy aboard one of the world’s most advanced nuclear-powered submarines, USS Key West.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Ragle is a machinist’s mate (nuclear) aboard the Guam-based submarine, one of four Los Angeles-class submarines forward-deployed on the island.
A Navy machinist’s mate (nuclear) is a mechanic responsible for maintaining the reactor plant systems, steam systems and other essential systems onboard the submarine.
Matthew credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Doylestown.
“I worked in welding shops so I’m used to the environment and doing mechanical types of work,” he said.
Jobs are highly varied aboard the submarine.
Approximately 130 sailors make up the submarine’s crew, doing everything from handling weapons to maintaining nuclear reactors.
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; carry out intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions; and engage in mine warfare.
Their primary tactical advantage is stealth, operating undetected under the sea for long periods of time.
“As the only forward deployed submarine
squadron, we are the quick reaction force for the Navy. We can respond quickly
to any crisis,” said Capt. Tim Poe, Commodore, Submarine Squadron 15. “It’s
spectacular the work our sailors do. We ask a lot of them and they always meet
According to Navy officials, because of the demanding environment aboard submarines, personnel are accepted only after rigorous testing and observation.
Submariners are some of the most highly-trained and skilled people in the Navy.
Regardless of their specialty, everyone has to learn how everything on the ship works and how to respond in emergencies to become “qualified in submarines” and earn the right to wear the coveted gold or silver dolphins on their uniform.
According to officials at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet headquarters in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the ships, submarines, aircraft and Navy personnel forward-deployed to Guam are part of the world’s largest fleet command and serve in a region critical to U.S. national security.
The U.S. Pacific Fleet encompasses 100 million square miles, nearly half the Earth’s surface, from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle and from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean.
All told, there are more than 200 ships and submarines, nearly 1,200 aircraft, and more than 130,000 uniformed and civilian personnel serving in the Pacific.
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Matthew is most proud of graduating from the nuclear training pipeline.
“The school was really challenging,” he said.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans.
More than 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80% of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90% of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Matthew and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.
“I enjoy serving my country, traveling the world and learning new skillsets,” he added.
PHOTO CAP: Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Ragle. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Heidi Cheek.