WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Michael Bryant dreamed of working on submarines. Originally from Independence, he grew up in a military family. He joined the Navy in August 1991.
After two years of intense training, his childhood dream came true as he received orders to serve in a machinery division aboard a nuclear submarine.
“I wanted to see how a naval nuclear power plant operated,” Bryant said. “I wanted to actually operate one. I just wanted that experience. And then, thought about submarines, so it was kind of a, a perfect match, and basically, I lived out a dream in the Navy.”
He served as a machinist’s mate for the next four years, spending most of that time under water.
“I’m operating turbines, you know, that steam is going through. I’m operating pumps; that’s just returning the water back to the reactor or back to the starter generator.”
His submarine was the newly commissioned USS Asheville, a Los Angeles Class attack submarine.
“You know it can go years without having to be refueled,” Bryant said. “It’s a game changer and nuclear power was a game changer for submarines.”
Although the submarine was the size of a football field, Bryant said it was still small compared to others in the fleet. He said during his time in the Navy, the Asheville would primarily make its way throughout the Pacific.
“If you get up close near a tropical storm or a hurricane, you know, you get up close to the surface, you can feel that, so, you can definitely tell when the, when the seas are mad,” he said.
Bryant said each mission was classified.
“You didn’t know where you were going or how long you were going to be gone.”
His favorite task on the submarine was quality assurance, writing the work scopes for jobs to be done once Asheville was in port to keep the sub seaworthy.
“That way, you know, the guys opened up the job. They know exactly what tools they need, what kind of parts they need … if one person fails in that job, then that could mean the loss of an entire ship and the entire crew, so since I became a part of that process, I knew without a doubt that the ship was ready.”
Bryant retired from the Navy in 1997 but still keeps track of Asheville on social media.
“A big salute to all my fellow servicemen and women out there, a big salute to you for giving up your privacy, your, your weekend plans and everything else because of the call for duty. So, thank you,” he said.
Bryant said his Navy experience helped him as he went on to work for the Department of Energy and Textron.
If you want to nominate a veteran for our Veteran Salute, email KSN reporter Hannah Adamson at email@example.com.