Atlanta native supports a 123-year tradition of service under the sea

Submariners make up only 10 percent of the U.S. Navy’s personnel, but they play a critical role in carrying out one of the Defense Department’s most important missions: strategic deterrence. Barbara Ratliff, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, is one of the civilians supporting a 123-year tradition of service under the sea to help ensure Americans’ safety.

Ratliff joined the Navy 31 years ago and today serves as a civilian with Trident Training Facility Kings Bay.

“I joined the Navy in 1985 as a mess specialist, and worked my way up to being a petty officer first class when I retired from the military,” said Ratliff. "I then began my civilian career for the Navy as a Disabled Veterans Affairs Representative."

Growing up in Atlanta, Ratliff attended Joseph Emerson Brown High School and graduated in 1985.

Skills and values similar to those found in Atlanta are similar to those required to succeed in the military.

“I learned from my hometown the value of tradition,” said Ratliff. "I learned that it starts with the basics of having that community and family bond, which provides that team of support for a successful career."

These lessons have helped Ratliff while serving in the Navy.

Known as America’s “Apex Predators,” the Navy’s submarine force operates a large fleet of technically-advanced vessels. These submarines are capable of conducting rapid defensive and offensive operations around the world, in furtherance of U.S. national security.

There are three basic types of submarines: fast-attack submarines (SSN), ballistic-missile submarines (SSBN) and guided-missile submarines (SSGN). Fast-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; conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions; and engage in mine warfare. The Virginia-class SSN is the most advanced submarine in the world today. It combines stealth and payload capability to meet Combatant Commanders’ demands in this era of strategic competition.

The Navy's ballistic-missile submarines, often referred to as "boomers," serve as a strategic deterrent by providing an undetectable platform for submarine-launched ballistic missiles. SSBNs are designed specifically for stealth, extended patrols and the precise delivery of missiles. The Columbia-class SSBN will be the largest, most capable and most advanced submarine produced by the U.S. - replacing the current Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines to ensure continuous sea-based strategic deterrence into the 2080s.

Guided-missile submarines provide the Navy with unprecedented strike and special operation mission capabilities from a stealthy, clandestine platform. Each SSGN is capable of carrying 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, plus a complement of heavyweight torpedoes to be fired through four torpedo tubes.

"Our mission remains timeless - to provide our fellow citizens with nothing less than the very best Navy: fully combat ready at all times, focused on warfighting excellence, and committed to superior leadership at every single level," said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations. "This is our calling. And I cannot imagine a calling more worthy."

Strategic deterrence is the Nation’s ultimate insurance program, according to Navy officials. As a civilian member of the submarine force, Ratliff is part of a rich history of the U.S. Navy’s most versatile weapons platform, capable of taking the fight to the enemy in the defense of America and its allies.

Serving in the Navy means Ratliff is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on strengthening alliances, modernizing capabilities, increasing capacities and maintaining military readiness in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“My job ensures that future sailors are taught with the most up to date material in securing our borders,” said Ratliff.

With 90 percent of global commerce traveling by sea and access to the internet relying on the security of undersea fiber optic cables, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity of the United States is directly linked to trained sailors and a strong Navy.

Ratliff and sailors have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.

“My proudest accomplishment in the Navy is the fact that I was the first family member to successfully retire from the military with 20 years of service,” said Ratliff. "I set the standard for other family members who later joined the military."

As Ratliff and sailors continue to train and perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.

“Serving in the Navy means everything,” said Ratliff. “For starters, it's not just one job, but every job connects to fulfilling the mission in securing our borders.”

Ratliff is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible.

“I would like to thank my late grandmother,” said Ratliff. "She raised me at the age of three years-old because my mother passed away. I'm grateful for her honesty and generosity, but mostly for her discipline which translated to me successfully retiring from the Navy."

“I have a blast each day serving the Navy and its sailors,” added Ratliff. “I have so many people that want my job. I'm extremely blessed.”

*Featured Image Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class
Josiah Trombley, Navy Office of Community Outreach

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