SAN DIEGO – Petty Officer 1st Class Nicholas Sookbir is supporting the country’s most versatile combat ships as a gas turbine systems technician with the U.S. Navy.
Sookbir, a 2006 graduate of Butler High School, is assigned to Commander, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One, based in San Diego, California.
He operates, repairs and performs maintenance on electrical components of gas turbine engines, main propulsion machinery, auxiliary equipment, propulsion control systems and other circuitry.
“What I enjoy most is the team camaraderie,” he said. “You are with family every day on the ship from sunrise to sunset. You are out there working together, enduring the same pain and training sailors. It’s frustrating at times because teaching someone is not always what it’s cracked up to be, but being there to see the progression of these young sailors makes you feel proud about what you do.”
Sookbir credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Charlotte.
His parents moved the family from Trinidad and Tobago to the U.S. when he was 2 years old with just a backpack full of clothes. His father owns a landscaping business. His mother owns a hair salon.
“Being an immigrant, growing up under my family’s values and coming from poverty brought me a long way,” Sookbir said. “I learned the value of a dollar and the value of hard work and how they both pay off.”
Through littoral combat ships, sailors can support multiple missions, such as surface, mine or anti-submarine warfare. Designed to defeat threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft, littoral combat ships are a bold departure from traditional Navy shipbuilding programs.
He is most proud of earning Engineering Officer Of the Watch as a petty officer second class. He’s one of three people running the ship when the chief officer is sleeping.
“No other job will take you to the places that I have been to. I am just in awe at everything the Navy does for its sailors,” Sookbir said. “The Navy does require you to make sacrifices but it pays off in the end.”
Rick Burke works in the Navy Office of Community Outreach.