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Inside look: Sailor's life on a submarine

ABC 10 News Anchor Aaron Dickens speaks with a sailor from Chula Vista who works on a submarine
Posted at 9:30 PM, Feb 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-22 00:34:50-05

NORFOLK, VA (KGTV) — There are hundreds of sailors who work on submarines at the world's largest naval base in Norfolk, Virginia. They can spend several months out at sea, before coming home to their families.

2-year-old Jose was happy to see his father for the first time in 2 months.

"He means everything. That is my firstborn. He lifts my day up when I get to see him and go home. He does some crazy stuff. He keeps me entertained and happy. I am always laughing," says Jose Alvarez, a Navy Submariner.

The 24-year-old works on the USS Albany. The Chula Vista native is stationed in Norfolk. Alvarez in charge of navigating the submarine, using a variety of systems including sonar.

"I make sure we are safe, that we don’t enter water space we don’t own or we cannot be operating in, depending on the depths," he adds.

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Alvarez is able to see his wife and two sons frequently because the vessel he works on is being repaired at the base. The submarine has been in service since 1987. That is a long time for a submarine. The maintenance it’s undergoing right now is important.

"This is our home when we are gone, so we are trying to keep it well maintained as much as we can," says Alvarez.

His home looks big on the surface, but once you go inside there are no windows and the hallways are only a few feet wide. Alvarez says he got used to it quickly.

"I’m small you know so it is easy for me," Alvarez adds.

Also, there is no internet for personal use. So if you have a music playlist, you better download it ahead of time.

"It comes down to the relationships that you have, that help you get through it," says Alvarez.

Alvarez says providing for his family is most important. He says when he lived in Chula Vista, he was struggling financially, something he doesn’t have to worry about anymore. Alvarez has big dreams for his kids.

“As long as they are happy. Whatever they do. I want them to be happy," he says.