Jess Combs Supports Navy’s First Unmanned Undersea Vehicles

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Written by Ashley Craig, Navy Office of Community Outreach

Chief Petty Officer Jesse Combs, a native of Lindenhurst, is one of the sailors assigned to Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Operations Center, supporting the Navy’s first unmanned undersea squadron.

Chief Petty Officer Jesse Combs of Lindenhurst (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class
Josiah Trombley)

Combs graduated from Lindenhurst High School in 2004. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a focus in computer animation from the New York Institute of Technology in 2008.

The skills and values needed to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Lindenhurst.

“Growing up, I learned that having a good work ethic, a can-do attitude and a plan can go a long way in career advancement,” said Combs. “My earliest job working in a grocery store on Route 109 was my first exposure to these statements having value and effect. Having a plan and being able to work with others is second nature to me.”

Combs joined the Navy 12 years ago. Today, Combs serves as a sonar technician (submarines).

“I felt it was my duty to sacrifice for what is important to me to defend the freedoms we love as a country and the communities I value,” said Combs. “I’m a third-generation sailor and second-generation submariner and sonar tech. My dad was a sonar technician first class aboard a ‘Boomer.’ My grandfather was a corpsman in World War II. I joined the Navy later in life, not as an 18-year-old fresh out of school. I was a motion capture director and, after I left that job, I couldn’t find another motion capture job in New York City. I did some soul-searching and found that I wanted to defend the arts and have job security. I already had that family military tradition. Coming into the Navy later was advantageous for me because I had life experience. Understanding how to organize and lead has definitely helped me excel.”

Established in 2017, Commander, Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Group (COMUUVGRU) 1 operates rapidly deployable unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) to further the Navy’s underwater capabilities and learn more about the sea from information provided by the vehicles’ sensors, according to Navy officials. These unmanned vehicles can go into environments that a human crew may not be able to safely or easily reach.

Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Group (COMUUVGRU) 1

Based in Keyport, WA, Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Group (UUVGRU) 1 operates various types of autonomous vehicles, from the small Iver series vehicles to the extra large 85-foot-long diesel-electric Orca vehicle. The sailors assigned to UUVGRU-1 are able to quickly modify and adapt the UUVs to fit the tasks set for them, personifying the command’s motto to “extend the reach” of the Navy’s manned vehicles, Navy officials said.

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 recruiting and retaining talented people from across the rich fabric of America.

Combs serves a Navy that operates far forward, around the world and around the clock, promoting the nation’s prosperity and security.

“We will earn and reinforce the trust and confidence of the American people every day,” said Adm. Lisa Franchetti, chief of naval operations. “Together we will deliver the Navy the nation needs.”

Combs has many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during military service.

“From a family values perspective, my proudest moment was when my father, Sonar Technician (Submarines) 1st Class James Combs, was able to pin my fish on my chest,” said Combs. “I’d never seen him that happy or proud before in my life. I was accomplishing something he thought would never happen. My brother and I went the arts route. I was his son but, after getting my fish, I was also his brother. We can communicate on a level that only we can understand. I have someone when I go home who can understand what I’m going through. A lot of people can’t do that.”

Combs can take pride in serving America through military service.

“Serving in the Navy means defending the freedoms and rights that we have as a nation,” said Combs. “It means being able to protect my friends and family to allow them keep doing the things they love and to do them openly. Protecting the arts and artists is huge for me, being one myself. That uniqueness of me having that artist mindset, I have molded that different mindset into a strength for situations.”

Combs offered encouragement for anyone in need.

“If you find yourself as a unique thinker, have a unique view or walk a different path than normal, use it to your advantage,” added Combs. “You might have the atypical solution to a complex problem. Thinking outside the box has had many positive repercussions on my path and may have them on yours.”

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