NORFOLK, Va. — Fox 4 is connecting you to some of our neighbors serving the country in a weeklong conversation. We're talking about some of the 30,000 sailors the Navy says joined this military branch here in Florida.
The public is rarely allowed on a military base, so to help our community understand the perspective, Fox 4 reporter Kaitlin Knapp was invited out to experience life as a sailor at the largest Navy base in the world.
Norfolk, Virginia is home to many sailors who either lived in Florida or are from here.
"There are all these amazing things going on inside, but the public doesn't get to see it," said Capt. Dave Hecht, the public affairs officer for the Fleet Forces Command.
To start life as a sailor, service members show off the many uniforms they're responsible for.
"You have to be pretty precise on your measurements," said First Class Petty Officer Jessica Mills.
The electrician is from California and is proud to wear her uniform.
"Wearing a uniform for the first time I felt like a true professional," she said.
A professional doing one of many jobs in the Navy, which Kaitlin Knapp experienced, while also getting a look at what happens during a flood or fire on a ship. That ship: a submarine.
One of the sailors who work on them as a nuclear machinist is former Cape Coral resident Chief Ben Rosinus.
"I'm in charge of supervising everything from the main engines to the power generation of the ship," he said.
Rosinus has served for 22 years and never forgets one of the many places he calls home.
"And I'm just grateful to where I am. Not just for the people of Cape Coral, but across the nation," he said. "Being from a small town like that it kind of means anyone in the world and anyone in the country can provide that kind of protection."
For security reasons, we cannot show you too much inside the submarine. However, we did get a glimpse of the weapons on board and where sailors sleep.
On the USS Albany, about 150 sailors can spend up to three months underwater during a six-month deployment. They're sleeping in small bunks and have limited access to food before resurfacing.
A sailor serving on the USS Albany is Petty Officer Third Class Gerry Ruiz. He's from Miami. Ruiz is in charge of ordering supplies for the submarine and compares his job to Amazon.
"I feel very proud to do this," he said. "It's a New York boat, but I'm still protecting Florida in some way because I am going out with this warship."
He says it's hard to be away from home and says all his friends are still there. Ruiz hopes to be stationed in Florida one day.
"Miss all of you, I miss everything we used to do," Ruiz said.
For now, the hometown hero says he's going to continue to make his family, friend, country, and home state proud. When asked what he loves about Florida so much, Ruiz says the atmosphere and the people.