U.S. Navy LCDR Gabe Anseeuw: exec officer of a nuclear sub
"I tell people, 'If you're going to do something, you might as well give it all you've got. Whether it's Navy or not, this is your job."
In 1991 at the age of seventeen, Gabe Anseeuw enlisted in the U.S. Navy as an electrician's mate. By 1993 Anseeuw had been appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis, MD); he graduated in 1997 with a BSME. Today he's a lieutenant commander, executive officer and second in command of the U.S.S. Wyoming, a submarine that carries nuclear missiles.
USS Wyoming is an Ohio Class ballistic missile submarine. These ships have two complete crews, a gold crew and a blue crew. Anseeuw serves with the blue crew.
"Right now the gold crew may be at sea with the ship," Anseeuw explains. "They pull in and it's in a maintenance period for upkeep and modifications, and then we take it out to sea for two and a half months. It's on continuous rotation."
The blue crew numbers 167. As executive officer, Anseeuw handles day-to-day activities like logistics, maintenance, training and operations. These are all the things that free up the captain for strategic thinking. "He does bigger-picture stuff and I do day-to-day stuff. I carry out his plan," Anseeuw says.
He notes that even though the sub carries nuclear warheads he feels more comfortable on it than on any other Navy craft. "We know it inside and out. That's how it's different from a carrier or even a commercial nuclear power plant," Anseeuw says.
The crew is self-contained, with no phones or communication lines to home. "It's a pretty cool job," he says. "You'll seldom find anything that better prepares you for so much responsibility so quickly."
As a manager, Anseeuw thinks he's approachable and fair, and sometimes a little passionate, too. "I tell people, 'If you're going to do something, you might as well give it all you've got. Whether it's Navy or somewhere else, this is your job for the time being. You can do the best you can or be miserable.
"The other thing I enjoy about the job is the way it's always changing. And the quality of people is spectacular," he says.
Anseeuw grew up in Puerto Rico and is also half Cuban. He notes that when he first joined the Navy there weren't many Hispanic officers. Now, twenty years later, there are a lot more, as the Navy works "to make sure its ranks look more like a cross section of society," he says.
When he served with the Navy in Spain, Anseeuw says with a laugh, people thought he was from the Canary Islands because of his accent. "It's a hybrid accent," he says. "I have family in Spain. My father was French, my mother is Cuban and they met in Puerto Rico."
After he graduated from the Naval Academy Anseeuw went through the Navy's rigorous training in nuclear propulsion engineering and submarines. He reported to the USS Alexandria in 1998 and had various division officer assignments, and also completed North Atlantic and Mediterranean/Persian Gulf deployments. From 2002 to 2004 he was an officer recruiter and enlisted programs officer at the Navy recruiting district in Jacksonville, FL.
He graduated from the Submarine Officer Advanced Course with the L.Y. Spear Award, and reported to the USS Los Angeles as a navigator from 2004 to 2006. During his tour the sub completed a Western Pacific deployment.
From 2006 to 2008 Anseeuw served as engineer on the USS Columbus. The ship completed a depot modernization project, changed its home port to Pearl Harbor, HI and completed a Western Pacific deployment.
In 2008 Anseeuw served in the office of the Chief of Naval Personnel as assistant submarine officer community manager. In 2010 he moved to his current job.
His personal recognitions include the Navy and Marine Corps commendation medal with four gold stars and the Navy and Marine Corps achievement medal with three gold stars.
Deployments can be tough
Anseeuw is married with two children. He enjoys a healthy work-life balance when he's home, but deployment time can be tough, he says.
"When my daughter comes running down the pier it tears my heart out," he says. "Then you start preparing for the next one. You talk to them a month in advance and say, 'Daddy has a big trip.'
"My wife is from Miami and her background is Cuban, too. When I'm gone, she makes a paper chain. The children take a link off the chain every day to count down when I'm coming home. It keeps them engaged."
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