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News | Feb. 28, 2018

Submarine Lawyers

By Lt. j.g. Marcus Leach, Region Legal Service Office Naval District Washington

Lt. Jared Hudson and I recently went underway to provide legal assistance to the crew of the USS Newport News (SSN 750). 

The "New-News" is a Los Angeles class fast-attack submarine.  It is 362 feet long and 33 feet wide at its widest point.  While underway we drafted and executed nearly 40 wills and notarized around 100 powers of attorney. Our first few days on the boat had the common theme of awkwardly trying, and failing, not to be in everyone's way.  

When the Wardroom or Crew's mess was available we provided legal assistance, but when there was a training, meal, or top secret brief, we either stood in one of the narrow passageways or got back into our racks.  This operational environment and tempo was completely new to us and was probably the biggest eye-opener about life on a submarine.  While we were aboard, the crew were always on duty and they slept when, and if, they found the time. After a few days aboard we finally found our stride.  The crew kept a table in the mess available for us and we learned when we needed to get out of the way.  

Hudson and I settled into a routine and were "Forged by the Sea" into a well-oiled estate planning team. On our last day underway Cmdr. Mike Grubb, the commanding officer, thanked us for coming aboard, gave us both a coin, and promoted Hudson to the rank of lieutenant in the wardroom.  Possibly a first for the Navy JAG Corps. This trip was an extremely rewarding experience that broadened my understanding of the Navy's mission and the important role of our submarine forces.   If given the opportunity and you don't have any issues with claustrophobia, I highly recommend accepting.
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