Gilbert native serving Navy and helping to deter nuclear war

US Navy. Gilbert native Zyven Fontes-Evans is a machinist attached to a nuclear sub based near Seattle. He said growing up on Gilbert left him with lessons that have proved valuable in his service to his country.


A Gilbert native is presently engaged in a critical mission for the security of the United States – helping to deter nuclear war.

Petty Officer 1st Class Zyven Fontes-Evans, a machinist’s mate (nuclear) and a 2006 Gilbert High grad, is serving aboard one of the world’s most advanced ballistic missile submarines, USS Kentucky. Based at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor near Seattle, the USS Kentucky is one of 14 ballistic missile submarines in the Navy’s fleet.

Fontes-Evans is responsible for maintaining primary and secondary chemistry control and radiological control of engineering spaces onboard the submarine.

“I enjoy the greater impact on overall reactor safety due to my job performance,” Fontes-Evans said.

Fontes-Evans draws from lessons learned growing up in Gilbert.

“I played a lot of sports and learned a lot about teamwork,” Fontes-Evans said. “That aspect has helped me be a good leader and set up my junior sailors for success.”

The Navy’s ballistic missile submarines, often referred to informally as “boomers,” serve as undetectable launch platforms for intercontinental ballistic missiles. They are designed specifically for stealth, extended patrols and the precise delivery of missiles, and they are the only survivable leg of the nation’s strategic nuclear forces, which also include land-based missiles and aircraft.

As long as nuclear weapons remain in the hands of potential adversaries, the nation’s nuclear forces provide a safe, secure and credible deterrent to the threat of nuclear attack. The Navy’s continuous at-sea deployment of submarines like USS Kentucky provides the ability to mount an assured response.

As effective as the subs have been over their decades-long lifetimes, the Navy says the fleet is aging, with the oldest submarines now more than 30 years old, well past their planned service lives.

A new and effective successor is critical to national security, and the Navy is well into the process of designing and fielding a more advanced ballistic missile submarine, which will provide the necessary sea-based nuclear deterrence into the 2080s and beyond.

Submarine sailors are some of the most highly trained and skilled people in the Navy. The training is highly technical, and each crew has to be able to operate, maintain, and repair every system or piece of equipment on board.

Regardless of their specialty, everyone also has to learn how everything on the submarine works and how to respond in emergencies to become “qualified in submarines” and earn the right to wear the coveted gold or silver dolphins on their uniforms.

“The men and women from across our nation who volunteer for military service embody the fundamental values of honor, courage and sacrifice that are the bedrock of our republic,” said Rear Adm. Blake Converse, commander of the Submarine Group Nine.

“They protect and defend America from above, below and across the world’s oceans,” he added. “The entire nation should be extremely proud of the hard work that these sailors do every single day to support the critical mission of the Navy and the submarine force.”

“What I like about being a submariner is it’s a volunteer force who enjoy the community and it’s a team effort all around. It’s a family-like atmosphere,” Fontes-Evans said.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Fontes-Evans and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.

“The Navy is the oldest branch of the military and has such a rich history,” Fontes-Evans said. “I feel it’s so important to have a solid Navy presence all around the world to ensure we protect those who are depending on us.”