First Filipina submarine officer earns warfare insignia

By Gabriela Baron

A supply officer serving aboard USS Ohio (SSGN 726), became the first Filipina submarine officer to earn a submarine warfare insignia.

Lt. Melanie Martins, supply officer aboard USS Ohio (US Navy) Lt. Melanie Martins, supply officer aboard USS Ohio (US Navy)

Lt. Melanie Martins, who hails from Angeles City, Pampanga, received her United States Navy submarine warfare pin in September 2019, after transitioning from the enlisted aviation community in 2013.

The submarine warfare insignia or "dolphins" is worn by all qualified submariners worldwide. Dolphins have become a universally recognizable symbol of a submariner's experience, competency, and ability to assume command in an emergency.

Martins said that earning her "dolphins" was not easy and recounted the challenges she faced as a submariner.

"I thought it was hard. I was wrong. It is really, really hard. There are times when I am too busy, and I ask myself 'why did I do this at all.' But then I realize that not all people are offered this opportunity. I have to grab it and be the best that I can be," Martins was quoted in a new release issued by the US Navy.

Despite the difficulty, Martins said her family keeps her motivated.

“My family motivates me to be the best I can be, especially my daughter. I want her to be proud of me one day and say to everyone that her mommy is a submariner!” she added.

The Pampangueña also shared how she brings her culture to her fellow crew members while aboard the submarine.

"I cook Filipino dishes. I am the only Pinoy aboard my submarine, so I show everyone our dishes. We never run out of rice of course! But I miss sinigang. It is my all-time favorite!" she added.

According to the US Navy, the insignia indicates that the wearer has challenged the depths of the seas and has been deemed worthy of donning it by their peers.

The warfare pin features the starboard angle of an O-class submarine emerging from the center of the insignia, slicing through the waves of an oceanic horizon. Two dolphins bring shape to the submariners' badge and are seen surfacing from the sea, facing the submarine.