Captain Chuck Merkel joined the Pacific Fleet Submarine Memorial Association Board of Directors as Treasurer in 2014. In 2016, he became the Executive Director. The son of a retired Senior Chief Aviation Electronics Technician, Captain Merkel joined the Navy in August 1980 while a student at Texas A&M University. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering in May 1982; he attended Officer Candidate School and was commissioned in October 1982. In 1999, he received a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management from the Catholic University of America.
Leading up to command at sea, Captain Merkel served on three Pearl Harbor based submarines, USS BREMERTON (SSN 698), USS OMAHA (SSN 692) and USS TUNNY (SSN 682). These boats completed eight deployments and earned two Navy Unit Commendations, three Meritorious Unit Commendations and three Battle Efficiency “E” awards. Captain Merkel commanded USS KEY WEST (SSN 722) home ported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii from November 2000 to July 2003, completing two highly successful deployments. KEY WEST was the first warship to arrive off Pakistan following the 9/11 attacks against our country.
KEY WEST participated in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, launching Tomahawk cruise missiles in to
Afghanistan. In March 2003, Captain Merkel became the first submarine Commanding Officer since World War II to lead his crew in combat during two consecutive deployments as KEY WEST launched Tomahawk cruise missiles in to Iraq during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. KEY WEST earned two Navy Unit Commendations, one Meritorious Unit Commendation, one Battle Efficiency “E” award, the Pacific Fleet Retention Excellence Award and the Captain Edward Ney Award for food service excellence.