An Interview with Navy ________________________________________________About Navy Nuclear ProgramsQ I understand that some of the Navy’s submarines run on nuclear power. Is that true?A Actually, all of our submarines are nuclear powered and so are our aircraft carriers.Nuclear power enables us to run our ships faster, quieter and over longer distances than we couldwith the diesel engines that used to power these ships.Q Does this mean that the Navy has made a significant investment in nuclear technology?A With more than 80 nuclear powered ships, and roughly 100 nuclear power plants, itprobably would be safe to say that the U.S. Navy is heavily invested in nuclear power and also innuclear propulsion.Q Is there a difference between nuclear power and nuclear propulsion?A Yes, there is a difference. Nuclear power produces the electrical energy required to runon-board systems. Nuclear propulsion actually propels the ship through the water. We employboth.Q How long has the Navy used nuclear technology on its ships?A The USS Nautilus is regarded as our first nuclear powered ship, and that was launched in1955, but the technology advanced significantly by the time Ohio class Trident submarines werebuilt beginning in 1981, and even more advanced technology is in place today with the Seawolf,Virginia, and Los Angeles class submarines, Nimitz class aircraft carriers, and other ships thatnow employ nuclear power.Q How does the Navy keep up with these advances in technology?A Really, it is not a matter of keeping up. Since we are at the cutting edge of suchtechnology, we are really participants in leading the way. To do that, we need to employ some ofthe best and brightest minds in America – minds that already have been immersed in science,technology, mathematics and also engineering. Then we introduce those individuals to evenmore schooling for math, physics, chemistry, thermodynamics, metallurgy, materialsengineering, electrical theory, reactor principles, reactor plant technology and more, all at theNaval Nuclear Power School in Charleston, South Carolina.
Q It sounds like a lot of study. Does any of this qualify for college credit?A Colleges and universities vary regarding the amount of college credit they will grant, butthe American Council of Education recommends that up to 77 credits should be awarded.Q Does everyone follow the same path once he or she is in the program?A No. While one person may find a unique capability in electrical or electronics, anothermay be more suited to mechanical aspects of the training. And while some might stay in thenuclear power end of the program, others might pursue more study in nuclear propulsion.Q Are all of these jobs enlisted positions, or are there some officer opportunities?A There are several routes that a person can take. While some people might move intohighly specialized enlisted jobs, others might take a path into officer positions. Nuclear trainedmachinist’s mates, electrician’s mates and electronics technicians, for example, can work onoperating reactor controls, propulsion and power generation systems and in other highlyspecialized environments. Officer paths might stem from either the nuclear power area or thenuclear propulsion area. What’s more, some of our highly qualified candidates take a collegepath to begin with, and that might include NROTC, Naval Academy or some other Navysupported educational program along the way.Q It sounds as though it could take a long time studying before someone would actuallyhave a sea tour. Does the Navy provide incentives for all of this?A For a highly qualified submarine officer candidate, for example, to go through college,the nuclear power training unit and then the nuclear submarine officer training will take acommitment of several years studying in addition to the Navy service time. To make all of thatworthwhile, the Navy has made available a salary and benefit program that pays up to $168,300starting up to 30 months prior to college graduation, plus a $15,000 selection bonus uponacceptance to the Nuclear Power Officer Candidate (NUPOC) program, plus $2,000 uponcompletion of the nuclear propulsion training, plus military health-care benefits while a studentin the program.Q Does the program open doors of opportunity after the initial Navy commitment?A After fulfilling an initial commitment of four to five years, our nuclear trained people canuse their invaluable experience to pursue leadership, research, teaching and advisory positions inthe Navy, or they can pursue a wealth of possibilities in the civilian sector.
Q How does an interested person begin to sort out all of these options to see if there is anopportunity for him or her?A Actually, the best first step is to contact the local recruiting station to find out about anyand all of the jobs that we have available. To reach us, simply contact our station by calling______________, or stop in most afternoons at ___________________________________. Ifyou or an out of-town friend want to locate another station near them, visit www.navy.com andclick on “find a recruiter” on the right side of the home page, then enter your zip code number.The website will identify contact locations for both enlisted and officer programs. A call to 800-4go –Navy will do the trick as well.Additional comment:To put the Navy’s role in perspective, you need to recognize that 70 percent of the world iscovered by ocean, 80 percent of the world’s population lives along coasts and 90 percent of theworld’s commerce travels by water. Protecting all of that is our job, and that makes America’sNavy a global force for good.Sailors serve on land and from the sea; from ships on the water, submarines under the water, andplanes and helicopters over the water – all to meet America’s threats far away so that thosethreats cannot harm us here. We welcome the best men and women to join us in accomplishingtoday’s missions and meeting tomorrow’s challenges. - 30 -