# US Navy Nuclear Program (Propulsion)

What I liked about the Navy:
1. Job training
2. Comradery
3. Doing something unique (ie, being on a nuclear submarine for a few years)
4. Seeing the world... (more to follow on this in dislikes)

What I disliked (these are more involved, but mimic stories from all the ex-navy guys I work with):
1. Screwing over junior personnel... essentially, people got bad deals, sucky jobs, hazed, whatever... when they were junior. Rather than take the approach that they were going to be different when they were the higher ranking individuals, to be a better leader, they tend to act out against junior personnel in the same manner they were acted against. They justify it by saying everyone goes through it, they had to etc... it's often beyond juvenile.

2. Racism/sexism... yup, it still exists. If a white male screws up, shows up late, doesn't do his work, etc... they get written up, put on report, or worse. Saw time and again, where our brass would not take action against a woman (when I was on a carrier for a few months) or minorities for fear of them accusing them of racism. Our chief went so far as to tell us to take the woman off the maintenance schedule and watch bill, and that he would put her in the office, to get her out of the shop and out of our hair, and kicked back all 5 reports/counseling chits she had been written up on.

3. More on two above... we had 3 enlisted nukes selected for officer programs in 4 years on my command... a black kid, a hispanic kid, and an arabic kid. Sounds like the beginnings of a bad joke... the black kid had the lowest evals in the department, an attitude problem, told people 2 and 3 ranks higher than himself to F themselves when they called him out on his shortcomings, and yet he makes officer...

4. We had a liberty port in hawaii, 5 or 6 days long. The nukes were 3 section (1 day on, 2 days off) and the non-nukes (aka "coners") were 4 section across the board (1 day on, 3 off). Sucks, but since we were undermanned, the chief of the boat (a coner) said "choose your rate, choose your fate" and the coners got an extra day off. No big deal, right? 6 mos later, we're back in hawaii... nukes are now 4 section and the coners are 3... chief of the boat (same guy as before) now says "if everyone isn't 4 section, no one is - we're one crew here). Stupid double standards.

5. I scored outstanding on the PRT tests (highest grade possible). Maxed the pushups, situps, and did the 1.5 mile run with minutes to spare. But I was overweight by navy standards (I was 6 foot tall, 220 pounds, worked out 3x a week). The supposed max weight for my height was 192 pounds... so they "rope and choke" me... take my waste measurement, subtract my neck measurement, and for 6 foot tall, find it on a graph and correspond that to a "percent body fat" and they said I was OBESE at 28% body fat. I was fit and trim! I got sent to base civilian physical fitness counselor, who couldn't believe I was there. She first used calipers, and put me at 19% (3% under the limit) then put me in a float tank, most accurate measurement, and called me 16% body fat, in spec for the marines. Didn't matter, navy used rope and choke, and since I had a skinny neck (not fat there) I was put on remedial physical training, given a 1.0 in military bearing on my evals (irregardless of my appearance, inspections, professionalism) and not allowed to advance... I was so lean on fat, I couldn't float without holding my breath, I'd sink otherwise... MEANWHILE a short fat chunky mechanic, who was 5 inches shorter than me and 80 pounds heavier, was listed as in spec on body fat, because they could not get the tape measure underneath the folds of fat around his neck and chin, so the difference between his neck and waste was just barely in spec...

6. Being on mandatory PT from 5, above... I had to log 3 workouts a week. During ORSE (operation reactor safeguards exam) workups, the weekend before, I had 2 in, and needed to get one more in by Saturday at midnight. I got off watch at 5:30 pm, and changed to go work out. My division officer catches me and wants to spend some time going over some paperwork (I had 3 of the 4 inspectable collateral duties in my division). I told him I would after watch, and he said this took priority, and that he would excuse me this once, since it was work related... We proceed to spend the next 7 hours bringing him up to speed on the paperwork and going over previous inspections. I got to bed well after midnight. Next morning, my enlisted supervisor brings me a write up for violating direct orders for me to sign, and says they are considering non-judicial punishment!!! I refused to sign, explained what happened, and he says he doesnt care, he was told to give me this discipline by the executive officer (XO). I go to the division officer, who apologizes and says he wishes he could do something about it, but his hands were tied... left me hanging after I saved his ignorant *** before the inspection.

7. The food sucks. The fresh produce goes bad within about 10 days underway, then you are left with another 60-70 days with dried/canned goods, cooked without seasoning deliberately bland. We found one box of meat during halfway inventory, that was stamped as rejected by California school system, rejected california penal system, not fit for human consumption by the Air Force, and then "accepted: US Navy". Food on shore isn't bad, but when you're in the real navy, for the first 4-6 years, you're on a boat.

8. I'm an atheist. Not anti-religion, I was raised christian, just not for me anymore... I got woken up on my off time, to go stand watch, so the religous watchstanders could get off watch and attend their bible study groups. In protest, I put a "bad religion" bumper sticker (a punk rock group) on my personal, bought with my own money, planner... An activist christian came in the lounge with his bible, saw my sticker, grabbed my book and threw it in the trash, saying it offended him. I grabbed his bible and tossed it in next to my book, and told him the same. I had to explain to the XO why I was harassing religous people... told him the story, and the XO said he was justified and I wasn't, and for me to remove the bumper sticker, direct order... more double standards.

9. It cost me my marriage. Wife couldn't handle raising our newborn daughter while I was at sea 6 months a year, her alone, 3000 miles from any of her family. Judge said he would consider giving me custody or joint custody, if the navy would write a letter saying they would let me out on hardship, if he did. The navy said they would write the letter, only if he gave me full custody first. Obviously, the judge didn't see things the Navy way. THEN I asked to be transferred to the east coast, to be closer to my child, and the command refused, citing being undermanned, costs of a coast to coast transfer, etc... the XO said the command COULD HOWEVER refer me to the base chaplain for counseling, on my own time of course...

10. For one major inport overhaul and renovation in the reactor compartment, I was tasked with developing a radiation man-rem budget and work package, from scratch. I did all the work, all the research, took me about 2 months total to plan and put the package together, to support the shipyard while the did the overhaul. I budgeted 24,000 milli-rem for ships force (based on tasks, known dose rates in areas, estimated stay times, previous similar jobs, etc). We came in under our limit, by 20 milli-rem... That means I projected our dose for a 30 day, 24/7 project, two crews, within .083 percent... Unheard of accuracy. No single part of the project deviated by more than 1% of it's estimate. My division officer, LPO and our department head got Navy Achievement Medals based solely on the man-rem budget and coming in under dose. I got a "thank you" and a pat on the back from my LPO and division officer.

And now they have women on submarines (of course, not enlisted, having to earn their keep and prove their worth, they put female officers onboard and immediately, the enlisted have to respect them... the training on that is going to be ridiculous, and you can imagine the sexual harassment lawsuits coming. We had students in nuke school get written up and taken to captain's mass for sexual harassment because a female officer said she felt they looked at her inappropriately... After about 5 or 6 of these cases, where students careers were ruined before they began, were denuked, reduced in rate, fined... they finally figured out she was just a raging feminist and many of her allegations were unfounded. Too late for the guys careers they had already ruined over the previous 6 months.

They have gotten rid of the don't ask, don't tell policy. The navy answer to everything is "TRAINING". Sailors are going to be trained sick, on how to deal with this, and I guarantee careers will be ruined, and everyone will be scared of the out of the closet gay man, naked in the showers with them, claiming harassment and discrimination. The navy tends to promote those who claim any sort of bias, up and out of the way...

As you can seek, lots of negatives. Yes, alot are very specific stories, as examples of the negatives, but as I work with about 8-10 other ex-navy nukes, at any given time, they all tell similar experiences.

The carrier I was on, they were offering nukes $60K re-enlistment bonuses, and it was tax free when the carrier was in the gulf. About 1/3 of the nukes were eligible to re-enlist while the carrier was deployed (somewhere around 70-80 nukes I believe, not counting the non-nukes in the engineering department working with them). ONE nuke re-enlisted... That kind of dissatisfaction speaks for itself. Yes, the training is excellent, but few nukes stay in to retirement, or past one term of service these days. I served back in 92-98... things may have changed, but I highly doubt it. NUCENG Science Advisor What I liked about the Navy: 1. Job training 2. Comradery 3. Doing something unique (ie, being on a nuclear submarine for a few years) 4. Seeing the world... (more to follow on this in dislikes) What I disliked (these are more involved, but mimic stories from all the ex-navy guys I work with): 1. Screwing over junior personnel... essentially, people got bad deals, sucky jobs, hazed, whatever... when they were junior. Rather than take the approach that they were going to be different when they were the higher ranking individuals, to be a better leader, they tend to act out against junior personnel in the same manner they were acted against. They justify it by saying everyone goes through it, they had to etc... it's often beyond juvenile. 2. Racism/sexism... yup, it still exists. If a white male screws up, shows up late, doesn't do his work, etc... they get written up, put on report, or worse. Saw time and again, where our brass would not take action against a woman (when I was on a carrier for a few months) or minorities for fear of them accusing them of racism. Our chief went so far as to tell us to take the woman off the maintenance schedule and watch bill, and that he would put her in the office, to get her out of the shop and out of our hair, and kicked back all 5 reports/counseling chits she had been written up on. 3. More on two above... we had 3 enlisted nukes selected for officer programs in 4 years on my command... a black kid, a hispanic kid, and an arabic kid. Sounds like the beginnings of a bad joke... the black kid had the lowest evals in the department, an attitude problem, told people 2 and 3 ranks higher than himself to F themselves when they called him out on his shortcomings, and yet he makes officer... 4. We had a liberty port in hawaii, 5 or 6 days long. The nukes were 3 section (1 day on, 2 days off) and the non-nukes (aka "coners") were 4 section across the board (1 day on, 3 off). Sucks, but since we were undermanned, the chief of the boat (a coner) said "choose your rate, choose your fate" and the coners got an extra day off. No big deal, right? 6 mos later, we're back in hawaii... nukes are now 4 section and the coners are 3... chief of the boat (same guy as before) now says "if everyone isn't 4 section, no one is - we're one crew here). Stupid double standards. 5. I scored outstanding on the PRT tests (highest grade possible). Maxed the pushups, situps, and did the 1.5 mile run with minutes to spare. But I was overweight by navy standards (I was 6 foot tall, 220 pounds, worked out 3x a week). The supposed max weight for my height was 192 pounds... so they "rope and choke" me... take my waste measurement, subtract my neck measurement, and for 6 foot tall, find it on a graph and correspond that to a "percent body fat" and they said I was OBESE at 28% body fat. I was fit and trim! I got sent to base civilian physical fitness counselor, who couldn't believe I was there. She first used calipers, and put me at 19% (3% under the limit) then put me in a float tank, most accurate measurement, and called me 16% body fat, in spec for the marines. Didn't matter, navy used rope and choke, and since I had a skinny neck (not fat there) I was put on remedial physical training, given a 1.0 in military bearing on my evals (irregardless of my appearance, inspections, professionalism) and not allowed to advance... I was so lean on fat, I couldn't float without holding my breath, I'd sink otherwise... MEANWHILE a short fat chunky mechanic, who was 5 inches shorter than me and 80 pounds heavier, was listed as in spec on body fat, because they could not get the tape measure underneath the folds of fat around his neck and chin, so the difference between his neck and waste was just barely in spec... 6. Being on mandatory PT from 5, above... I had to log 3 workouts a week. During ORSE (operation reactor safeguards exam) workups, the weekend before, I had 2 in, and needed to get one more in by Saturday at midnight. I got off watch at 5:30 pm, and changed to go work out. My division officer catches me and wants to spend some time going over some paperwork (I had 3 of the 4 inspectable collateral duties in my division). I told him I would after watch, and he said this took priority, and that he would excuse me this once, since it was work related... We proceed to spend the next 7 hours bringing him up to speed on the paperwork and going over previous inspections. I got to bed well after midnight. Next morning, my enlisted supervisor brings me a write up for violating direct orders for me to sign, and says they are considering non-judicial punishment!!! I refused to sign, explained what happened, and he says he doesnt care, he was told to give me this discipline by the executive officer (XO). I go to the division officer, who apologizes and says he wishes he could do something about it, but his hands were tied... left me hanging after I saved his ignorant *** before the inspection. 7. The food sucks. The fresh produce goes bad within about 10 days underway, then you are left with another 60-70 days with dried/canned goods, cooked without seasoning deliberately bland. We found one box of meat during halfway inventory, that was stamped as rejected by California school system, rejected california penal system, not fit for human consumption by the Air Force, and then "accepted: US Navy". Food on shore isn't bad, but when you're in the real navy, for the first 4-6 years, you're on a boat. 8. I'm an atheist. Not anti-religion, I was raised christian, just not for me anymore... I got woken up on my off time, to go stand watch, so the religous watchstanders could get off watch and attend their bible study groups. In protest, I put a "bad religion" bumper sticker (a punk rock group) on my personal, bought with my own money, planner... An activist christian came in the lounge with his bible, saw my sticker, grabbed my book and threw it in the trash, saying it offended him. I grabbed his bible and tossed it in next to my book, and told him the same. I had to explain to the XO why I was harassing religous people... told him the story, and the XO said he was justified and I wasn't, and for me to remove the bumper sticker, direct order... more double standards. 9. It cost me my marriage. Wife couldn't handle raising our newborn daughter while I was at sea 6 months a year, her alone, 3000 miles from any of her family. Judge said he would consider giving me custody or joint custody, if the navy would write a letter saying they would let me out on hardship, if he did. The navy said they would write the letter, only if he gave me full custody first. Obviously, the judge didn't see things the Navy way. THEN I asked to be transferred to the east coast, to be closer to my child, and the command refused, citing being undermanned, costs of a coast to coast transfer, etc... the XO said the command COULD HOWEVER refer me to the base chaplain for counseling, on my own time of course... 10. For one major inport overhaul and renovation in the reactor compartment, I was tasked with developing a radiation man-rem budget and work package, from scratch. I did all the work, all the research, took me about 2 months total to plan and put the package together, to support the shipyard while the did the overhaul. I budgeted 24,000 milli-rem for ships force (based on tasks, known dose rates in areas, estimated stay times, previous similar jobs, etc). We came in under our limit, by 20 milli-rem... That means I projected our dose for a 30 day, 24/7 project, two crews, within .083 percent... Unheard of accuracy. No single part of the project deviated by more than 1% of it's estimate. My division officer, LPO and our department head got Navy Achievement Medals based solely on the man-rem budget and coming in under dose. I got a "thank you" and a pat on the back from my LPO and division officer. And now they have women on submarines (of course, not enlisted, having to earn their keep and prove their worth, they put female officers onboard and immediately, the enlisted have to respect them... the training on that is going to be ridiculous, and you can imagine the sexual harassment lawsuits coming. We had students in nuke school get written up and taken to captain's mass for sexual harassment because a female officer said she felt they looked at her inappropriately... After about 5 or 6 of these cases, where students careers were ruined before they began, were denuked, reduced in rate, fined... they finally figured out she was just a raging feminist and many of her allegations were unfounded. Too late for the guys careers they had already ruined over the previous 6 months. They have gotten rid of the don't ask, don't tell policy. The navy answer to everything is "TRAINING". Sailors are going to be trained sick, on how to deal with this, and I guarantee careers will be ruined, and everyone will be scared of the out of the closet gay man, naked in the showers with them, claiming harassment and discrimination. The navy tends to promote those who claim any sort of bias, up and out of the way... As you can seek, lots of negatives. Yes, alot are very specific stories, as examples of the negatives, but as I work with about 8-10 other ex-navy nukes, at any given time, they all tell similar experiences. The carrier I was on, they were offering nukes$60K re-enlistment bonuses, and it was tax free when the carrier was in the gulf. About 1/3 of the nukes were eligible to re-enlist while the carrier was deployed (somewhere around 70-80 nukes I believe, not counting the non-nukes in the engineering department working with them). ONE nuke re-enlisted...

That kind of dissatisfaction speaks for itself. Yes, the training is excellent, but few nukes stay in to retirement, or past one term of service these days. I served back in 92-98... things may have changed, but I highly doubt it.
That is a fair assessment of some of the drawbacks of nuclear power in the service. I saw others. I saw officers that I couldn't trust and others who seemed to enjoy making life miserable for their enlisted personnel because they could. As a mustang (ex-enlisted), I saw a bias by Naval Academy ring-knockers who felt that made me unworthy to be in the same wardroom. But in my experience these were not the rule but a fairly rare exception. Since I left service I have seen similar double standards and inequities. The difference is that out of the navy you can pretty well tell your boss to go to hell without ending up in the brig.

I would add that nuclear enlisted and officers also had a higher workload and less opportunity to get on the beach during port visits and time in port than the non-nuclear crew members. I was on a submarine squadron staff for my shore duty and wound up going to sea because another officer broke his leg skiing. I never saw him again, which was a good thing, because I was trying to figure out how I could break his other leg. (I say, I say. That's a joke, son.) With my luck, they just would have sent me back to sea longer.) I know that some officers and commands had major problems when women first came into formally all-male tender crews. I had hoped that the double standards had been fixed. I am glad I won't be around when DADT is gone.

As I emphasized to Aliaze, the family should be a major consideration and your story is very common in all the armed forces. It is even worse for ground and air combat forces that are on their second or third combat rotation. The families probably have a harder burden that the troops. Overall, I enjoyed my time. The training and discipline to give my best every day was a major part of my success as a civilian engineer. I am proud of having served and hope you are too. Thank you for your service and your honest feedback for Aliaze.

So these guys, by about 30-32 years old, have 6 years navy nuclear experience, 8 years research reactor experience, qualified senior reactor operator, usually shift supervisor for a few years by then, have a college degree and ZERO STUDENT LOAN DEBT and almost zero cost except for books. And they go start at $100-140K per year at a commercial reactor when done, and because they got their degree, can move into management rapidly. The alternative, is get out of navy, go straight to commercial power, and make$120k/year within 2 years (starting out around $70-$80k per year).
This is quite true. Many SRO's/former SRO's I have met came right out of the navy, no college. That's \$100k+ without any debt. Not bad, if you are willing to do the time in service first.