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Old 05-04-2013, 10:34 PM   #1
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Default Little more detail on Nukes

So this is mostly aimed at Prop, but any voice will help.

Honestly, I've seen it around the web that Nukes offers an enlistment bonus, you ship as an E-3 and you auto advance to E-4 at some point. Question is, is any of this stuff still true? If so about the the auto advancement, when does that happen typically?
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Old 05-05-2013, 12:16 AM   #2
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I can't imagine why this would ever target me... lol

Yes, these are all true facts. When you sign as a nuke you will start out as E-3 no matter if you have college or not. You will also see an enlistment bonus and be eligible for automatic advancement.

The enlistment bonus (which is at $12,000 right now I believe) is paid out in such a way that you receive 1/3 of it (around $4,000 before taxes) once you complete Nuclear Power School (NPS), and you receive the remaining 2/3 of it (around $8,000 before taxes) upon graduating from Prototype (completed at a Nuclear Power Training Unit or NPTU). In order to receive the bonus you must be in good academic standing (passing grades to graduate), Be in satisfactory physical fitness (have passed your most recent official PFA/PRT), and be in good judicial standing (Not having undergone NJP (Called going to 'captains mast' or simply 'mast', or going to courts martial). If any of these happen while you are at NPTU you will lose the remainder of your bonus AND you have to pay back the portion you have already received.

Lastly, so long as you have met all the same requirements as your bonus (Good academic standing, Passing PRT/PFA, and No record of going to mast) you will be automatically advanced to E-4 following A School Graduation. Should you fail out of later training or go to mast or fail a later PRT you will NOT lose E-4, just your bonus.
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Old 05-05-2013, 12:28 AM   #3
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For reference here's what the pipeline looks like:

Boot Camp - Great Lakes, IL - 2-3 Months

Indoctrination - Charleston, SC - 2-6 Weeks (Basically a hold status)

Nuclear Field 'A' School (NFAS) - Charleston, SC - 3 Months (MM) or 6 Months (EM or ET) - Advancement to E-4 upon completion

Transitionary Track (T-Track) - Charleston, SC - Up To 2 Months (minimum 1 week; again this is a hold status)

Nuclear Power School (NPS) - Charleston, SC - 6 Months - Receive 1/3 of Cash Bonus upon completion

Graduate Hold (Grad Hold) - Charleston, SC - None or up to 8 Months (depending on Rate and slots available at prototype; again this is a hold status)

Nuclear Prototype Training - Nuclear Power Training Unit (NPTU) - Charleston, SC or Saratoga Springs, NY - 6-10 Months (Depending on Holds and unanticipated situations) - Remainder of Cash bonus upon completion

Assignment to First Permanent Duty Station - Where?: All Over The World - Stationed on a Submarine or Aircraft Carrier or may be retained at NPTU as an Instructor (Called Staff Pick-up; requires member to extend their enlistment by an extra 2 years and comes with automatic advancement to E-5 (STAR Re-enlist)) - Duration?: The Remainder of your contract until you reenlist

Also, to be a nuke you MUST sign a voluntary extension of enlistment for schooling of 24 weeks - this will mean your nuke contract is a 6 year contract not a 4 year contract. If you fail out of NFAS, it reverts to a 4 year contract; if you fail out of NPS it reverts to a 5 year contract; after completing NPS, it WILL be a 6 year contract even if you don't complete at NPTU.
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Old 05-05-2013, 11:49 AM   #4
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I have a couple of questions for you, Prop, if you don't mind:
-Is the nuclear field always looking for recruits or is this something that I will have a hard time trying to get from the classifier at MEPS if I indeed qualify with my test scores?
-Can we have cars at A-School, Power or Prototype?
-Is the training really THAT hard?
-Can people that have medical waivers be Nukes?
-And lastly, for the home ports. You said we can be stationed permanently all over the world. Are there any in Europe and if so, are they hard to obtain?
You seem like the only seasoned nuke on here so I thought I'd ask you these questions. Thanks!
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Old 05-05-2013, 01:18 PM   #5
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Thanks Prop, that clears things up for me quite a lot. One last question, how does advancement look into E-5 and E-6?
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Old 05-05-2013, 07:17 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by warehimer33 View Post
I have a couple of questions for you, Prop, if you don't mind:
-Is the nuclear field always looking for recruits or is this something that I will have a hard time trying to get from the classifier at MEPS if I indeed qualify with my test scores?
-Can we have cars at A-School, Power or Prototype?
-Is the training really THAT hard?
-Can people that have medical waivers be Nukes?
-And lastly, for the home ports. You said we can be stationed permanently all over the world. Are there any in Europe and if so, are they hard to obtain?
You seem like the only seasoned nuke on here so I thought I'd ask you these questions. Thanks!
Alrighty, I'll try to hit up each question in order so I don't lose track. And I absolutely don't mind, I come on here to share some knowledge with you all and help you guys out much as I can. I wish someone had taken the time to tell me this stuff when I was in your shoes so maybe you'll get that little advantage I didn't have.

-Yes, we are always in dire need of nukes. The vast majority of nukes only stay for one enlistment because our civilian pay is insanely higher than military pay and so we don't get to retain a lot of nukes. To make matters worse is that it is a hard rate to qualify and pass the school for so we need a large volume coming in to make up our losses. Nuke is ALWAYS in demand, as long as you qualify nuke, you'll be offered nuke. Have your recruiter process you straight through as a nuke and you'll get it. I wasn't even offered anything else by the classifier, he sat me down and said "so you're coming in as a nuke?"

-You can have a car as soon as you hit NMT phase 2 during A School, which will be about 6 weeks after arriving in Charleston. You are REQUIRED to have a car (well they require a drivers license, car not needed though if one of your shipmates can drive you) when you go to prototype as there is no base housing available, you will be commuting from off base to work.

- The training is pretty intense. You will be in a classroom at least 12-14 hours a day learning. If you aren't in a class being taught, you are sitting there studying. Cell phones, iPods, other electronics are not allowed in the classroom even during study time and the classroom is kept library silent the whole time. The sheer volume of information you are expected to learn is massive, and the time frame is tiny. You will essentially be doing 3 years of college coursework in less than 1 year. A good example is the nuclear chemistry courses you take, here you will spend 3 weeks taking a course in chemistry; the only civilian equivalent of this course is called "Water Based Chemistry in Nuclear Reactors," a 300 level course taught at MIT (my instructor was always quick to remind us of this fact). The information is challenging but not that bad, its really the speed at which you need to learn it that makes it hard. There is also no margin for error, many of the rules and procedures we learn were created out of blood from lessons learned from others mistakes including Three Mile Island and the loss of the USS Thresher. No mistake about it, it is hard, but you can do it. The part people have more trouble with than academics (believe it or not) is not getting into trouble on liberty. The #1 way to end your nuke training is with a liberty incident, Underage drinking, DUI, etc. All nuke disqualifying.

-Yes, depending on what the waiver is. The only medical issue that is under no circumstances waiver-able is color blindness. Others are on a case by case basis, but the majority are approved.

-Well, I say all over the world because you will be assigned to a ship going out to sea, seeing the world. Shore duty for nukes is limited in choice, and you can only go on shore duty after a tour at sea. ALL nukes go out to sea their first tour. Shore duty options include Nuclear Recruiting, Boot Camp Nuclear Processing Office, Instructor Duty at NFAS, NPS, or NPTU, Naval Reactors tour as an inspector or as a military nuclear escort (Train Rider we call it - you accompany the disposal of spent nuclear materials), Specialized Maintenance Teams (going to ships to do repairs they are not capable of doing on their own), or assignment to related nuclear jobs at ports where nuclear vessels are home ported. Home ports for nuclear vessels include: Groton, CT, Norfolk, VA, Kings Bay, GA, San Diego, CA, Bremmerton, WA, Bangor, WA, Honolulu, HI, Diego Garcia (British Territory in the Indian Ocean), and Yokosuka, Japan. Japan is the only international home port a nuke would be at. Those forward deployed at Diego Garcia are also considered home ported at Kings Bay, GA.
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Old 05-05-2013, 07:24 PM   #7
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Thanks Prop, that clears things up for me quite a lot. One last question, how does advancement look into E-5 and E-6?
Advancement to E-5, for the most part, sucks. Here's the deal, as nukes we are eligible for STAR Reenlistment. Part of that program is that you automatically put on E-5 and get E-5 pay the day you decide to STAR. TONS of nukes do this. So you can get E-5 easy once you STAR for 2 more years (making your contract 8 years). You are able to STAR once you have arrived at your first duty station and have qualified either Submarine Warfare (Dolphins) or Surface Warfare (Cutlasses). The bad news is, every cycle the navy says 'we need X number of 2nd class nuke MMs, EMs, and ETs. They then say 'ok, well we picked up Y number through STAR re-enlistments this cycle, so now we only need (X-Y).' So if you want E-5 without STAR Re-Enlisting it is really tough cause there aren't very many spots open.

E-6 is on the other foot though, people get out right quick after their STAR is up cause civilian pay is so good, so nukes make E-6 and Chief very quickly. Overall advancement as a nuke is awesome, you just get a little stymied trying to get E-5 without reenlisting. But that is only temporary. 1st Class and Chief come real quick. An 8 Year Chief is not uncommon in the nuke world, and the vast majority are 10 Year Chiefs. Other ratings, the projection for 1st class can be up to 20 years in some cases.
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Old 05-05-2013, 07:42 PM   #8
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Thank you so much, Prop!! I've been looking for this info everywhere and only seem to find it from random sources. But you're a source I trust, obviously. So do you regret going nuke at all?
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Old 05-05-2013, 10:21 PM   #9
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Thank you so much, Prop!! I've been looking for this info everywhere and only seem to find it from random sources. But you're a source I trust, obviously. So do you regret going nuke at all?
No, I really don't regret it at all. Nuclear power is really fascinating and interesting to know about. Its one of those things people on the outside don't understand but you know how it works in such detail that you're comfortable around it. Civilians are afraid of a nuke plant and here we are just like 'dude, my rack is on the other side of the bulkhead of a critical reactor. we're fine. We know what we're doing."

Its a good job and I enjoy it. I'm also very thankful the navy didn't give me my first choice of rate too. In boot when asked what rates we wanted my dream sheet was ET, EM, MM (in order of preference) and I was assigned to be an EM. Now on the other side of the training and now that I know what these rates really do, boy do I LOVE being an electrician instead of a twidget!
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Old 05-05-2013, 11:39 PM   #10
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If you don't take the STAR Reenlistment, is it possible to miss your first E-5 exam due to still being in school? Then again, sounds like it'd be very rare to make it your first few tests. Definitely would need a good eval.
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Old 05-06-2013, 01:34 AM   #11
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If you don't take the STAR Reenlistment, is it possible to miss your first E-5 exam due to still being in school? Then again, sounds like it'd be very rare to make it your first few tests. Definitely would need a good eval.
No, you take your E-5 exam even if you are still in school once you have time in rate. Virtually no one advances while in school and on average it takes 5-6 exam cycles (or more) to advance off the test without STAR. (that's 2-3 years worth of tests, there's one exam every 6 months)
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Old 05-06-2013, 04:05 AM   #12
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If you don't take the STAR Reenlistment, is it possible to miss your first E-5 exam due to still being in school? Then again, sounds like it'd be very rare to make it your first few tests. Definitely would need a good eval.
Everyone in the navy takes the exam on the same day. So if you're deployed, or home, or wherever, you still take it.
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Old 05-06-2013, 07:29 AM   #13
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Prop, I have heard that Nukes are more likely to get picked up for STA-21 because of all the credits they essentially have. Is this true and would you recomend it if you were back fresh out of reactor school?
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Old 05-06-2013, 12:38 PM   #14
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Prop, I have heard that Nukes are more likely to get picked up for STA-21 because of all the credits they essentially have. Is this true and would you recomend it if you were back fresh out of reactor school?
From what my son told me, you have to have a recommendation on your evals for the STA-21. My son was recommended for it 3 times but choose not to go as he didnt really want to be locked in for that long...now he is out and since he was an MM nuke, he does make way more money now in the private sector.
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Old 05-06-2013, 02:49 PM   #15
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Prop, I have heard that Nukes are more likely to get picked up for STA-21 because of all the credits they essentially have. Is this true and would you recomend it if you were back fresh out of reactor school?
Word on the street is that STA-21 will be going away the next couple years. Because it costs the Navy too much compared to the commissioning programs where sailors already have their degree.

Also, the requirements recently changed so you now have to be in for 4 years before you are eligible.
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Old 05-06-2013, 03:50 PM   #16
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Prop, I have heard that Nukes are more likely to get picked up for STA-21 because of all the credits they essentially have. Is this true and would you recomend it if you were back fresh out of reactor school?
Yes, nukes are more likely to be picked up STA-21. however this is only true while attached to NNPTC or NPTU as a student or instructor AND when applying to be a nuke officer. This has nothing to do with the credits, its really more about keeping nukes as nukes. The nuke community tends to stick to itself. In general, if you decide to apply STA 21 while at the right commands, there's about a 70% pick up rate. Once you go out to the fleet, you are lumped in with the rest of the fleet and the numbers return to normal. This is just one of those things about being a nuke that is unique to our program. This also means the only time you can apply and have the advantage is DURING school (which is the vast majority) or when returning to school as an instructor after your first sea tour.
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Old 05-06-2013, 03:53 PM   #17
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Word on the street is that STA-21 will be going away the next couple years. Because it costs the Navy too much compared to the commissioning programs where sailors already have their degree.

Also, the requirements recently changed so you now have to be in for 4 years before you are eligible.
Not True for nukes, there is no minimum time in service for us, we have our own pipeline into STA-21. STA-21 picks up nukes from nuke school to fill its quota THEN turns to the rest of the fleet to pick out the remaining spots for nuke officers. They logic out you have a better chance of success staying in the school environment than having been out to sea then suddenly back in the school environment. How long STA-21 is staying I don't know, but the 4 years does not apply to nukes currently assigned to NNPTC or NPTU.
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Old 05-06-2013, 04:17 PM   #18
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Not True for nukes, there is no minimum time in service for us, we have our own pipeline into STA-21. STA-21 picks up nukes from nuke school to fill its quota THEN turns to the rest of the fleet to pick out the remaining spots for nuke officers. They logic out you have a better chance of success staying in the school environment than having been out to sea then suddenly back in the school environment. How long STA-21 is staying I don't know, but the 4 years does not apply to nukes currently assigned to NNPTC or NPTU.
I'd double check that. It just changed within the last month or so.

Edit: The STA-21 website still says there is no time in requirement, but I was just reading something about it the other day, and how it had just changed.
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Old 05-09-2017, 08:58 AM   #19
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So i got two waivers for my "d" in algebra two and precalculus (made it up in the Summertime) but I got a passing score for nuke from the ASVAB and NAPT. My parents are also from Hong Kong but are naturalized citizens. Do you think I still can get into the nuke program?
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Old 05-09-2017, 09:36 AM   #20
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So i got two waivers for my "d" in algebra two and precalculus (made it up in the Summertime) but I got a passing score for nuke from the ASVAB and NAPT. My parents are also from Hong Kong but are naturalized citizens. Do you think I still can get into the nuke program?

This is really a question for your recruiter..it can depend on several factors..do your parents go back to visit family, do you go and visit family there, etc...not to be a downer, but if you have trouble with higher math, are you sure you want to be a nuke? Most nukes are kinda math nerds..my son was and still is, he kind of thinks mathematically all the time. Even so the schooling pipeline was very hard for him but he did finish second in his classes.
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Old 05-09-2017, 10:01 AM   #21
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They haven't been back to Hong Kong since the 90's. I talked to my recruiter about my parents not being us citizens and she said she doesn't know how detrimental that is to my case. I talked to my parents about any ties over there, and they claim they don't have any close connections over there anymore. In terms of academic, I'm right now in college taking precalculus right now and doing fine. I'm just concerned about my parents birth place affecting my chance of getting into the nuke program.
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Old 05-10-2017, 12:21 PM   #22
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They haven't been back to Hong Kong since the 90's. I talked to my recruiter about my parents not being us citizens and she said she doesn't know how detrimental that is to my case. I talked to my parents about any ties over there, and they claim they don't have any close connections over there anymore. In terms of academic, I'm right now in college taking precalculus right now and doing fine. I'm just concerned about my parents birth place affecting my chance of getting into the nuke program.
Then all you can do is start the process, during the background check if there is a problem you will be notified, if it is an issue, you may have to reclassify to another rate that doesn't have such a high clearance.
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Old 06-07-2017, 04:44 PM   #23
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If you are a US citizen you are eligible for the Nuke program. Your clearance might take a little longer to come through than most, but your parents citizenship does not affect your eligibility.
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Old 06-07-2017, 11:29 PM   #24
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Only 1 year 2 months of actual school.. A bonus..and you basically cap up to second when you make tir? Nuke life sounds great.

My situation is: come in as an e1 with no bonus.. 2 years of school, no auto avdancement to e4.. No star.

All yall joining as nukes are very fortunate regardless of what anyone says
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Old 07-07-2017, 10:45 PM   #25
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If you are a US citizen you are eligible for the Nuke program. Your clearance might take a little longer to come through than most, but your parents citizenship does not affect your eligibility.
I've been reading through these threads from various sources for about a year now but I just made an account because I saw this particular post.

I enlisted as a Nuke last year around August, and concerning the whole having parents from a different country thing, it won't really complicate things. I'm from the Philippines and so are my parents, the only real issue was that 1) It took a year to get my security clearance. 2) My parents are divorced and one isn't a citizen and we lost track of him. And 3)Passports. In my case, I had 3 passports plus a green card. When my passports expired and had to get updated, it made a crap ton of problems because it implies that I had dual citizenship. Anyways my recruiters said it would be fine but at MEPs they said they can't give me Nuke until this all got sorted out. So I flew out from Georgia to San Francisco to go to the consulate to renounce any form of allegiance to the Philippines and also giving up my passports and getting a piece of paper stating I did so. Anyways, once all of that was done, it was a legit waiting game and a few chats with the investigator. Other than that I'm off the hook and will be shipping this Tuesday July 11th for boot camp as a Nuke.
Good luck to you, hope you make it too!
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Old 09-07-2017, 01:43 AM   #26
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No, I really don't regret it at all. Nuclear power is really fascinating and interesting to know about. Its one of those things people on the outside don't understand but you know how it works in such detail that you're comfortable around it. Civilians are afraid of a nuke plant and here we are just like 'dude, my rack is on the other side of the bulkhead of a critical reactor. we're fine. We know what we're doing."

Its a good job and I enjoy it. I'm also very thankful the navy didn't give me my first choice of rate too. In boot when asked what rates we wanted my dream sheet was ET, EM, MM (in order of preference) and I was assigned to be an EM. Now on the other side of the training and now that I know what these rates really do, boy do I LOVE being an electrician instead of a twidget!
thanks prop for all the information. it has been really helpful. i just got told today that i got accepted into the nuke program and now im just waiting for a ship date! I had to get an age waiver because im about to be 26 this month. Also I have a degree in electronics engineering so i am hoping to go ETn.

Anyway, I noticed you also wanted ETn but said you were glad you got EMn instead. I could go either way but im not sure which to pick because no one will tell me what each one actually does AFTER school lol .

I was hoping you could enlighten me. Why are you glad you got EMn over ETn?
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Old 09-11-2017, 09:47 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Double 00 Jetti View Post
thanks prop for all the information. it has been really helpful. i just got told today that i got accepted into the nuke program and now im just waiting for a ship date! I had to get an age waiver because im about to be 26 this month. Also I have a degree in electronics engineering so i am hoping to go ETn.

Anyway, I noticed you also wanted ETn but said you were glad you got EMn instead. I could go either way but im not sure which to pick because no one will tell me what each one actually does AFTER school lol .

I was hoping you could enlighten me. Why are you glad you got EMn over ETn?
Here's the scoop on what each rate does when they actually get to the Fleet. This is mostly from a submarine perspective, but it's similar on the surface.

EM: EM's are responsible for everything electrical on a submarine. If it has electricity running to it, E-Div is responsible for maintaining it. This includes every motor and generator on the boat, all of the galley equipment, water heaters, lighting, circuit breakers and electrical distribution systems, and more. A new electrician on the boat will work toward qualification as Electrical Operator. This is the person responsible for operating the electric plant when the propulsion plant is up and running. Prior to that qualification, junior electricians will stand watch as Throttleman or Auxiliary Electrician. EM's also qualify as a Shutdown Reactor Operator. Electricians ALWAYS have maintenance to do because they are responsible for so much equipment. A lot of that maintenance results in getting covered in carbon dust.

ET: ET's are responsible for everything having to do with reactor instrumentation and control. Any piece of equipment related to those things will be maintained by ET's. This involves periodic testing of the equipment to ensure proper response to ensure reactor safety. New ET's will work toward qualification as Reactor Operator. They are the ones sitting at the panel when the plant is up and running. ET's also qualify as Shutdown Reactor Operator. Prior to those qualifications ET's qualify and stand watch as Reactor Technician, monitoring all of the reactor control equipment outside the maneuvering room.

MM: God's chosen rate. MM's operate and maintain all mechanical equipment associated with the propulsion plant. This includes pumps, valves, heat exchangers, and turbines. They also operate the air conditioning units. They work on steam, lube oil, and seawater systems as well. MM's get pretty dirty in the course of their work. the goal for new MM's on the boat is to qualify as Engine Room Supervisor. Prior to that you will qualify several other mechanical watchstations. (3 or 4 depending on the class of boat.)

Engineering Laboratory Technician (ELT): ELT's are a branch off of the MM rate. Following Prototype, some MM's will be selected to go to ELT school before they go to their first boat. Most are volunteers but, in my case, I was "volun-told" to go. ELT's have 2 main functions. First is chemistry. ELT's take water sample from various systems in the plant at the required frequencies and analyze them for various chemical parameters. They then make the necessary adjustments to keep theses parameters within the required specification. Pretty much like a pool boy. Their second function is radiological controls (RADCON). This involves performing radiation and contamination surveys throughout the ship on a routine basis, controlling any radioactive material generated during maintenance, and responding to any radiological casualties that may occur such as radioactive liquid spills. Since ELT's are MM's, they will qualify and stand all of the normal MM watches.
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