My short bio: Hello. I enlisted in the US Navy in January 2011 and was honorably discharged in January after doing one six year contract. I since have obtained a job as a civilian. Feel free to ask anything from Navy life, to Submarine life, to the transition. Thanks!

Edit: A nuclear reactor operator controls the nuclear reactor that powers all of the US Submarines. We have no interaction with nuclear weapons and I know nothing about how nuclear weapons are built, work, or operate.

I am leaving for a while but will update periodically. Thank you everyone!

My Proof:

Comments: 248 • Responses: 84  • Date: 

ftxs43 karma

When recruiters try to sell being a Nuke on people applying to enlist their number one selling line is "you'll have a job lined up making six figures once you get out, guaranteed."

Have you found that to be true?

Norzeforce75 karma

I am making just under 100k this year. Granted, that is in southern California so cost of living is high, but I had zero problem finding a job when I got out. I gave my resume to a headhunter a week after my last deployment and I had a job three weeks later. This was a month and a half before I got out so my transition out of the navy was easy.

IMO, this is one thing that recruiters are not lying about. YMMV of course.

Norzeforce63 karma

I should also mention I only have a high school diploma and the training I received in the Navy.

medinonags30 karma

What was the most scary thing of your old job?

Norzeforce82 karma

There were two instances of when I felt like I was in actual danger. I must be vague for confidentiality purposes.

  1. A submarine that isn't moving while submerged is sinking. Much like a plane. We use steam to turn our propeller and if the steam were to fail for some reason, we have an electric motor that can then turn the propeller. We were running drills one day and simulated the steam system failing. No big deal. We then went to turn on the electric motor, and the breaker for that failed resulting in us not having any useful means of propulsion. Very rarely, have I seen people run that fast to troubleshoot and restore the steam system.

  2. We were on a mission and while doing said mission, A LOT of enemy ships were around. More than anticipated. It was a very tense couple days and sound silencing was of the utmost importance.

IanalystI30 karma

What do you mean by 'Sound Silencing'?

Norzeforce84 karma

When submerged, noises travel VERY long distances underwater. Much like animals use sonar to track food and whatnot, submarines use sonar to track other submarines. So if while doing work, a wrench is dropped and makes a loud TING noise, that can be heard outside the hull for MILES around. Or someone slams a door or a valve. MILES around. When enemy ships are with hundreds of yards, any slightest noise will alert them that you are near. Sound silencing is the practice of being quite, and is one of the hardest things for new sailors to learn.

IanalystI27 karma

Ok, with that said, I don't understand how you keep the sub from sinking, since you have to keep engines running, at the same time as sound silencing is occuring. I would think the noise made by the sub as it moves would be much louder than dropping a wrench?

Norzeforce57 karma

Our propellers on our submarines are on of the most classified things on the boat. Whenever a submarine goes into drydock, the propeller is covered IMMEDIATELY and that is because it is designed to be silent. Our submarines engines and propellers are quite. Also sound transients are only severe if they occur through piping or the hull. Yelling across the engine room wont cause a sound transient because it is just through air but dropping something and it landing on something connected to the hull is what we are most worried about.

radioc14 karma

I have heard that nuclear submarines are loud as hell compared to non nuclear subs. The cooling pumps always have to work and they make a very well known sound underwater.

I am just an elbow submariner and am probably totally wrong.

I would like to know how you would compare the soundlevel of a nuclear sub to a, for example, german type 212 hydrogen sub. Both subs have totally different objectives. But I really would like to know the difference. Thank you in advance!

Norzeforce31 karma

Nuclear submarines are consistenly louder than diesel submarines that run off batteries (but not by much). However, our beneifts are that we can travel very very long without having to surface and diesel boats have to surface every day to run the diesel (which is loud as fuck) to recharge their batteries.

However, when we need to be quiter than average, we can reduce pump speeds and turn off some known offenders for making noise. These lower our sound signature greatly.

DeadEyeDoc12 karma

I imagine that sound silencing is very difficult for the cook.

Norzeforce28 karma

Pans and silverware were dropped a lot and they always had to call sonar and tell them that they had caused a noise transient.

8andahalfby118 karma

How do you keep the toilets quiet?

Norzeforce16 karma

We flush them to a tank so nothing goes overboard until we are ready for it to.

8andahalfby116 karma

What I guess I meant was... doesn't hitting the inside of the bowl cause a transient, or are the toilets shock isolated from the hull? Or does it not make enough noise to matter?

Norzeforce15 karma

The toilets are shock insulated. However, the valves we use to flush them are from seawater adn are attached to the hull, so a common problem was if a valve got stuck and someone pulled a valve to hard to flush and slammed it, it would cause a MAJOR noise transient.

boblechock4 karma

Whoa! Talk about dying for a shit!

Seriously though was there somewhere you could go to just go throw things around and get it out of your system? Tiptoe-ing around like that all day must have been mentally tiring?

Norzeforce17 karma

Angry masturbation. Only half kidding.

crkrbrl3 karma

What happens if someone snores heavily? Do you keep waking him up?

Norzeforce13 karma

Those people tend to get segregated so all the snorers sleep in the same corner.

crkrbrl6 karma

When I was at Great Lakes I had a guy come up and pinch my nose because I was keeping the whole compartment up. It took awhile to redeem myself.

Norzeforce7 karma

When I was at great mistakes I always slept like a champ for some reason.

BooYeah04843 karma

Cant you surface with just an emergency blow though?

Norzeforce6 karma

We absolutely could. But that is pretty dangerous and always been told that gets a Captain fired. Also that is your absolute last shot at surviving. If that fails, you dead.

MrZander21 karma

What exactly does a nuclear reactor operator do?

What kind of credentials do you need to get such a position?

What kinda food do they feed you?

Thanks for doing this AMA!

Norzeforce28 karma

  1. A reactor operator is actually a watchstation. My official job title is Nuclear Electronics Technician. So we qualify multiple watches after we show up to the boat. Reactor Operator is the senior watchstation for Nuclear Electronics Technicians. You sit at a panel for many hours a day and are constantly monitoring temperature, pressure, water levels, and reactor power. You take logs every hour on these parameters. Depending on the class of submarine you are on ( I was on a Los Angeles Class), you have 2 or 3 other people in the room; a junior officer called the Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW) Electrical operator (EO), and Throttleman (TH; this watch doesnt exist on later class of submarines) and as a team you run the reactor by controlling steam to the engines (TH) and steam to the turbines (EO).

  2. Score high on the ASVAB and you can be a nuke. There are 3 and a half types of nukes. ETN which is me and will be a reactor operator. EMN are the electrician and work with turbines and high voltages. MMN are mechanics and do pipe and wrench things. MMN can also be ELTs which handle chemistry of the primary and secondary systems.

  3. I have always heard that submariners are fed the best and if that is true then it must suck to be a surface guy because the food wasnt very good. We had pasta all the time and cheap chicken and cheap steak occasionally. Some days the food was pretty good but most of the time it was just sustenance. We were rationed while I Was on board one time because were running out of food and during that time it was just plain noodles with bread and a very small protein every meal. It was awful.

N3a20 karma

Could you come and go as you please inside the sub or were you restricted to specific areas ?

Norzeforce29 karma

Are you referring to inside the sub while underway? All submarines have AT LEAST a confidential clearance so usually we could go anywhere. If the officers were having a top secret meeting or our location was top secret then certain parts of the ship were off limits unless you had a TOP SECRET clearance. That was rare though.

alien_from_Europa18 karma

What is your favorite submarine sandwich?

Norzeforce25 karma

I loved Cannonball sandwhiches which was just meatballs on a subroll. But every sunday was grilled cheese and tomato soup and those were usually pretty good too.

N3a18 karma

How does it feel to see the sun every day ?

Norzeforce37 karma

Incredible. More importantly, I get to come home every day from work as well. No more deployments and no more duty.

TonyEatsPonies10 karma

As an ETN2(SS), aw yeah, talk dirty to me.

Norzeforce20 karma

It gets better homie. Unless you re-enlist then it stays the same.

ThoughtlessTurtle4 karma

Duty days sucked. I was on a DDG for 3 years. We normally had 6 section duty but on deployment or holiday stand down it was 3. How many duty sections did you have?

Norzeforce8 karma

I was three my whole time until I qualified Engineering Watch Supervisor. When I got bumped up to the supervisor watch bill I was seven to eight section. Happiest five months of my career.

N3a16 karma

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much did you usually hate your fellow mates after a long mission ?

Norzeforce31 karma

Missions didnt really affect the nukes that much. Our job is to make the boat go and not kill everyone. So whether it was on mission or just transiting didnt really make much of a difference to us. But, you definitely get tired of sitting in the same room with the same people for 8 hours a day for months on end without a break. So alone time was always required after reaching port.

CaptCurmudgeon15 karma

How long was the longest time you went in between seeing people outside of your submarine?

Norzeforce32 karma

My longest time underwater was 77 days. That was also my longest time not going to a pier.

truetowhoIam7 karma

Do you go stir crazy at all?

Norzeforce18 karma

No. The days go by slow but collective time flies. Once you get in the routine after 8 - 9 days, it all becomes a blur.

N3a15 karma

Was your academic background related to nuclear subs before enlisting ?

Norzeforce39 karma

I have a high school diploma and was going to college for Accounting until I got an internship and realized I hated accounting. So no, it wasnt. Never thought I would be in the military much less a submariner, and even less a nuke. I joined because I was bored, wanted out of KY, and nukes offered a signing bonus. This story is typical of most nukes.

TJ4President14 karma

What surprised you most when you first boarded a submarine?

Norzeforce27 karma

Well immediately, how cramped it was. I am 6' 2 and about 240 lbs so that was hard for me to get used to.

Psychologically though, it was the bond that submariners build up by the shittyness of it all. I do not know how to phrase it, but new, sailors show up and are not really accepted. Two things must occur before they are treated like humans:

  1. They get their warfare device (their fish).

  2. They experience some of the shitty parts of submarining. Watch, followed by drills, then field day in their oncoming to have watch again with training in the offgoing then sleeping for 6 hours to do it all again. That shittyness creates bonds.

Just my two cents about the surprises of submarining.

ahappypoop11 karma

What was the longest you ever stayed submerged? Did anyone ever get bored after long periods in the sub or was there always enough to do to keep everyone busy?

Thanks for doing this AMA!

Norzeforce15 karma

77 days.

The monotony of doing the same thing every day led to boredom but it also made time fly. You dive underwater, get in the routine, and two months later you surface like nothing ever happened.

Ghostiix1211 karma

of all jobs in this world, what made you want to go operate a nuclear reactor in a metal tube underwater ?

Norzeforce16 karma

I became a nuke for the money. I became a submariner because I wanted to be stationed in San Diego and it raised my chances. Both choices have played out very well for me.

upvoteguy610 karma

When the united states was allowed on a leased Russian made sub, what information do you think they gained from this visit? ?

Norzeforce19 karma

People smarter than me probably were looking for somethings in particular but I have no idea.

We had Indian Officers on board our boat for a week one time and they used the time to watch how we ran drills. Fire drills, flooding, air ruptures and what not. They were very carefully watched and guarded to make sure they did not go in the engine room though.

Wilreadit7 karma

You mentioned elsewhere that you guys covered the props anytime a sub berthed. Can't dudes from other navies just steal such secrets while aboard?

Norzeforce16 karma

You cannot see the propeller while in the ship and you cant see it when it is in the water either. We always have an escort assigned to visiting officers to prevent that and whenever we did tours, we would stow all classified material to prevent that from happening.

Wilreadit5 karma

Right o. So it is more of a 'show' visit than an actual internship.

Anyway if you do not mind me asking in what position are you working currently?

And do you think nuke reactors for non military purposes have a future, esp in the wake of Fukushima disaster.

Norzeforce8 karma

I design and repair electrical cabinets for a defense contractor. So I still get to work with the Navy just as a civilian contractor.

I think nuclear power would be an incredible source of power for the world. I am only trained on old nuclear power theory and know nothing about sodium reactors and all the other new "non-meltdownable" reactors but even with what I do know, it is very safe. However, mother nature will win every time so it is a difficult conversation to have.

og_m410 karma

  • Is the fuel loaded by hand or is that done by robots?

  • Does the accelerator of the submarine basically just move control rods up or down, or is the power delivery more indirect (e.g. electricity generated by the reactor driving turbines)

  • Do you have a geiger counter?

Norzeforce22 karma

  1. I was never part of a refueling procedure so I am not knoweldgable on that process.

  2. We use control rods to control the heat output of the reactor which makes the primary system very very hot. We then transfer that heat to the secondary system to make steam which spins turbines to make electricity as well as using steam to spin the engines for propulsion.

  3. We had many types of different counters that tested for neutrons, alphas, and other types of ionizing radiation.

Uckheavy123 karma

Former nuke here. The refueling process is not done by robots. The tasks involved in changing the fuel rods out are practiced for a long time before they let people do it on real fuel. They practice it so that the people involved can minimize the time that they are near the fuel. (ie one group goes in and connects the fuel to the crane rig that is used to lift the fuel off of the transport. As soon as it is connected, they back away to an area of lower radiation levels.) There are three principle methods of reducing exposure, Time ( less time equals less exposure), Distance (the further you are from the source of radiation, the less exposure you recieve), and Shielding (using appropriate materials to attenuate the radiation; high density materials like lead, tungsten, steel for gamma, water, oil, and some plastics for neutron)

Norzeforce15 karma

Thank you for the assist!

Playisomemusik7 karma

There is essentially no need to refuel. There is at least 20 years worth. Everyone wears a rad counter. The only limiting aspect is the amount of food you can carry. A sub can stay down and operate indefinitely, there are CO2 scrubbers aboard and the reactor powers a de-salinator. However, your hotracking bunk mate is likely to be a dirty POS.

Norzeforce12 karma

Concur with the hotracking dirty POS.

DanishxAssassin3 karma

What’s happening there with hotracking (is someone always occupying a bed?)? And what kind of antics did your fellow hotrackers get up to that made you dislike them (pranks, uncleanliness,etc)?

Norzeforce17 karma

3 people are assigned to 2 racks. One person is on watch and the other two can sleep. So that means when one person gets off watch another person is getting up to go on watch and that rack becomes open. This means your sharing a rotating space with two other people. Common pitfalls are:

Dirty laundry is smelly

Your rack mate doesnt shower enough

They have to wake you up to get something that is stowed below you

You find happy time socks everywhere

ExtraShard9 karma

What were the bathrooms like?

Norzeforce34 karma

We typically have about 120 people give or take a few onboard when we are underway. There are a total of 5 bathrooms on board and are split up as follows. - One bathroom with one pooper and shower for the CO and XO to share (2 people) -One bathroom with one pooper and shower for E7 and above to share (approx 10 -13 people) -One bathroom with one pooper and shower for Junior officers and department heads to share ( approx 10 -13 people) - One bathroom with 3 poopers and 2 showers for E1 - E5 ( approx a fuck ton of people) -One bathroom with one pooper and one shower for E6 and overflow of E5 (approx a fuck ton)

GrindyMcGrindy7 karma

How has your hearing been since getting out? My dad's hearing has been bad since he got out in the early 90s, and being a nuke reactor operator too.

Norzeforce7 karma

A lot of people I know have Tinnitus but I have not noticed any change in my hearing personally. I was pretty good about wearing ear plugs in the engine room though.

GrindyMcGrindy6 karma

That's good. Do you notice that you can sleep pretty much any where too?

Norzeforce12 karma

I can sleep anywhere at any time. I am a big fan of this skill.

StupidAstroDroid7 karma

Are you team Boomer or team Fast Attack?

Norzeforce9 karma

Fast attack!

StupidAstroDroid6 karma

Atta boy. My brother is the COB on a fast attack based in San Diego. Thanks for your service!

Norzeforce3 karma

Nice. My boat was out of Point Loma as well so I am sure we ran into each other at some point.

StupidAstroDroid3 karma

Side question: I know that some boats such as the frigates were ridden hard and used until they couldn't be used anymore. You might have to tailor your answer to your specific boat but how do you feel about the current status of our submarine force as far as maintenance and upkeep goes?

Norzeforce3 karma

Well, the Los Angeles classes are almost decommisioned. I do not believe their are a lot of them left. So they are in pretty rough shape as the approach 30+ years of operation. On my boat, something was always broke. Hydraulic systems leaked everywhere and cleaning up the oil all over the place was a constant battle.

Working on Virgina class subs in my civilian life has showed me that isnt always the case though. Those boats are pretty nice. Because they are new obviously. Having worked at multiple shipyards and seeing all the new subs being built and repaired, I think our submarine force is in good shape.

Wilreadit7 karma

Hey thanks for the AMA. Much appreciated.

  1. What kind of power output did you get from the reactor?

  2. Were you in contact with nuke experts on land or were you operating in anonymity?

  3. How long can a nuke submarine operate submerged?

  4. How was your life on board: food, sleep, entertainment, that sorta thing.


Norzeforce22 karma

  1. Classified, sorry

  2. If we had stuff go wrog, we would send a message to Naval Reactors and squadron detailing the issue, how we are troubleshooting, and what were going to do to fix it.

  3. Indefinitely depending on food supplies. Those are the limiting factor.

  4. Food - meh. Sleep- usually bad (5 - 6 hours a night but usually interrupted) Entertainment wasnt bad. Everyone has their own laptop and hardrive to watch shows and movies. We had 3 Xbox 360 in the crews mess to play call of duty and stuff. Just finding time for those is tough.

Wilreadit7 karma

Ha ha CoD onboard a Navy sub. That is cool. How was the sound onboard. I have heard that Nukes are silent

Norzeforce9 karma

Nuclear submarines are consistenly louder than diesel submarines that run off batteries (but not by much). However, our beneifts are that we can travel very very long without having to surface and diesel boats have to surface every day to run the diesel (which is loud as fuck) to recharge their batteries.

Wilreadit3 karma

What about during 'quiet mode' you mentioned when you try to prevent sonars from tracking you? Do you switch the reactor off?

Norzeforce8 karma

No but we do turn off certain pieces of equipment. The reactor itself is silent. Pumps, and flowing of liquids can be loud though so there are certain things we turn off or turn down to make us quiter. If it is SUPER IMPORTANT to be quite, we send every off watch person to the rack. Those are the absolute best of times.

snoboreddotcom5 karma

Have you seen/heard of the game Cold Waters (Where you play as a nuclear sub captain in an 1968 or 1984 cold war gone hot)? If you have seen it what are your thoughts on it? If not does it seem like something interesting to you?

Norzeforce5 karma

No I have never heard of it and I do not think it would interest me. I did enough submarining in real life haha.

SuddenLiberty5 karma

  1. How tall are you and how tall is too tall for a sub?

  2. Do ship people and sub people get along?

  3. How do you feel about the Coast Guard?

  4. Was the sub fairly big or was every inch utilized?

  5. I saw in one of the other comments, you mentioned "enemy ships and subs". Are there really countries that we are actively in conflict with that have a navy that pose a threat?

Norzeforce8 karma

  1. 6 foot 2 inches and there was an E-8 that was 6' 9. He was too tall to fit in his rack.

  2. We each have our prejudices against the other but its mostly in good fun.

  3. There is a reason they are part of Homeland Security and not the Department of Defense :)

  4. Every inch is used for something.

  5. All it takes for a threat is one torpedo to sink a carrier killing 5k people. Most people would consider that a devastating attack. Almost all enemy countries have a torpedo. That being said, I do not think Naval Warfare is truly a big part of modern war. With long range missiles and jets that can fly around the world, submaring is about intelligence and being on site for instant counter attacks if needed.

SuddenLiberty5 karma

  1. Is your favorite movie "The Hunt for Red October" or has your time in the service soured it?

  2. Have you ever seen anyone royally fuck up their job?

Norzeforce7 karma

  1. Its a pretty good movie and accurate to what submarining is like. Down Periscope is also very accurate haha.

  2. Yea a few times. If someone fucks up they go to what is called Captains Mast where they will get demoted, lose money, and be forced to remain on the ship even during in port time. Examples that will cause this to happen and that I ahve witnessed:


Making up logs because they are to lazy to go look at the numbers

Failure to follow a procedure

Attempting to clear a tag without authorization potentially killing someone

SuddenLiberty2 karma

Outside of the US, who has the best navy?

Norzeforce10 karma

I am certainly not qualified to give an answer on that. However, the few Russian ships I have seen looked pretty dope and they have a titanium submarine that can go stupid fucking deep so thats pretty cool. Australians (and Canadians?) have beer on their subs so thats pretty cool.

SuddenLiberty4 karma

I always thought the English would have a pretty good Navy.

Norzeforce5 karma

I dont think I have ever once interacted with their navy or been in port with them.

Rapsberry5 karma

During your service, have you ever felt fear (like, actual fear) over the news you were getting? Like when Russia took Crimea, for example?

I am asking because I am russian myself, and a buddy of mine serves in the army. Afaik there was a certain degree of fear common among the servicemen when the events in the Ukraine in early 2014 unfolded.

Norzeforce6 karma

There were a few times on deployment where China or N. Korea would get frisky and we would be on high alert but for the nukes, that doesnt really change anything. We just keep the lights on and the ship moving at whatever knots the OOD ordered up. Also, my ship was not armed enough to do something in retaliation if someone did start a war with us.

lolyouseriousbro5 karma

Hi, thanks for doing this. I have a couple general questions

What was nuke school like? How hard was it, how much did you study, what was your general day like during that period? I've heard you basically go to classes in the morning and then are pretty free for the rest of the day, assuming you are doing well in your classes.

Best nuke rate for getting a good paying job when you get out, EM ET or MM? Which were you and which would you recommend if you were starting all over from scratch.

And one last question, how hard is the PFT at boot camp and at what point in boot camp do you have to pass it? I leave in like 6 weeks and am pretty close to being able to pass all the tests, I just suck at push ups though, only can do like 75% of what I need. Again thanks for this AMA

Norzeforce15 karma

Nuke school is tough. We had 3 people drop out in A school out of 30, a similar fail rate in power school and 20% in prototype. There are two types of people in nuke school and you have to be honest with which type of person you are.

  1. The flash memorizer - I did very well in nuke school because I can memorize the shit out of shit. Nuke school is powerpoints where you write down word that appear in red and then have to be able to regurgitate those words on a test later in the week. No multiple choice. You must verbatim be able to write those words down, and it is A LOT of stuff you probably have never seen before. If you are able to memorize it then nuke school will be easy. I was this person. I had 3.8 gpa through "A" and power school and was on voluntary hours throughout both; meaning I did not have to come in for extra studying unless it was the night before a test. So I was in class from 7 - 4 and that was it. THESE PEOPLE ARE THE MINORITY!

  2. The second person is someone that has to understand it to be able to regurgitate things and they require much more time to be able to do well on tests. But they are probably better off because they actually understand the stuff.

Based on your GPA they require hours. This may not be exact but it is how I remember it. If your 3.4+ your on vols which means no mandatory study hours. 3.2 - 3.4 is like 10/2 meaning 2 hours mandatory studying after class to equal ten hours per week. 3/0 - 3.2 is like 20/3. 3 hours after classs to equal 20 hours a week. if your at like 2.8 - 2.9 it can be as high as 35/5. 5 hours after class to equal 35 hours a week. So class from 7 - 4 then mandatory study from 4-9 or 5 - 10 and your ass is coming in on weekends to study some more. These are the people that truly hate nuke school.

I was an ET. I dont think any rate has an easier time getting ajob than others. If you like welding, go MM and try to go to weld school. Or if you liek chemistry, go MM and be an ELT

The PFT in boot camp occurs three times with the last one being the real one. Push ups situp and 1.5 mile run. I was in shape when I joined so it wasnt hard but I was one of liek 6 that passed the initial PFA at week 4. Only 2 people failed the final real one so just keep working hard at it. Adrenaline helps too because you know if you fail the last one you dont graduate.

Vorenvs4 karma

Thanks for doing this, OP! I've always found submarining hugely interesting. I have three questions:

  1. When on mission, did you know where you were, or was that classified?

  2. Also you mentioned being near enemy ships once... Were you aware of who that enemy was, or was that kept from crew? Was there lots of gossip about missions?

  3. Are submariners chosen for a particular personality type above and beyond being smart? I can imagine you'd want a group of calm, cerebral, and patient people running a sub.


Norzeforce7 karma

It was supposed to be Top Secret but my captain would pull up a map and of the Pacific and say we are somewhere in the ocean while non chalantly pointing at prett specifically general area.

Again it was supposed to be secret but word gets around.

It really didn’t seem that way. They took whoever volunteered really. They depended on the crew to weed out the undesirables. And weed them out we did.

mwatwe014 karma

Former RO as well.

  • East Coast or West Coast?
  • If you were fast attack, favorite foreign port? If you were boomer, I'm sorry.
  • Any fun stories of harassing the mechanics, or being similarly hazed?

Norzeforce8 karma

  1. West coast is the best coast.
  2. I really like Guam to be at for a couple weeks at a time. Yoko is alright as well because of the Honch. We never got any really cool ports except Singapore and that shit was expensive.
  3. We just liked stealing M-Div tools, especially the 7/16. It was also fun having RC vs M wrestling matches by the mains.

Wilreadit7 karma

Any 'gay' activities? Pardon me but we do here a lot about periodic homosexuality among men confined to male only spaces for long periods of time. Just wanted an insider's perspective

Norzeforce13 karma

There were two openly gay guys on the boat when I served. They were treated just the same as everyone else and nothing sexual ever happend. There were of course instances of guys being guys (running around with dicks out or sack tapping) but no sexually gratifying stuff ever happened to my knowledge.

StPierreB3 karma

They were treated just the same as everyone else and nothing sexual ever happend

Yeah, speaking as someone else who was in the navy, I can guarantee you shit was going on you just didn't know about it. If not on the ship then in port. We had officers who were fucking enlisted guys in hotels. We also had the highest rate of drug use of any ship on the west coast, so there's that.

Norzeforce6 karma

What they did in port was their own business. And I promise you submarines are different than the surface ship you were on. It is too small and cramped for that stuff to happen on a submarine.

jakeof_statefarm4 karma

How hard is it to get “chosen” (for lack of a better word) or assigned for a role that appeals to someone? I’ve gotten good grades in high school and am taking a gap year currently, but I would only join a branch of the armed forces if I knew what my position would be.

Norzeforce6 karma

The navy tells you your position before you sign any paperwork. You can go in undesignated if you want. But I knew I was going to be a nuke before I signed any contract. I didnt know which flavor of nuke, but I knew I was a nuke.

I have no knowledge if other branches do that.

jakeof_statefarm3 karma

And how does one choose or select a position? Is it something that is determined after the initial recruitment? Or is it something that I can walk in and just say, “I want to be a ___”? And what are some things that all members of the armed forces share?

Thank you for your service, and Happy (late) Veterans day!

Norzeforce7 karma

You start by taking a fake ASVAB which is just a multiple choice test and your scored out of 99. If you score high you have your pick of whatever you want to be, intelligence, sonar, fire technician, cook. If you score low they will tell you what you qualify for. It is that easy. If you dont like what you qualify for, then you walk out.

EHEC3 karma

What are your thoughts on the NPT?

Norzeforce5 karma

I think your talking about the nuke pipeline?

Its pretty effective at training, but like most jobs, you dont actually learn to be useful until your on a boat doing the job. Theory is good but experience is what makes a good nuke vs a bad nuke.

matta9973 karma

He could also mean the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is an odd question to ask a reactor technician.

Norzeforce5 karma

Im just a lowly enlisted and know nothing about what that is haha.

Erezbiox13 karma

Can the reactor go kaboom? ( actual question )

Norzeforce9 karma

The reactor on a submarine is not of the quality to make an explosion like an atom bomb. What it can do is meltdown though. If cooling is not applied to it sufficent quantity, it can reach many thousands of degrees melting through its containment vessel and releasing the highly radioactive fission products to the surrounding environment.

yoyo25983 karma

Is it pretty much game over for the sub If in the unlikely event that were to happen?

Norzeforce10 karma

Yes the people on board are dead if we have reached the point of fission product release to the enviornment. Also the reactor core will be hot enough to melt through the submarine and cause uncontrollable flooding

Erezbiox12 karma

you said the reactor can reach thousands of degrees, so if a fuel tank were near buy, kaboom boom?

Norzeforce8 karma

Sure I guess. The kaboom is less of a concern when you have a multithousand degree rock putting out unseeable particles that will kill you in seconds and destroy the world. But yea I guess a kaboom could happen.

Erezbiox15 karma


Norzeforce6 karma

Dilly Dilly!

Renrougey3 karma

In your opinion, why is E div so much better than RC div?

Norzeforce6 karma

On a LA class E div works WAY harder than RC div so they got that going for them. But in reality, we know E div is just the dumb version of RC div.

Furk5 karma

Ex-RL div here. Can confirm RC div is a bunch of nerds.

Norzeforce3 karma

SMAG are just nerdy mechanics.

genokaii3 karma

Ohio, Seawolf or a Virginia Class? im currently a Nuclear Inspector building Virginia class

Norzeforce4 karma

Los Angeles Class. I do a lot of work with nuclear stuff on Virginia classes now as a civilian though. I was just in Newport News last week and travel to Groton and Pearl a lot for work.

Captingray3 karma

Hey man, this is awesome that you're doing this. I am currently pursuing a NE degree, and am in the middle of the process of applying for the NUPOC program. One of the options is sub/surface warfare, however I am leaning towards the instructor opportunities in SC.

Would you rather have not been on a sub?

What differences do you know of between your station, and that of your (commanding?) Officer?

How was bootcamp? What sort of condition were you going in vs. coming out?

How fat was that sign on bonus?

How difficult was learning nuclear topics without that background? Did you need to learn the theory of it, or was it more "push this button when this happens, or pull the rods out if we need more powah"

Norzeforce9 karma

Also, the instructor jobs in Charleston are some of the cushiest jobs in the Navy. If you take it, the enlisted will talk mad shit about you but you will be getting a fat paycheck to teach for a few hours a day and all those nice benefits.

On a seperate note the official designator for that job when I was going through the school was DILDO (Dedicated Instructor Limited Duty Officer I think?) Anyone know if that is still the name for them? lol

Norzeforce6 karma

Excellent questions. Wish you the best in whatever you decide.

  1. Being a submariner was the greatest thing I have ever done for myself. Not being in the navy or being a nuke, but being a submariner. Greatest decision I ever made. And I didnt chose to be on one until two weeks before my orders were decided.

  2. One of the best parts about being a submariners was that the distinction between officer and enlisted are blurred. I still respected my officer's (juniors officers and senior officers) but I interacted with them every day for 8 hours a day. And being a nuke, you are taught to have a questioning attitude to EVERYONE. I told my CO when he was wrong and leading us down a bad path, I have cursed out a JO for trying to pull rank on a submarine. And I have sat a table as an E-4 with the CO and had a drink and talked sports. That stuff only happens on subs. Never on a surface ship.

  3. Bootcamp was easy. I have always been respectful and was raised well so my hardest part was not saying Yes, sir to the enlisted. Instead having to say Yes petty officer or yes chief. Physically I was in good shape when I hsowed up and passed no problem. I got fat after boot camp and the rest of my time in the physical stuff was a struggle.

15k signing bonus but two weeks before I signed it was 20k.

A School and Power School are ALL theory. Not a single practical thing is taught. Just theory. Protoype is when you start learning button pushes and procedures.

modularpeak25523 karma

what was the largest upside of living on a submarine vs living on a ship? i don't mean working just what life is like

Norzeforce5 karma

The community for sure. Officers were friends and I knew most people outside of work.

colomijax22713 karma

as a sub guy did you ever work with the P-3c orion aircraft in any way? such as them tracking your sub .

Norzeforce6 karma

We would do war games with surface ships and have to helicopters and P3 track us. The P-3 are good at what they do. So are the choppers. We came up to periscope depth on time to look around and they were doing circles a hundred feet above us just staring us down haha.

jo6983 karma

What were secret missions like? An example maybe

Norzeforce11 karma


Just kidding but I cannot discuss any specifics. Missions were mostly boring except for people involved in collecting intelligence. I was not one of those people.

jo6983 karma

How do you collect intelligence when you're inside submarine? Analysing the surroundings? Or is there more

Norzeforce9 karma

We have tools that are very sensitive to noise so we can obtain sound signatures of our surrounding and use that with information gathered from other parts of the military to know that "this boat left port at this time, we just found this unique sound signature near its port, therefore enemy vessel X has this sound signature" Then in the future we can track this vessel and no that it is specifically this enemy vessel.

todayIact3 karma

Do you glow in the dark?

Norzeforce5 karma

That’s a negative Batman.

eagles7fan3 karma

Why were you honorably discharged?

Norzeforce12 karma

My contract was over and I did not reenlist.

Android_Monkey3 karma

I'm currently training to be an ET subvol, any words of advice to facilitate a happier future?

Norzeforce6 karma

Where are you at in the pipeline?

General advice:

Qualify fast on the boat and get your fish fast

Try not to fall behind in the pipeline because more hours means less mental health.

If a maintenance is happening that you havent dont before, go watch it and ask questions and try to help, dont leave because your not qualified to do the maintenance.

BooYeah04842 karma

What class of subs did you serve on and thoughts on each one? What did you like and dislike about each class? Which class would you prefer to be on?

Norzeforce4 karma

I was on a Los Angeles Class. It’s the only one I was on. I liked that we pulled into foreign ports unlike Boomers.

BooYeah04841 karma

Did you ever go on an Ohio, Seawolf, or Virginia class though just to see it?

Norzeforce5 karma

My civilian has me work on Virginia classes all the time. They are pretty similar. Enough so that I can look at a piece of equipment and know what it does.

Duke_Paul2 karma

Hey man! Thank you for your service, and thanks for doing an AMA.

What would your take be on women serving on subs? Do you feel that there is any merit to the stigma attached to Nukes or subbies (because, let's face it, you guys are weird)? What kind of qualifications did you get in school (post-boot-camp school)? Finally, what kind of career options are there for nukes when you get out?

Thanks again!

Norzeforce6 karma

I think the only problem for women on a fast attack sub is logistics. I replied in another comment about the small quantity of bathrooms and cramped space. I think sailors on subs and surface ships are generally professional enough to not get rapey or weird with a shipmate. But logistically, I dont know how to have women share a bathroom with men without it getting weird. Logistics are the only issue I think the Navy has with it.

I didnt get any official qualification or certification but being a nuke that is honarably discharged gurantees a couple things: we learn very fast. have questioning attitudes, and can follow a damn procedure. These along with other qualifications like watches you stood and collateral duties make us very hireable.

Nukes have security clearances so that makes a DoD job easy, their are civilian reactor plants that hire, as well as contractors just to name a few. I had a job three weeks after I started looking.

lanismycousin2 karma

Do you like fried chicken?

Norzeforce5 karma

Yea its good. I grew up in Kentucky so I guess I kinda have to like it.

lanismycousin1 karma

Have you ever had fried horse?

Norzeforce3 karma

That’s a negative Batman.

dust_wind-4 karma

How do you feel about all the bullshit forced patriotism and "support the troops" nonsense?

Norzeforce12 karma

Your question is phrased in a pretty combative manner but I will give you my honest and probably unpopular opinion.

People sign up for the military willingly. We are paid, housed, fed, and have complete insurance. I was compensated well since I got a nuke bonus, a sub bonus, and sea pay as well as my housing allowance and food allowance. We are not martyrs that sign up and get nothing in return.

I also think that some veterans are real fucking heros. I, and most submariners, never saw a single enemy combatant face to face. We certainly never had a torpedo shot at us and except in extreme circumstance probably never felt our lives were in danger. Other parts of the military have and those people deserve respect and admiration. When people ask veterans to stand at ball games and what not, I usually dont because I dont deserve to be on the same pedestal as those people. So in my opinion not all veterans are the same.

But I also spent 15 months underwater away from internet, video games, and home so it sucks for all of us.