Nuke Recruiting:
NUPOC Offers Students Exciting 
Career Incentives

by LT Thomas H. Shugart III, USN

Prospects Underway

Prospective NUPOCs underway on USS Florida (SSBN-728)

It's another beautiful summer morning in San Diego, and seven college students are preparing to get underway in USS Florida (SSBN-728) for an exciting day of submarining. Anyone serving on a submarine recently has probably seen these groups of wide-eyed college students onboard, shepherded around by several recruiters, and you may have wondered, "Who are these people? Why are they here?" Well, as a result of their superior academic achievements in various engineering and scientific disciplines, these students have qualified as prospective applicants for the Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate (NUPOC) program, and they're onboard to check us out.

Quite simply, the NUPOC program draws from the best and brightest of our engineering and science schools, pays students handsomely for committing to five years in the nuclear Navy, and then sends them through Officer Candidate School (OCS) into the nuclear pipeline to join their peers from the Naval Academy and Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC).
The program was established initially to recruit talented individuals with a strong technical background to man the Navy's rapidly growing Nuclear Propulsion Program, while providing them with the financial means to complete their studies in preparation for entering the nuclear Navy's demanding training pipeline. Over the years, the NUPOC program has provided approximately one third of the officers manning the Navy's nuclear-powered ships - over 3,000 since 1986. Without these men and women, and drawing only on traditional commissioning sources, the Navy would not have been able to man many nuclear billets aboard surface ships and submarines.

Most corporations recruit engineers and scientists with "plant visits," and the nuclear Navy is no different. Especially since nuclear propulsion officers are committed to the service for five years after commissioning, it is important that these candidates know what to expect in the submarine environment before reporting to their first boat. In addition, the ship visit may be a strong motivator for applicants who fear the drudgery that some civilian engineering jobs entail.
The lieutenants who accompany the students are Nuclear Trained Officers (NTOs) assigned to Navy Recruiting Command (NRC). The ten NTOs nationwide are post-JO sea-duty submarine and nuclear-trained surface warfare officers who recruit specifically for the NUPOC, Naval Reactors Engineer, and Nuclear Power School Instructor programs. They are responsible for planning applicant trips, preparing
candidates for Naval Reactors interviews, and liaison with NRC headquarters.

NUPOC Pie Chart

NUPOC provided nearly one third of nuclear-trained officers in FY 00.

The NUPOC program provides numerous benefits to successful applicants. Upon accession, the applicant receives a $12,000 bonus - $10,000 on signing, and an additional $2,000 on completion of nuclear training - and is enlisted into the Navy as an active-duty E-6 in the Naval Reserve. As such, he or she is now entitled to full active-duty pay and benefits and will accrue time in service and leave time while completing school, for up to two and one-half years. The member's only responsibilities until graduation are to meet monthly with his or her recruiter, pass the Navy Physical Readiness Test every six months, maintain satisfactory grades, and graduate on time.

Thanks to increased numbers of NTOs, support from the fleet, and greater emphasis within the NRC, the NUPOC program has succeeded in reaching its submarine and surface warfare officer recruiting goals in the face of one of the strongest economies and toughest recruiting environments in recent memory. This will result directly in improved quality of life for all future submarine junior officers, as the personnel shortages of the past are eliminated.
The program is vital to the future of the Submarine Force. It provides a substantial portion of the officers entering the nuclear training pipeline and supports the fleet by providing quality replacements for junior officers on sea duty. At the same time, the Recruiting Command's NTOs need the Fleet's continuing support to provide prospective NUPOCs a good look at what their Navy career would be like. Any of those wide-eyed, awe-struck students you've seen touring a submarine or surface ship could be the next O'Kane, Morton, or Ramage!

If you are a Nuclear-Trained junior officer interested in being a Regional NTO or NRD Officer Recruiter, contact your detailer.

LT Shugart is an NTO assigned to Navy Recruiting Region West, Oakland, California.

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