SAN DIEGO - A group of 18 college students from around the country who are interested in the Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate (NUPOC) program visited the guided missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) in San Diego, Jan. 15.
The students have all shown interest in the Navy, but have not yet committed, and most had never stepped on board a warship before.
As part of the program, each prospective candidate goes on a short visit designed to show them what life would be like as a naval officer on a surface vessel. A similar visit gives them a taste of life on a submarine. The tours are one of the first steps in a rigorous application process for the NUPOC program.
Once accepted into the NUPOC program, there are four avenues for candidates to choose from: naval reactors, nuclear power school instructor, submarine, and surface. If the candidate chooses to join the surface nuclear community, he or she will first complete a standard surface warfare officer first tour before going to nuclear power school.
Escorted by Lt. Matt Snyder from the Navy Recruiting Command, the students traveled from universities across the country to Naval Base San Diego in order to see the ship.
“Touring USS Russell allows the nuclear propulsion officer candidate applicants an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the lifestyle they are looking to join,” said Snyder. “These tours are critical to the Navy Recruiting Command, ensuring we are able to meet fleet manning requirements.”
The first stop was the quarterdeck, where first tour division officers stand the majority of their in-port watches. The students learned the basic responsibilities of the “In-Port Officer of the Deck” position. The students later visited the Combat Information Center (CIC), where division officers stand watch as “CIC Watch Officer.” The students went up to the pilot house to learn about navigation and standing watch as “Officer of the Deck Underway.”
The tour continued to topside spaces, the galley, crew mess decks, medical facilities, a repair locker, and the ship’s store. To further prepare the students for their potential lifestyle aboard a warship, the tour route even included officers’ staterooms. The final stop was the wardroom, where all the ship’s officers eat and hold meetings. There the students were given a brief description of expected etiquette and naval tradition.
The ship’s fire control officer, public affairs officer, auxiliary officer, and first lieutenant gave accounts of ship life to the students in wardroom, followed by a question and answer session. The primary focus of the students’ questions concerned the NUPOC application process, which involves interviewing with personnel at naval reactors and the Director of Navy Nuclear Propulsion. Students also inquired about the officer candidate school commissioning process.
“It was a pleasure for Russell to be able to host such a promising group of future leaders,” said Cmdr. James Harney, Russell’s commanding officer. “I’m thrilled that they were able to see the great work our young officers are doing on this ship.”
Russell is assigned as part of Destroyer Squadron One. The ship and crew are currently in the basic training phase as they prepare for a future deployment.