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Offline badger

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Anyone ever done a refueling?
« on: Apr 23, 2005, 10:44 »
Im an almost qualified EM3 at S8G that just got his orders. What are those orders, you ask? Why, I am to report to the USS Carl Vinson in Newport News right after it gets back from its world tour. Once its back, it will be refueled. As I'm inexperienced in this, I have very little clue what I'll be doing in my day to day life. I understand the basics of how a refueling works; however, I don't know what part I will play in this daily drama. I've heard rumors that I will be sent home early every day and do almost no work. Will the next 3 years of my life really be like that?

Any help would be appreciated.

Edit: Anyone have any comments on how myself or my girlfriend will like the Newport News area as well as carrier life? I've been expecting a west coast sub but... needs of the Navy. Ah well!
« Last Edit: Apr 23, 2005, 10:45 by badger »

taterhead

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Re: Anyone ever done a refueling?
« Reply #1 on: Apr 23, 2005, 11:52 »
I did a Precom at NN, so I am moderately qualified to answer this.

Overall, I enjoyed the area.  However, there are some things you need to know.

First of  all, the area surrounding the shipyard is rough.  You won't want to live near there.  I lived in Williamsburg, and recommend it to anyone.  Nice little college town, great atmosphere, tons of restaurants, several quality bars, etc.  30 minutes to the shipyard.  York County isn't bad.  Parts of Hampton and upper Newport News are ok.  Just remember, the farther north you live, the nicer stuff will be.  However, you will be farther from work...it's a trade off-

I wouldn't recommend the Southside (Norfolk/VA Beach).  The tunnels can be a real headache.

As for what to expect?  Intense overhauling.  Massive tagouts.  Lots of civilians and NRRO hanging around.  In addition to the refuel, there will be many system alts done.  In a word, the plants will be a wreck.  Expect shift work at times.  Long hours somedays. Extra shutdown and fire watches.  The ship will basically become uninhabitable (no services).  The testing following the refueling will be especially intense.  Qualifying will be interesting.  Everyone will lose proficiency in their steaming quals, and won't regain proficiecy until testing time.  As for going home early everyday...I wouldn't count on it.  I am not saying that there won't be down days, I am sure there will be.  But certifying a new plant is no picnic.  The first part of the overhaul may be light, but after the fuel goes in, the fun begins.

On the other hand, you will (eventually) get to go home at night, and your schedule is pretty much set for about 3-4 years.  No deployments, etc.  No matter what happens in the world, you will know your ship is stuck in port.

As for liking carrier life....you won't get to really experience it until the refuel is done. 

I hope to make it back to that area next summer (2006) to Precom the next carrier. 

Take it easy.

Taylor  (MMC)
« Last Edit: Apr 24, 2005, 03:48 by taterhead »

joncashk

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Re: Anyone ever done a refueling?
« Reply #2 on: Apr 24, 2005, 07:58 »
Good job on getting the Vinson, only had 2 guys get it down here, 1 EM and 1 ET (I'm class 0405 as well).  I talked to the EM that got it and he said that he was told you will more than likely be chipping paint for a while.  I don't see the need in getting you qualified to stand SEO or SRO when the reactor won't be there.  How many of you guys got sent to the Enterprise, like 20 of us did.

Offline badger

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Re: Anyone ever done a refueling?
« Reply #3 on: Apr 26, 2005, 04:50 »
Thanks for the info, MMC. When you say "long hours".. what are you comparing them to? Right now for me, long hours means 14+ hours. I cringe at the thought of that.


Joncashk: To the best of my knowledge, only 2 of us are being sent there (myself and another EM3)

So far, the only people to get orders have all been for carriers. No one has gotten the prize yet. Unfortunutely, almost everyone that has gotten a carrier so far has been a sub volunteer.

Offline tonynuke

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Re: Anyone ever done a refueling?
« Reply #4 on: Apr 26, 2005, 08:12 »
I was part of a refueling overhaul on the Nimitz about 5 or 6 years ago.  Early overhaul isnt bad, in true navy form, as soon as it begins, the concentration is on training up for the eventual RSE (Reactor Safeguards Exam), which you will have upon completion of refueling.  The days are a little shorter early on, and the duty days are farther apart, since the shipyard personell are basically running the show.  After refueling is complete, along with all the other maintenance, equipment replacement, and other chaos that goes on, all of it must be tested.  This is the "fun" part that will put you on rotating shiftwork for what seems like forever (maybe 8 or 9 months in our case).  It really never slows down after this begins, because one everything is tested and you have proved you can steam again, you go to sea trials, and prove it over, and over, and over. 
My advice, work hard, qualify early (which is harder in a shipyard environment), and have fun when you can.  (Dang, I sound like all of those who tried to give me advice in the early days).   
Good luck,
Tony

By the way long hours in my case were maybe 10 in the shipyard.  At sea, you are 24/7. 

shayne

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Re: Anyone ever done a refueling?
« Reply #5 on: Apr 26, 2005, 08:16 »
Our long days while in the shipyard on the California for a 3 month SRA was only 10 hours.  1 hour turnover, 8 hour shift, and 1 hour of nuclear training.  3 shifts, 7 days a week.  no days off.

s_Phoenix

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Re: Anyone ever done a refueling?
« Reply #6 on: Jun 19, 2005, 09:22 »
Living in Portsmouth makes it realy easy to get to NN.  And not to far a trip to the beach.  If you want to party a lot live down at Va Beach.  Makes for a longer trip to work, but a shorter stumbl home at night.

Offline roadhp

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Re: Anyone ever done a refueling?
« Reply #7 on: Jun 19, 2005, 11:23 »
    Don't know how they will do it this time.  Did the Enterprise refueling in 90 - 93.  That one was rough for everyone, with 4 section shift work for most of the people, and 5 section duty for the rest.  Our spaces were torn apart, so they moved us to some storage spaces on the 4th deck aft, which had no ventilation (we even had to evaquate a couple of times for low oxygen).  The shipyard will try their best to get ahead, and will try to walk over the ship's company, and the ship will be dirtier than you will ever believe because of the grinding dust, paint chipping, and eventually sand blasting.  The Carl Vinson is a much better ship because it is more simplistic (2 instead of 8).  I did a West Pac on her, and liked it, but if you are short handed, the hours at sea will be hard, because you will be doing your watches, then your maintenance, then your drills, then the ships drills.  When I was at sea, nobody got to sleep in after a night watch, no matter what, so at times I would get only an hour sleep.  But at times I could get as much sleep as I wanted, especially in port.
    Like Taterhead said, the farther you go from the shipyard, the better.  I lived in Newport News close to J. Clyde Morris, and that was a good area.  Good luck with the refuel.
                                                                                       Bill (former MM1/ELT/PPWS)
Brave, brave Sir Robin, set forth from Camelot!!!!

_ELT_

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Re: Anyone ever done a refueling?
« Reply #8 on: Sep 20, 2005, 09:44 »
JUST finished one.  The Eisenhower left RCOH about six months ago...I got there a year after the RCOH started.  NOT COOL.  I would never EVER go through another RCOH - and I'm an ELT!  There are a million civilians running the show - so the navy really can't have your back on any subject - if you screw up - even a little bit - you end up answering to the man...be that a civilian or the CO.  As mentioned earlier - nobody has the ability to qualify anything worth while for the first few years - as the fuel is out - and you're probably going to end up qualifying and standing such watches as CPAW - ELT's tend to not stand this watch as there is SO MUCH other radcon going on.  After about two years of re-habing ALL the spaces on the ship (ie: needlegunning paint, painting decks, bulkheads, etc..to tiling floors, moving furniture and supplies on and off the ship all day).  I'm not going to give you the recruiter's version - RCOH sucks - bad.  After the two years of qualifying as a janitor/painter/tiler/lagger, you jump through your you-know-what to qualify everything as fast as possible-while increasing your level of knowledge to that of someone who knows how to run a steaming plant.  Then comes the REAL fun - if you do not qualify on time - or with the curve - and at the knowledge level expected by NRRO (the civilians), you go on plus hours - up to plus fours and Saturday work days.  On a good day, you're outta there by noon or one in the afternoon.  On a bad day you'll be there until seven or eight at night...it fluctuates quite rapidly.  You'll be in everything from 3 to 5 section duty (where you have to stay the night on the boat once every three days to once every five days)...Reactor Dept. during the Eisenhower's RCOH saw Port and Starboard (every other day duty) during such times as testing and Christmas standdown.  You will not find ONE person coming out of an RCOH who will say it was even "okay."  It wasn't...I'm looking forward to more sea time.

On top of that, Hampton Roads is ugly.  Depending on where you're from, it will take some getting used to.  If you compare it to the five or six murders a month on King Street in Charleston, you're in for a shocker.  In any of the "seven cities" of Hampton Roads, you'll see between 5 and 10 murders a week.  There's over a million and a half people living in this one area - and not all of them are even close to civil.  I've lived in Va. Beach and Hampton - and they're equally as ghetto.  The tunnel traffic is horrendous.  Rent for an apartment not completely crime ridden will consume your entire BAH. 

It's gonna suck dude, I'm sorry you got these orders.  I wouldn't do it again for anything.  Be prepared for a lot of disappointment in the navy and a lot of hard times.  Make sure your spouse knows you won't see much of them after the first year...

It does get better.  I'm doing port and starboard duty right now, in fact... >:(

Offline badger

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Re: Anyone ever done a refueling?
« Reply #9 on: Nov 20, 2005, 09:53 »
Well, some time later after the original post I'm on the Vinson and in the shipyards. I've qualified reactor mechanical shutdown watch and almost done with log recorder (yes, EMs stand RMSW here)

I have another question for you fine gentlemen/ladies:
Since I will probably have very little operational experience and may not qualify many (if any) steaming watches, will being on the Navy-end of an RCOH significantly help me get a job in a nuclear-field maintenance/production environment?

I'm working on the TESC degree, on a side note.

subsailor

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Re: Anyone ever done a refueling?
« Reply #10 on: Jan 08, 2006, 03:17 »
I did precom in Newport News (submarine), and am doing a refueling now in Pearl (again, submarine).  Can't say much about the carrier perspective (someone mentioned 4/5 section duty as a bad thing, on subs that is a good deal), but I can say I hated the Newport News area (and Virginia) with a passion.  The people are the snottiest in the nation ("Southern hospitality" ends at the VA border), the weather sucks, the base in Norfolk is a hole, the area around Newport News is a dumpy getto.  Not trying to scare you, but in terms of location it was the crappiest tour I've had in the Navy (though I was on a great boat).  I'm from the South, and frankly thought Virginians were the most arrogant, holier-than-thou people in the south.

As to shipyard life...it's tough at times, especially for an existing ship getting worked.  The transition to shipyard operations is the hardest part for any crew...the change from owning the boat and having control of pretty much everything to turning over stuff to the yard and being under MCT controls...it's an entirely different mindset.  I've been on the other side, too...two tours at a shipyard.  There will be periods of shiftwork/long hours, periods of relatively low workload, LOTS of training.  The ship will be torn to pieces, dirty, loud, hot, dangerous. 

But you will see and learn things you never have the opportunity to see otherwise.  You'll come out being a very heavy toad.

It's a challenge.  It's some hard work.  It's not glamourous, it's not gonna get you a Battle 'E', but it's not all bad.  I rather enjoyed new constuction, despite the sometimes long hours and shiftwork.

pedro

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Re: Anyone ever done a refueling?
« Reply #11 on: Jan 15, 2006, 12:32 »
Well, some time later after the original post I'm on the Vinson and in the shipyards. I've qualified reactor mechanical shutdown watch and almost done with log recorder (yes, EMs stand RMSW here)

I have another question for you fine gentlemen/ladies:
Since I will probably have very little operational experience and may not qualify many (if any) steaming watches, will being on the Navy-end of an RCOH significantly help me get a job in a nuclear-field maintenance/production environment?

I'm working on the TESC degree, on a side note.

Dont worry about the steaming experience, you get some. Everyone on the vinson (senior in rate or not) will be going back out to sea (a couple of weeks to months, sho knows.) So you are probably going to become very familiar with the Ike. Also, a steaming watchbill is in the works as we speak for the end of 2007, so if you just got to ship then you will definetly be around for that plus plenty more.

bobsteve

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Re: Anyone ever done a refueling?
« Reply #12 on: Mar 16, 2006, 07:35 »
I did RCOH on both the Nimitz and the Ike (part of each).  IF you get there early in the yard period, get qualified ASAP it will make things much better for you later in the yard time when things get crapy.  Both rotating and lockshift are the norm towards the end.  Just remember, life is much better after you leave the yards and ya, RSE sucks.  Faster you qualify the better things get.  At the very least, qualify PE fast, that way you can avoid getting stuck on Log Recorder forever.

 


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