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Commercial Nuke Questions...

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I havent been around nukes since the Navy- over 12 yrs ago. I have since been working fossil fuels. Most of my experience is combined cycle and I have been CRO for the last four yrs.
I am considering getting back into the nuke world.
My request is for some of you guys to do your best comparisons and contrasts between navy and commercial nukes. I'm interested to know about the classes I'll be taking during the first few months I'm there. Am I expected to come in knowing most of what I learned way back in the navy, or is all the info presented once again and all you have to do is study and pass the tests? I'm good with tests and I know I'll learn if the info is presented in its entirety again, but I think there might be problems if I need to remember all what was taught in the navy. Its funny how out in the real world it really doesnt matter how many gpm a pump puts out- it always seems to be enough. Those darn engineers. Or, its funny how a pump head curve really doesnt mean anything- as long as you know what to expect when you manipulate different valves in the system. I have never used a pump curve since leaving the navy. In fact, I never used one after I left NNPS that I can recall.
I guess what I'm saying is that a lot of it , I intentionally forgot because it is irrellevent. About the only thing I carry with me to this day is being able to draw everything- even after 12 yrs out. I feel that that is very important.
From what I'm reading here, I get the impression that a naval reactor is a tinker toy compared to a commercial reactor. So, with that said, I'll ask a few questions....

1) Do you think NNPS was tougher than the classes you took when you started at your first commercial nuke?
2) To what level are you expected to be crosstrained? (I am heavy in operational theory and procedure, and I can hold my own with mechanical type things. I have little to no abilities as an I&C or electrician)
3) Will I ever have to stand before another man while he gives me elevator eyes and comments on my shave?
4) As long as I'm on schedule or ahead of schedule, will I ever have someone bothering me with questions as to where I stand with quals and wondering why I'm not further along?

I never had trouble at NNPS or prototype....and I really dont look forward to having any at a commercial plant either....but I have seen many guys in Navy put up with crap they really shouldnt have had to deal with.

I welcome any other comparisons or comments anyone may have as well. Thanks in advance.

The training program as a Non Licenced Operator were very similiar to prototype.  At Fermi we started out with the basic administrative classes, radcon, basic chemistry, licensing, fire brigade, confined space rescue, electrical safety, etc.  Then we did BWR General Fundamentals (  Then we got into the systems training.  Systems was fairly basic, how it works, what is the purpose, some setpoints, plant tour, some operating procedures, maybe little theory also.  Once the classroom phase was over, off to the plant to perform qualifications.  Qual card with lists of procedures, testing, system checkouts for each of the areas (Turbine, Reactor, Outside, Radwaste, Admin).  Overall it should take about a year to year and half.

You will be crosstrained as an Operator.  There really isn't a distinction between mechanical systems, electrical system, reactor systems when it comes to operating like the Navy.  As an operator you will be required to open/close valves, fill and vent systems, pull fuses, rack breakers, operate diesels, and perform all tagging.

Because the commercial nuclear power plant is so large and complex compared to the Navy Reactors, as far as operating goes, you will very seldom operate anything without another operator there to "peer check" to minimize any mistakes that you may make.  You also will never do anything with a procedure or some written instructions to do so.  There are "placekeeping" tools to help you follow the procedure correctly so that you don't miss anything.

There will be no one there to make sure that your shoes are shined and that your shirt is ironed.  You may have to keep a clean shave for Fire Brigade or for RP respirators. 

Your combined cycle experience should help you adjust also.  As you know the steam cycle of a combined cycle is more complex than the Navy.  The commercial world has more complex steam cycles to maximize efficency also.

You will have someone there to make sure your qual progress is progressing.  Keep in mind that many of your pay raises may be based on getting qualified. 

I definitely appreciate the reply.
In reality, the move would be a no brainer for me, since moving back home is the main reason for me possibly making this switch back to nuclear. Additionally, my earning potential will be a lot higher given a couple yrs in a nuke plant. So its a win win. I also see the nuke industry booming in a few yrs.
But the reality still remains that I have it pretty easy where I am now. Good money, and ZERO headaches.
I am not afraid of the challenge- I welcome it in fact. I just dont like being hounded- especially when I'm doing my job. Make sense?
I can kinda already see that there is lots of competition in the nuke industry. Everyone wants to qualify the fastest so they look the best. I'm really not interested in that kinda thing because it breeds contempt and angers people. I think this aspect will be what I wont like the most.
I am grateful for the experience I got in the navy, but the reality is that the navy pissed me off a lot more than it satisfied me. Leadership is earned- not worn on your sleeve. I am hoping that making this move will not be like joining the navy all over again. I have gotten used to working with REAL people.
One thing I do miss about the navy though, is that I never had doubts as to my reliefs abilities and knowledge.

I guess there are a lot of positives and negatives to switching back to nuclear.....hopefully, I'll get a lot more input from the people on here.

Already Gone:
The competition to qualify at anything out here in the world is not the same as it was in the Navy.  When you are still in training, that is your job.  You won't be handed a qual card and told to "get hot".  You won't be cleaning bilges or painting the plant either.  Qualifying will not be your highest priority; it will be your only priority.  Basically, you will qualify at the same rate as all the others in your class.
I suppose the reason for the big difference is that -- although you will be trained by plant operators while in the plant -- the training department exists as a separate entity from the operations department.  Your training will be administered by a group of people who are paid to train you.  It is their job, not a collateral duty.

You see the difference?  On a ship, you were assigned to a division that had lots of things to do.  You all had to stand the watches, do the maintenance, clean the place, and train each other.  On land, each of these jobs is done by a separate organization.

Thanks once again.
I like the way you put things and it makes me more comfortable with the way things work in the commercial world. People in general, can be bastards...fortunately for me, I work with a lot of great people right now and would hate to leave what I have only to be miserable working around people who are only looking out for themselves.

Hopefully, others will add their two cents to the topic.


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