Supply Corps Duty … The Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program

     The Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program offers a unique opportunity for Supply Corps officers to serve in a joint Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Navy (DON) billet.

     The billets offered at Naval Reactors Headquarters in Washington D.C. demand the best individuals the Supply Corps has to offer.

The Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program

     Nuclear-powered ships — SSNs, SSBNs, SSGNs and CVNs — comprise about 45 percent of the Navy’s major combatant ships.  This makes the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program an integral and extremely important part of the Navy.  The program, which also is part of the Department of Energy, is led by a four-star admiral and referred to as Naval Reactors (NR).  NR has a “cradle-to-grave” responsibility by public law for naval reactor plants, including, Research, design, development and construction; Refueling, overhaul, maintenance and disposal; Reactor safety; Oversight of procurement, logistics and fiscal management; Supervision of supply support; and concurrence in selection of Naval Reactors personnel.

     The program has a long and unparalleled history of success, and is widely respected in both government and industry as a top notch, well-disciplined operation.  As such, NR only selects the most capable Supply Corps officers for duty in the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.

Supply Corps Officer Opportunity

     Assignment to a challenging and dynamic, five-year tour in the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program offers a unique career enhancing opportunity for a select group of Supply Corps officers.  The Supply Corps officers assigned to NR fill key headquarters, or field billets, in one or more of the following areas:

     Financial Management.  NR Supply Corps officers are responsible for long range planning and formulation of budgets for reactor plant research and development, ship construction, replacement components, refueling cores, ship alterations, fleet technical support and nuclear operator training.  They participate in the Navy’s Program development process through program strategic planning and formulation of Program Objective Memoranda.  Further, they defend and obtain approval of budgets during reviews by the Navy and Energy Departments, Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Congress.  They also assure the efficient and proper obligation and expenditure of funds.

     Acquisition Contract Management.  NR Supply Corps officers are instrumental to resolving procurement policy issues, industrial base problems, and disputes involving nuclear ship and component acquisition.  They play a key role in the preparation, negotiation and administration of contracts with shipyards for construction, overhaul and engineering support of nuclear ships.  Additionally, they oversee and help administer prime contracts and subcontracts for manufacturing and supporting reactor cores, nuclear components and specialized nuclear industrial equipment.

     Systems Inventory Management.  NR Supply Corps officers set the policy for, oversee and help manage all facets of providing logistics support of reactor plants, including spare component and repair part requirements determination; equipment provisioning document development; COSAL preparation; ship outfitting; material acquisition and quality assurance; stock control; repairables management; and direct fleet assistance.  They take the lead in or play a key role in establishing and running automated systems for managing reactor plant material inventories in the Navy Supply System, ships, shipyards and land based reactor prototype sites.  They are also been instrumental in ensuring that Department of Defense (DOD) supply support policies acknowledge the unique requirements of reactor plant support.

     Physical Distribution Management.  NR Supply Corps officers oversee and manage the warehousing, distribution and transportation of reactor cores, nuclear equipment, repair parts, field change and ShipAlt kits and technical publications.

     Officers are assigned initially to NR headquarters duty in one of the above areas.  Each officer is given personal responsibility for a particular area, and their job scope typically expands at a rate the officer demonstrates he or she can handle.  It is not unusual for officers to serve in more than one of the above areas and they often work closely with senior managers on key issues.

     Tour Length.  The tour of duty in the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program is five years.  The extended tour presents the opportunity to attain a post-graduate degree from a top tier school in the Washington D.C. area, or the Naval Post Graduate School.

     Developing Potential Candidates.  NR and Supply Office of Personnel (SUP OP) carefully screen candidates serving in their initial operational tours for a follow-on tour at NR.  After initial screening, NR and SUP OP invite the best candidates to interview at NR headquarters in Washington, D.C.  The interviews are with senior NR officials, including the Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion (a four-star Admiral), who decides which officers to select.

     Career Successes.  The careers of Supply Corps officers completing tours in this program have been remarkably successful.  After five years in the program, officers have gained substantial expertise in one or more traditional Supply Corps shore functions (i.e., fiscal, procurement and/or logistics management).  They also have gained experience in dealing with senior Navy and civilian officials, formulating policy, solving complex problems, and writing crisp and articulate correspondence.  NR “graduates” who have continued in the Navy have done extremely well, making Lieutenant Commander, Commander and Captain on time.  NR and NAVSUP are committed to ensure NR graduates obtain the best follow-on tours and remain on track with their peers.  Most recently, Supply Corps officers from NR have served in the following positions:

• NAVSUP Business Systems Center Commanding Officer

• Commander, Defense Contract Management, Northern Europe

• Director, Supply Office of Personnel

• Combat Stores Ship (AFS) Supply Officer

     Applying to the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.  Supply Corps officers, lieutenant junior grade, lieutenants and lieutenant commanders, interested in serving in the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program should contact their detailer.

By Capt. Shawn Grunzke, SC, U.S. Navy; Naval Reactors