JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
The stresses on students can be challenging at times. The amount of homework, study material, memorization and testing can be quite a handful.
While this is the case for most students at all education levels, it is especially true for students of the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command at the Joint Base Charleston Naval Weapons Station, S.C.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Rylee Schaefer, NNPTC electrical technician graduate, said, "The average day for a student here is pretty much the same all around. You get up at around 5 a.m. and are in the classroom by six a.m. Most of us will study before class actually starts and stay in class until lunch. During that time, most of us try to go to a pool table to play a game. Afterwards, we are back in class until four-thirty p.m. Once we get out, most of us will study until it's time to go to bed. Or if you're someone like me, you'll study a bit more often. Most of the time people will be studying for their next two tests one to stay caught up."
This school houses the training for three career fields: electrical technician, electricians mates and machinist mates. Each one is of vital importance ensuring the Navy's nuclear-powered vessels run properly.
Master Chief Petty Officer Ronald Nagy, NNPTC command chief, said, "Each school has two parts; A-School and Power School; each lasting about six months. On top of that, they also receive six months of on the job training. So it is almost two years into their service before these Sailors even see the fleet. Each job is vitally important. The EM's own all the associate equipment needed to generate the electricity and to move it throughout the ship. The MM's own all the equipment that moves the steam and the turbines and everything that moves the propulsion and electricity in the ship. ET's ensure they have tools to monitor the MM's systems so everything is running safely and within bounds. Without these guys, forty four percent of our fleet's combat vessels wouldn't be functional."
At any given time, the Navy's nuclear power "nuke" school has 2,200 to 2,300 students. With so many Sailors having so much on their plates, they need things to help them relax and unwind.
Schaefer said, "Being in a new place and experiencing so much around you, you're going to want to take advantage of the area. You want to go out and see Charleston, go to the beaches, go camping and volunteering. We have stressful, long hours, so finding ways to get your mind off of all the workload, even for a minute, is truly important to keep your head on straight."
Prior to coming to the Charleston area, the NNPTC was located in Orlando, Fl.
"NNPTC moved here to Charleston in 1998," Nagy said, "At the time, I was an instructor at NNPTC and the move was one of the most complex evolutions I had ever experienced. The NNPTC does its best to ensure it doesn't waste any time or money. So we never stopped the training during the transition. One week from Monday to Friday I taught at Naval Training Center Orlando, Fl. After work Friday, my wife and I drove all the way up to Charleston and I taught class there on the following Monday."
To get these Sailors from one point to another is no small task but the people at NNPTC do it both quickly and efficiently. Master Chief Petty Officer Paul Karrow, NNPTC indoctrination coordinator, is a big part of how the process works.
"First, we start out by receiving the Sailors. Then we establish their profiles and educate them on standards and characteristics of training here at the NNPTC," Karrow said, "All in all, it takes about 24 hours to get them from basic training to being fully integrated into NNPTC."
The senior leadership at the NNPTC does all they can to ensure that their Sailors are successful.
Nagy said, "One of our biggest responsibilities is removing what obstacles we can for students. We want then to learn their job as well as what it means to be a Sailor. We offer mentoring and opportunities to help the community. It truly is a privilege to do this, because we get to work with some of the best people America has to offer."
Sailors attending the NNPTC have a rigorous academic program to complete in a limited time frame. Successfully completing the course demonstrates how dedicated and hard-working these Sailors are.
"Serving here is a great opportunity to pay back to the program that has given me and so many others a unique lifestyle and for the Sailors of tomorrow. We should never lose sight of that. It's definitely worth all the effort to get to this point." Karrow said.