Note: NF is not an actual rating, but rather a specialized enlistment program.
The Navy’s Nuclear Field (NF) program offers extensive training as nuclear propulsion plant operators and technicians to young men and women with aptitude in mathematics and science. The standards for selection for enlistment in the Navy’s NF program are high. People applying for NF training must be dedicated to pursuing the challenge this highly technical field offers. Applicants should be mature, responsible, and capable of working well under pressure.
NF candidates must be U.S. citizens. Candidates must also not have reached their 25th birthday by the time they enter active duty (ship out to basic training). However, age-waivers will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Applicants must be a high school diploma graduate (not GED) with successful completion of one year of Algebra, and able to meet Secret security clearance requirements.
Active duty obligation is six years. Applicants must enlist for four years and concurrently execute an agreement to extend their enlistment for 24 months to accommodate the additional training involved.
Personnel selected for nuclear training enter the Navy in paygrade E-3. Accelerated advancement to paygrade E-4 is authorized after personnel complete all advancement-in-rate requirements (to include minimum time in rate) and “A” School, provided eligibility in the NF Program is maintained.
Enlistment and reenlistment bonuses in addition to Navy salary, special duty assignment pay, and allowances for food and housing are available. Those who volunteer and are selected to serve on nuclear submarines (men only) are eligible for added submarine duty incentive pay from the day they graduate from nuclear training.
Three Navy job specialties, called “ratings”, are included in the NF community: Machinist’s Mate (MM), Electrician’s Mate (EM), and Electronics Technician (ET). The rating in which a NF candidate is trained is determined at the Recruit Training Center (boot camp).
Nuclear-trained MMs, EMs and ETs perform duties in nuclear propulsion plants operating reactor control, propulsion and power generation systems. The character of NF jobs is mentally stimulating and offers career growth. The NF provides opportunities to work closely with specialists in the nuclear, technology, and engineering fields.
The educational opportunities available to the nuclear-trained Sailor range from college-level classes in physics, chemistry, mathematics, electrical engineering and thermodynamics to nuclear engineering training in nuclear power plant design, construction, instrumentation and operations. The American Council on Education (ACE) has verified the extensive nature and unsurpassed quality of the Navy’s nuclear propulsion training program by recommending up to 77 semester hours of college credit.
After recruit training, NF candidates report to the NF “A” School in Charleston, SC for technical training in their specific ratings. They then attend Nuclear Power School (NPS) in Charleston, SC, where they learn theory and practical application of nuclear physics and reactor engineering. Following NPS, candidates begin prototype training in their rating specialty at one of two Nuclear Power Training Units (NPTUs). After nuclear power training, NF Sailors are designated nuclear propulsion plant operators. They may be assigned to modern nuclear powered aircraft carriers or volunteer for submarine service (men only).