Letters, Random Memories and Assorted Sea Stories (Cont.)

Another Quiz!

Since my last two quizzes were nailed in a matter of hours, here's one that will require a bit more thought. The winner gets a free backstage pass to the next P'Mooj gig.  

What was the biggest "load" on the Big E? (By this I mean it consumed the most electrical power.)

If you're a former Load Toad, then you must list the top five "big loads" for the prize. (Wasn't this a final board question, anyway?)



Mark Takes a Stab ...

I will take a stab at the electrical question.

How about any bank of Warm-up heaters?

How about load center 510 where all the top side loads (radars etc) got their juice?



KP Note: You're close.  The w/u hts were one of the biggest loads on the ship (certainly the biggest in plant) but not largest overall. (Remember how the SRO had to call LD before he could energize heater banks?).  LC510 was the most important LC; however, all you really had to do was worry about the 'bus' it was on.  That was a guaranteed board question from Rocky Spane, as it was the only bus and LC he cared about.  

For this quiz think "big friggen motor" that pulls something very heavy.  Also, recall big things that move up and down to move planes from HB to FD.


Arrgh Shows His Limited Airdale Knowledge ...

Kp, you rock!!!

The "tail codes" have nothing to do with port calls, "hostesses" or whores... they are the letters on the tails of the aircraft designating, well, something. Ok, I'm no airdale, but that's what they are, anyways. What a rock!


ps - thanks to the Ike dude that calls certain of us his heroes. By the way, all the stories are true, but as a man with certain discretion now, and some manner of personal pride, and since I like KP, there are some of the best stories that will never be put to the written arts. Remember....


I'd hate having to explain... HA! Thought I was going to spill it, eh? Not so this time. Those stories are for audible transmission only, so I can claim you are lying if the Feds ever show up.


KP Note: Wow Arrrgh! I never figured you for a topside kind of guy.  Maybe you learned this bit of knowledge while working on your scale model since you certainly didn't learn it while sitting on the panel (or maybe you did).  I pursued my cruise book and, sure enough, you're right.  That tale code is painted on all the plane tails.  Hopefully one of the airdales that secretly read this site (and wish they could have been nukes) will write in and tell us the significance of the tail code. 


Todd Miller Gets New Email:

Hey, can you update my email address. It is now . I'm in the 1980's group. 


Todd Miller


Tail Code Info:


The "tail code" is the Air Wing designation. NH is CVW-11. NK is CVW-14. Air Wing designations beginning with "N" are Pacific while those beginning with "A" are Atlantic.


Harry E. Beasor Jr.



Hi Ram,

I believe those large loads were the anchor windlasses and the aircraft elevators.

Greg Boyle (RM-23 89-93)


KP Note: Correct! I forget the amps that the anchor windlass pulled but it was mucho. Them aircraft elevators were also huge loads. I think the w/u htrs came in 3rd. Hopefully one of our former Load Toad pals will verify this.   


To all my shipmates and veteran friends,  here's a salute to you (I'm holding up a bottle of Genesee Cream Ale). Best of luck to those in harm's way and may you come home safely.



Mardet, etc…..


One of my co workers is a former Marine. He recently saw the new movie "Jarhead" and came to work sporting wood as a result. We ended up exchanging good natured barbs about each others former branch of service. Here's some of the fallout:

When I was in Boot Camp in '72 we had a number of classroom sessions. One class dealt with how to deal with life at sea. One of the instructors closed the class with, "Some of you who are married may worry that your wife is going to be doing some Marine while you are at sea. Don't worry, I have a foolproof remedy. Just have your wife promise to leave a pair of dirty shoes outside your door every night. Those Marines would rather shine shoes than f**k any day."

When I got to the E in '74 there was a group of ~ 75 Marines referred to as Mardet. Their primary function seemed to be harassing the 30 or so brig rats that we would have at any given time. Occasionally they would also escort the Captain around the ship and act as bodyguards. Not sure why this was necessary on a warship.

In early '75 we sailed up into the Gulf of Oman for a few days. It must have been some sort of hot spot because Mardet mounted .50 cal machine guns in the catwalks around the flight deck. It was neat to watch the Marines practice fire the .50 cals at night. The tracers would fly out several hundred yards then hit the water and ricochet off at crazy angles. Pretty cool as long as you were on the "giving" end of the guns.

In April '75 the E took part in "Operation Frequent Wind' which ended in the evacuation of Saigon. When it was over they loaded a bunch of Marine CH-53s on our flight deck and we ferried the aircraft and crewmen to Hawaii. The Marines off these helos were combat seasoned and had hair as long as most of us squids. They laughed at our Marines with their high and tight haircuts and referred to them as "Boot camps" and " Seagoing Bellhops".

One of Mardet's duties was to clean "Admiral's Country". This was a hundred foot stretch of the 2nd deck port side passage way. It was curtained off on each end to keep out riff-raff like me. About the only time us enlisted pukes were allowed to set foot here was the three minutes after the sounding of GQ. The few times I went through here I was runnin' my ass off trying to beat Material Condition Zebra. Even so the sterile cleanliness of the area was obvious. The linoleum tiles on the floor and brass fixtures on the bulkheads were polished to a mirror finish. Mardet was pretty much the only group on the ship anal enough to do that. Say what you want about the Marines, but those were some field-dayin' motherf**kers.

These days a number of 18 and 19 year olds join the Marines knowing full well that they will spend a lot of time away from their families and in harm's way. God Bless 'em all.

Today's Veteran's Day. Greetings go out to the members, veterans and families of all branches.


Veteran's Day Wishes ...

If you haven't been thanked today, I would like to thank you for serving your country to your utmost ability and to wish you and your family a Happy Veteran's Day. Take a minute and think of those who have paid the ultimate price for what we have today and thank those who have served or continue to serve our country. God bless the USA.

Louis V.


Greetings and Correction:

Greetings --

Although I never served in the Navy, I have been a naval history buff (and interested in nuclear propulsion) since high school.

I have to correct a story that appeared on your pages.

My friend Bruce F., STS3/ss, was on the George Bancroft, and it was his boat upon which Rickover almost got his head blown off.

So the story goes, Rickover was at Mare Island on some sort of inspection trip. During the evening he decided to pay a snap visit to the Bancroft, which was in the yard for maintenance. He strode down the gangway, alarming the teen-aged topside watch, who demanded identification from the elderly, civilian-clothed gentleman. Rickover pushed passed him and was halfway down the forward hatch before the kid leveled his pistol at the Admiral's head and told him to stop or he'd shoot. Rickover stopped, and watched in bemusement as the kid called in the intruder alert over his walkie. In seconds the CO was topside, ready to tear the kid a new one -- "Don't you know who this is?" Rickover all but exploded out of the hatch, saying something to the effect of, "Don't you DARE yell at this kid -- he's the only [cork] sucker that knows what the f*** he's doing!"

As Bruce tells it, the crew did NOT enjoy their next ORSE!

So -- how 'bout some more Rickover stories, guys?

Great site -- keep up the good work.

Mike Chapman 
Bubblehead/Nuke admirer.


Re: Electrical Quiz

Hey KP, It's been 20 years or so, and the cobwebs are kinda clouding the vast storage of useless Navy trivia, but best I can remember the biggest load was the RX fill pumps. I distinctly remember those ammeters that went to 5000 - 6000 amps pegging every time a RX fill pump was lit off. 



KP Note: I don't remember the fill pumps being one of the "biggies" but I was a rock LD.  Seems to me they didn't pull too much more than the two or three charging pumps that also started during the same sequence. I don't recall having to "reserve" space on their respective busses during normal ops.  But, like I said, I was a shitty LD so maybe I was supposed to and never did.  

'84 Pack Ports ...

Hey KP, The '84 WestPac was an especially uneventful one as far as I'm concerned. 90+ days of going around in circles in the IO (Gonzo Station?). Only ports we visited were Pearl Harbor, Subic Bay, and Hong Kong (with stops in PI and Pearl on the way home). Worst part was cruising by Singapore after months at sea, and the captain (Lueschner?) saying something like "if you look off to the starboard you can see Singapore. Of course, we're not pulling in, but you can see it..." The Retention Prevention team had fun with that one. 



"Ike Dude" Remembers "The Gut"

Hello, I am "that Ike Dude" that said that Arrgghhh was his hero. I wanted to share a couple things I forgot to include in that first message.

I was told many different versions of the story of the Big E running aground. However after reading the this site, of course none of them were true. I was always told that some Admiral was helo'd out to the Big E while it was beached and fired everyone from the Captain the the watchstanders and everybody in-between. I also wanted point everyone towards here you can download the Earth in satellite images. All you do then is type in a place, such as Alameda, and it will take you there. Some places are in very high resolution. I went to all of my port visits and tried to retrace my vile drunken and disease ridden steps. OH, speaking of that. KP, my first overseas port was Naples and with that being said it was also my first foray into "the gut" that you mentioned. Other than Asian dudes with guns and one guy's ATM card being taken, it was not that bad. My memory might be skewed by the fact that a guy was selling 40oz Heinekens out of the trunk of his Benz for a dollar. The truly horrid things that happened in Naples in my time was at the castle right next to fleet landing. I guess no one told anybody about the evil venomous transvestites that hung out there. So eventually a squid wandered in there all by himself, only to be in Medical on the ship in a few hours have some things sew up.

P.S. Is the story about Arggghhh and the mental hospital on critical thinking? I think I missed it on this site if it is. They tried to do that to me once, on my very final port visit none the less. Good luck on the site and I hope to sit back and read my more great stories.

MM2 Dupler


KP Note: Some of Arrghs! best stories are on the Crit Thinking Site.  Be sure to sign on and you'll have access to these tales, along with great conversations with other ex navy nukes.

Not Just a Job But an Adventure ...


I haven't contributed in a while, so I guess I'm due. The mention of the 'retention prevention' team having fun with the fact that the Big E almost stopped in Singapore reminded me of something. Does anyone remember in the 80s the Navy recruiting people were big on that 'It's not just a job, it's an adventure' kick. They had some TV ads back then where basically you would see a ship in port in some exotic place and the rock guitar would hit a few licks and then the announcer guy would fire off something like 'port call, Perth, Australia, you and your buds enjoying the best week of your lives' or something like that. It seemed to me that the ads might have tended to (shall we say) gloss over some of the less-savory aspects of the Navy at sea/port call experience. For example, this audience is fully aware of all the effort that goes into maintaining at least some plant capacity online while the ship is at anchor. However, these ads were directed at high school kids who wouldn't know any better if someone gave them the impression that when the ship pulled into port the guys just flicked a switch and turned off the Rx and went to partyin' for a few days. So with this in mind, myself and some RE Div buds imagined what one of these ads would look like if they specifically attempted to recruit nukes. Picture a view from over the watch officer's shoulder of the Rx Operator. But remember this ad is not trying to hype how uber-technical the whole Navy job thing is but rather to sell how great the port calls are. So instead of the RPCP you would just have basically a light switch like you'd have on the wall in your house. The RO is kicked back with his feet up. Then the camera cuts to the ship pulling into port. Then it cuts back to the RO. The watch officer would say 'Shut her down guys. Let's go have some fun'. The RO would reach up to the switch. Now we'd see the close-up of the switch. It has a label that reads 'Reactor Master Control' or something. The RO just turns the switch off and bails out of there. Next we see him on the beach livin' it up. It worked for the airdale types, so why not?

Sincerely, Joe B from Ike


KP Note: I recall seeing a SNL ad parody that showed that navy commercial but halfway through all the adventurous stuff it started to show the poor sailors scrubbing toilets, grinding decks and painting. It was pretty funny.  (I think it was on SNL. It could have been another TV show.)

Another USS California Nuke Stops in For a Visit ...

My name is Bill Webster, I was in class 8301 section 1, I was at INEL with my roommates Mark Jerrow and Charley Mahoney doing our wish lists for our duty stations. Mark had a brother who was an Elt on a sub and he was sure he would get "brother duty." Charley wanted a cruiser out of anywhere. I wanted to go to the Bay Area so I picked the Enterprise then the Carl Vinson. Mark said I was nuts and at least I should pick a cruiser. I told him it probably didn't matter. I got the California and Mark and Charley got the Enterprise. I was right. Who else went to A1W, had the Enterprise for their first choice and didn't get it? I bet they didn't even read the requests.



Wild Bill Comes Aboard ....


Great site! I have been reading the stories in here for a few weeks and it certainly stirred up old memories. I was onboard from 1981-1983 in EM22. I currently work at Newport News shipyard and am very involved with work on the Enterprise. It is much better being involved from the civilian side! Please add my info to the contact list. Bill Potocki (aka Wild Bill)



Hi KP,

This is for the boys...

I have hired many for my projects from this outfit and they have real top paying jobs for power professionals and technicians.

Jules J LaMontagne, USS Enterprise, 3 Plant, West Pac '74


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Airdale Greetings


I'm one of those airdales that secretly read your site.  I was on Big E while you were (1988 westpac).  I was assigned to VA94 (Mighty Shrikes). You've been told this by others but I'll add my bit as well. This site is awesome! I haven't laughed so hard in years.  To be honest I didn't give you nukes much thought.  We thought you guys were dorks and egg heads.  I wish I got to know you guys now.  You certainly had more fun in the navy then any of us did. 



Industrial Management Degree

Just a quick note for the nukes, I'm completing a degree online from UW Stout in Industrial Management. 1. You can do it all online 2. It's a good school - University of Wisconsin 3. 1/3 of the credits are technical emphasis A school and NPS should cover most if not all of it. 4. I also got my science credits covered by NPS Ok its not a MBA from Harvard but I think its worth looking at


Bill Webster


Eric Schmidt Comes Aboard ...

King Paul,

Beam me in. Been 12 years since I was in RL division, Eight years since I signed my non-disclosure statement and just yesterday a nightmare about a spill. 

Years 90-94. RL Div. MM1 (SW). Had to take a commission cause MMC was not in my future.



ELT Memories ...


Recognized a few names out there so far. Lot of memories when I can actually see beyond the tears of laughter.

Holy cow Mark Mchugh…last I remember you were up at BNL.

Lets see, as I read the pages. I’ll talk the ROH, not as bad as some have made it out to be, one incident comes to mind and it was at the completion of SG Chemical Cleaning. Final phase was to pump standard SG chemical laden water, agitate, and repeat. Kinda like Apply, Rinse, Repeat. Lack of supervision and collective stupidity said why are all of us here and proceeded to nominate Dave M__gan (aka Kodak because a picture is worth a thousand words and he could not shut up) to remain behind and sample. Realize, Dave was having difficult time with his Stripper-Wife.

Got a call at the house, about ten p.m. was thoroughly soused and now I have to go back to the ship because Dave was no longer at the shack but was calling results to the ship via a pay phone outside the gate. RCA wanted to charge us all UA but Dave took the grenade (several actually). Last I knew about Dave was he was unemployed and shacked up with some chick in New York..

After the ‘prise, I was an instructor at NNPS in Orlando. Female Nukes just started up so I trained a number of them. I personally corrupted over 240 Machinist mates and likely additional 600 via laboratory sessions. Beat a sexual harassment charge. Shouldn’t tell off-color jokes involving genitalia to a female student. I relate some NNPS stories but suffices to say…Damn I miss the Orlando base.

I have two years to go. Currently in Mayport on a small boy.

Schmidty (ELT 90-94, Forward goup) and CAPT Naughton didn’t flush me because of the faggot NRO rep but I shouldn’t sample the primary by myself.


RAR Fire

I read an entry from Dave Reithal (Dated 8/12/05) that needs some correction. The fire in #1 RAR was started by a guy named Dave Bockhouse. He was showing off how to "burn" acetone off deckplates when it blew up in his face and he ended up dropping a whole gallon of the stuff!!! He not only caught several bales of rags on fire but also Sam Perez and Keith Pauly!!!! They were in the RAR upper level behind some pumps (purpose to remain un named). Myself and Eric Duden were on the CTG flats when Keith came running by yelling "FIRE", well he was on fire!!! Dave ended up de-nuked and went to the Gompers. Sam is in Texas and I don't know about Keith or Eric. Incidentally, Jim Graziano cross-decked to the USS California before we made our World Cruise.


Electrical Quiz Final Answer

KP, Damn, LD trivia. I guess I should contribute on this one, though I think Scott Fullam was the best Load Toad in our days. Windlass motors were the biggest, but used so rarely you didn't worry about it. Aircraft elevator motors were used all the time and were the biggest concern. I think they drew about 3-400 amps each which we usually had room for, but if the mechanic started them too quickly, the ammeter would peg hard and give you a scare. Over sensitive EOOWs would then lecture the Aux guy to yell at his guy.

The other very common large load were the 2 big A/C units. 16 A/C was the one we cared about as it was aft. I think the other big one was #2. The rest of the A/Cs were much smaller and we didn't worry too much about them.

Heaters were a big load, but again, not used all that often and I have no recollection of how much they drew. Seems like everything else was minor. Of course, when coming off shore power, we had to be careful about separate power supplies for the RC gear.

And yes, the Captain never liked to lose power to LC510, which powered the island and his elevator. Though I seem to recall that Rocky let us run real drills rather than "simulated" drills. Fake meter faces don't do justice to an SSTG dropping off line under heavy load. It's probably all computerized now. I wonder if EMs these days know how to parallel generators and balance loads.


KP Note: I forgot about those A/C units. I'm pretty sure Scott Fullam was sitting my in shop board and asked me to name all the big loads and which LC they came off (softball question) and I missed the big A/C units and something called a "viscous" pump. I think I also missed the softball question about which LCs had the jet blast deflector water pumps on them (the ones that if power was lost to during flight ops, a bad thing would happen).

Parallel Generators

As Rob says above, I wonder if today's electrical system is more computerized on the ship.  Do they have computers parallel buses and generators these days, or is the SWGR dude still tasked with the precision "hand off" of reactive (KVAR) power needed to prevent damaging millions of dollars worth of equipment?  One funny story I recall hearing at prototype was how the instructor told his UI watch to parallel #1 SSTG with #2 SSTG at "5 Till Twelve."  (EMs from all eras of naval history remember the thrill of getting their syncrascope running slow in the fast direction and waiting anxiously for the moment before the needle was at the 12:00 position (the "five to" mark) to shut the tie breaker).  Well, the instructor is staring at the syncrascope and to his horror his student closes the breaker when it's 180-degrees out of phase (the worst possible time).  The breaker shuts and is heard off in the distance exploding. KABOOOOOOM!  "What the f--ck did you do?" He yells.  The student says, "You said to close it at 5-till-12!" He says as he is pointing to a clock. The time was 11:55



Passing Along Thanksgiving Greetings

Wishing you all a Happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Steve Wilson


A Quiz for The MMs

Here's a quiz that some of you MMs will surely know the answer to.  Where was the "hottest" (temperature-wise, not zoomie-wise) place in the plant? What was the temperature there and how long was a person allowed to be 'in there' to work (stay time)?  For bonus points, where was the loudest place inside the plant?



HOLY SMOKES!!!! YOU M-Div'rs Do Read This Site! I had a 10 right answers to the quiz! 

(Winners listed in order of arrival ...)

It's been a long time but the hottest place was on the booster pump flats below the DFT. It was about 140F. I don't think you could last more than 10 min. I don't remember the stay time in the plant because we pretty much always exceeded it even during a normal 5 hour watch. The average temp was about 118F when in the Indian Ocean. I know the Booster flats use to burn my face going down to read the gauges. The loudest place was under the reduction gears at flank speed. Every noise amplified in the catacombs down there.

In 3 plant, we always stayed pretty much under the supply air vent above the Circ water pump suction valve limitorque actuator. When they would do Mach 1 fly overs, the dust and dirt in the duct plenum would rain down on our heads.

In '87 the yards were doing surveys on the extent of asbestos lagging in the plant. They were planning on removing all of it in the next yard period. 3 plant was ~75% asbestos. We had a lagging fire once while I was on Cold Iron Watch. A welder started it while patching the thinning condenser air box. We tried to put it out but ended up cutting it off and dipping it in the garbage can to douse it.

Names I remember from 3 plant: Jagusch (1st LPO), Nazak, Hurteau, Smith, Rivera, Murphy, Lonnie Long, Jamison, Geralds, MMCS Bobof, Bell, nitro, saunders, brett smith, rodent, schneider,


I wasn't an MM but as PPWS I know that the hottest place in the plant was the area behind the DFT on engine room upper level between the DFT and the forward bulkhead. There wasn't any ventilation there and I remember some using it as a sauna. I don't remember any time requirements since it was so hot nobody on watch would stay there any longer than the minimum.

Moe Sux

Hottest place in the plant was the booster flats under the DFT. I would say that 15 minutes was about the longest you could stay there.

Let’s see, the loudest, I would guess would be by the main feed pumps. Not only was it loud, but it was usually really humid down there due to leakage and the bilge.

Hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving.


KP, Finally a quiz this dumb-ass old CMO has some answers to.

Periodically they would send a couple of Corpsmen down to the plants to do heat stress surveys. (Not that anything ever came of this.) They always made a beeline to the Hagan control cabinet by the main feed pumps. This was a pretty hot area but not THE hottest. I remember getting qualified ERLL on the 74/75 cruise. To take the readings on the inboard side of the feed pumps the ERLL watch would take a deep breath, run in to look at his gauges then come back out to write the numbers down in the logs. Mid May '75, shortly after we left Pearl for Alameda the ER cooled down considerably. I set up a little stool between 1A and 1B main feed pumps and stood most of my watch there because the rest of the ER was just too f**king cold!

It was a popular belief among M Div types that THE hot spot was the Booster Flats. The combination of heat, 100% humidity and lack of ventilation in this area made it pretty much unbearable to spend much time there. During my last ORSE prep I had to assign cleaning/painting areas. I assigned myself the booster flats. People commented that this pretty well confirmed the widely held belief that I was crazy. Took about 2 weeks of 10 to 15 minute painting sessions to get the area squared away. And the place stayed squared away too since hardly anybody ever accessed the area. People only went in there to start/shutdown the third booster pump when going to/from a flank bell. I got the last laugh.

Most watchstanders congregated under the air blowers. One day on the '76 cruise we were in the I.O. and someone put a dial thermometer in the air duct just in front of the L.P. turbine. Our "cooling" air was 99 f**king degrees!! And that's where we went to cool off!

Also, back in the 70s there was no such thing as "stay time" due to heat exposure. (Maybe on paper but definitely not in practice.) You either sucked it up or you were a pussy. And being a pussy was not an option. (Different times. Different Navy.)

Loudest places? My guess would be the feed pumps when below a flank bell and the main reduction gears when at a flank bell.



I will put my out my answer on this one. As far as in plant and temperature I would have to say that the Booster flats in Engine Room Upper Level would have to be up there. I somehow remember ~140F on the flats underway with a 15 minute stay time. Feed Control was probably the hottest watchstation just due to the proximity to the flats. Was the loudest place in the plant RARLL during a Rx fill pump test?


Hottest: Main Feed Booster Pump Flats under the DFT

Time: I don't Remember but about 1 minute was all I could stand. Take logs and check the "Flow" on the Pump Packing Glands.

Loudest: Main Feed Pump Alley

Remember the Heat Stress Monitors and how every watch had to have a guy trained to use it?

I forget all the criteria for when the tests had to be done. above a certain ambient temp every 15 or 30 minutes... plotting the temps on a log and calculating "Stay Times" in the plant..... It didn't matter there where times when temps only a few feet from the "Blower" where 125 +++Degrees and stay time was less than 15 minutes and we still stood our 4, 5 or 6 hour watches.


Being an RM, I had limited access and understanding to this space but I believe it was the Main Feed Booster Pump Flats. Right below the DFT. Temps on this platform could normally reach 125F and watch standers could only do work in this area for a maximum of 15 min. RMs standing Feed control would have to occasionally go to this platform to open and close chem add valves to different Steam Generators.

The loudest place in the plant would have to be MMRLL near the Feed Pumps and SSTG cond pumps. I am guessing though.

Jeff Strange RM23 and RM14 '92-'97

A quiz for the MM’s. Well, I must admit that the booster flats were usually around 140F at any given time. However, I do remember wearing a steam suit with forced air when we test lifted the PORV valve in the pressurizer shed, which was pretty warm after the lift. CTG flats was always around 110F and feed control was about the same. Of course I can only speak for 1 plant. HAPPY HOLIDAYS! 

Al Decker 81-85

KP, The warmest place I recall working was the booster flats. We always dreaded when a booster pump motor or controller would die. That was a sauna! I have no idea how long we were allowed to stay there...just before you pass out would be the time to stand under the vent duct.


Ram, Tried getting on the site this a.m. via AO3 Smitty's page and got "account suspended". Is there any other way to get access? Haven't been on the site in a while and someone sent me the e-mail about the hottest place in the plant and saw that PP had already submitted an answer with which l agree on both accounts. l measured the temp on booster flats once with a small thermometer and got 158'F. Our DFT Tl was stuck on 262'F for the four years l was down there-reckon nobody thought it was important enough to change it. 

Steve "Willy" Wilson

KP Note: Wow, I owe you all beers when we meet at the reunion.  The answer to quiz was obviously the booster flats. I was always led to believe it was also the loudest place (not a nice place to be).  I never got under the redux gears during a flank bell, but it was rumored many a guy lost his mind there.  I also never was in RARLL during fill tests, as I was usually in EOS watching the panels to make sure valves and pumps did what they were supposed to.  Believe it or not there was a salinity cell below that DFT and us scumbag REs were often tasked with cleaning the damn thing.  I never complained about that after I saw the poor EE30s boys down there replacing a MFP Booster pump controller one day.  They had the whole shop down there, as no one could stand more than 10 minutes of the heat and noise.  


One Mo ...

Okay, the ELTs, EEs and MMs had a quiz this month so how about something RC-related? Okay ROs, here's your chance to shine....

Without being too specific, how did one calculate SUR? And, for S&Gs, What was the SUR used for? 



Name My Band!

Yo, brothers,

The mighty Psychedelic Mooj is contemplating a name chance.  We get too many rejections of late (and we know it isn't because of our music;) We're trying to come up with a new 'clever' name.  We almost went with The Latter Day Sinners but there's a band in Seattle called that.  I wanted to use The Exploding Mountains of Vesuvius but my mates think it a wee bit too long.  Any Ideas?

Our first CD is probably going to be called Volcanic Blues.



Wow, you RC types were lacking in the memory department! You're gonna let the MMs kick your ass like that? Only two guys could recall what a SUR was (and one was an RM).  Here's the answers I got:



rho-dot is the reactivity insertion rate

beta is the precursor yield fraction which is 0.0065

rho is the amount of reactivity inserted

It was important during Rx startup’s because you would trip out if it got too high while shimming out.


Best way to calculate SUR was with a calculator (the charts just ended up giving us all headaches), and if you were really good SUR was used to give the PPWO a heart attack at about 8 DPM on start-up

Mike Noland


Bryan Edison Comes Aboard ....

Bryan "Special Ed" Edson

Reactor Labs division July 2001 - July 2005

Aft/Fwd WCR, 2 Plant LRPT extraordinaire


More RAR Fire Stuff ....


I too read with some sense of confusion about my purported role in the fire in #1 RAR. I re-read it and was thinking, “Now a lot of these guys remember names, dates, and events with much more clarity than I do anymore so I don’t always question the details of the stories, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t start any fires in the plant.” I appreciate the anonymous correction to my role in the conflagration, but must correct a small point of error…I cross-decked to the Texas, not the California.

Regarding Dave Bockhaus aka Blockhead—He and I were practically glued to one another for the first 4 years of our enlistments. We were in the same boot camp company 283 and then went through all of the same schools including S1W @ NPTU Idaho Falls and ultimately to RM-11 together. Hopefully he shows up on your site at some point…I’d like to find out what he’s up to now. He was denuked (nothing related to the fire) along with Freddie Fresquez and another guy whose name I can’t recall right before I swapped over to the Texas. While I was in the Gulf for Desert Storm on the Texas we pulled up alongside the Gompers and had to cross over their quarterdeck to get to shore (not enough space on the pier) in Jebal Ali. Jebal Ali is pretty much a god forsaken industrial area quite a ways from the 24 hr party that is Dubai. As such they set up volleyball nets and various other pier-side activities to keep us occupied. I ran into Bockhaus one evening out there and walked up and gave him a big titty-twister. How was I to know that he had just had that nipple pierced in Pearl on the way out to the Gulf?

Here’s a moderately funny story that I was actually involved with down in #1 RARLL: We were in port during the SRA after the 88 Westpac. I was standing Charging Station watch and Mike Lee (I think that’s the name) was down there that evening with me working on chipping/painting in the bilge. He was frustrated that it was such a pain in the ass to paint the bilge with all of the brackets/pipes/etc. welded to the bottom. I suggested that he pour a bunch of red lead into the bilge and then use the air line (for the chipper) with a nozzle to just blow the paint everywhere. I thought he would realize I was just being sarcastic, but he liked the idea and I liked the possible outcome so I watched him pour the paint and then climb down under the deck plates. I heard the air nozzle start blowing and it went for maybe 10 seconds. Then Mike popped up and looked like a Jasper Johns painting. He had red lead blown all over his face and shirt. I remember finding this pretty amusing particularly as compared to watching a Heise gage for 6 hours.

Additionally, my email address has changed to:

I wish I’d checked back in more recently. I read that you were in San Diego and that’s where I live now. Hopefully next time I’ll be more up to date and then we can meet for a drink.

Jim Graziano


Memphis Nuke Checks In .... (with cryptic message)

Like the site, even if it is for a target. Just to make sure anyone from Memphis visits, a few tid bits to say I been there. Any one know where the cannon ball came from? How bout where the records ended up during the search for them? And if anyone ever runs into Bear, what where you doing when you had all those oil leak conferences? 



Craig Siefkas Checks in ....

Craig Siefkas

 EM-23 1987-1992


A Christmas Story ....

A Christmas type of story.. I think it was the Christmas of ’80, in PSNS, Bremerton. Standing watch as the 4 plant RO (of the shutdown RX plants) - we did not have SRO’s back then. I was so tired and sleepy that I had my head in my hands propped up on the RPCP shelf and was trying to doze off. The one Source Range meter reading, taken once an hour, was taxing :) Anyway, my head kept falling out of my hands each time I nodded off so I got this bright idea- I looped some tape and placed it on my palms, my left hand fingers covered the left view of my eyes to the door and I propped my head onto the taped palms! It worked great! During that microsecond just before you fall asleep, in that phase that is somewhat like an out of body experience when mind is ebbing and motor control is not there, I heard “Entering EOS!” Well, as most know, that is only the prerogative of a few people: CO, XO, RO, and the Engineer (back then), I “knew” it was Fish Lips (CDR Hynes) himself! I wanted to move slightly to be alert…but I could not! I was asleep. Like one of those bad dreams as a child where the boogeys are trying to get you and you are frozen – I could not move. That cellophane tape adhesion was like a superglue on steel! After what seemed like minutes (probably seconds), I mustered up all of my strength and moved it just enough for gravity to take over and my head fell from my hands and I was awakened!

Who was it? It was ETCS(SS) Thompson, the RX Dept Career Counselor who was the PPWS. He was sneaking cookies that his wife had made into EOS for us “lucky” holiday watchstanders to eat. 25 years later, and I still vividly remember that act of kindness!

A different EOS episode (just not at Christmas):

Many RO’s remember the 79-82 PSNS time as one that had many changes for RO watchstanding. We went from one RO covering two Rx’s to one RO for each RPCP. Many times, that placed us with 8 or 9 RO’s on the shift covering the 8 watchstations for full 8-hour watches. When you drank about 4-5 cups of coffee in the first 1 to 1.5 hours of the watch, you had to be creative about moisture elimination. Sometimes I’d “work-out” to sweat. One time we had one of our non-quals, Jerry P (to give him credit, he was waiting for an appointment to see the CO for a long time,) come into EOS when I HAD-TO-GO. I told him to stay at the panel when I ran out to a funnel on the CG flats. While he was there, and I was at the funnel, none other that Ed Ruth walks in for an NRRO monitor watch (Later, LCDR Ruth was to be my Dept. Head and I found out he was not such a bad guy). He was sniffing around EOS when I barged back into EOS. The SD watch (Oil Can Harry?) asked what I wanted, playing along, and I think I said I wanted to borrow a pen and promptly left! Later, Ed left and I slid back into EOS at the RPCP. Later, they initiated the process to routinely check the Qualified watchstanders list as part of their tours but by then I was ever mindful of the closeness of being busted on a moments notice and to plan for those head calls in advance.

Yes, many of us caught some lucky breaks, hopefully we can think back upon them as character building memories, ones that bring wisdom. 

ETCM retired now, ET2 then


Another Christmas Memory ...

KP - I was just catching up on your site and noticed this post. (About our 1999 Christmas Visit to Singapore). I too had duty on Christmas during the World Cruise (nearly 16 years ago!). Singapore was definitely not a holiday-friendly place, back then at least. Spent most of the day in #1 Switchgear. It was the first time I drank a whole cup of coffee, and the first time I remember thinking of the Enterprise as home. Not a bad day, really.

Aaron B.

A Former MM Corrects our SUR Equation Error!!!!!

You forgot to put LAMBAeff (Reactivity) in the numerator PLUS the Reactivity addition rate where LAMBAeff is the Effective Delayed Neutron Precursor constant a measure of the weighted half lives of the 6 Delayed Neutron Precursor Half Lives. In the Navy they taught you the number was .1 (which is BS. It's actually .08)

The Navy put this in the numerator PLUS the Reactivity Addition Rate.

In truth the Navy wasn't entirely correct when they did this. My guess is they wanted instantaneous SUR because they included Reactivity addition rate in the Numerator. The only time this really comes into play is the Exact moment you move the rods. After Rob Motion strops and the Prompt Neutron Population gets back to steady state the SUR Decays to some constant value provided you're below POAH. I have no reason why the Navy did this. In the commercial world we completely ignore the term.

Also, the 26.06 is a conversion factor that takes into account converting reactor period (which is what engineers and the BWR world use) to SUR and it also converts period from seconds to minutes.

Commercial PWRS just take the 26.06 and make it an even 26 because it's closed enough, also we used different numbers for LAMBAeff depending on whether it's an Up power or downpower evolution.

Beta Bar also goes does as a core ages and makes it a LOT more reactive!

Mike Brubaker (Former MM1 SS now just your basic average Senior Reactor Operator/Shift Manager)


KP Note: Thanks for the correction Mike. Since we're on the topic, would you mind giving a description of what the SUR really is and why it is important from a commercial operator POV.  As you know this site (though deemed 'in poor taste') is highly read by those soon to be operators training at NPS.  They are being taught that simplified SUR equation and I doubt this concept really means anything to them 'on paper.' Maybe one of you former ROs can share some memories from your first start up, too.

Christmas On The E

I got two Christmas stories this week (see above) and thought, hey, how about others sharing their favorite Christmas memory on the Big E? This site is actually filled with such stories but if you haven't sent one in , why not share it now?



SUR 101

Sure KP,

I'll give my best shot at an explanation for the NUBs. First of all, SUR in a commercial PWR has the same significance as for a Navy plant. I'm going to do my best to keep confidential info out of it, but if you get an Email from the powers that be kindly inform them stuff like alpha T and SUR are not confidential concepts. I will say, I believe it's about impossible to get the high SURs that a Navy; reactor is capable of in my commercial world. The highest we ever intentionally pull is is 1DPM and usually we're very satisfied with 0.5 DPM.

SUR is essentially the amount power changes in a minute. One must realize it's in decades so it's basically the amount of time in minutes it takes for reactor power to increase by a factor of 10. It doesn't seem like much BUT I'll get to that later. Just for shits and grins I figured out what it would take to make a SUR rate of 9 DPM (which by the way is the highest sustainable SUR below prompt critical. At that SUR the RO has made a change of reactivity of 49 Units. Given BetaBar is 64 units you can see it really is close to Prompt Critical. On the surface 49 units doesn't seem like a whole lot, but let's see what it did:

Think of a 1 DPM SUR. Reactor Power increases at a rate of 1 decade every minute. If for some reason a reactor had no feedback and you were able to pull a 1 DPM SUR in the power range you'd be at 100 % power in ONE MINUTE!!!! Think what a 9 DPM will do.

Shape of the curve. Assume the Rx is critical below the Point Of Adding Heat. The RO pulls Rods to establish a SUR. The Curve takes a step change up. This is because removing the CR creates more prompt neutrons. It's called the Prompt Jump. As the reactor operator continues his pull the curve takers an upwards curve, this is the Delayed neutrons becoming predominant with the rate of prompt neutron creation going down. When the Operator stops pulling rods the prompt drop happens because he's no longer making "new" families of Prompt Neutrons (this is when your Reactivity addition rate disappears) SUR is not constant.

Why is it important? At first you might not think it's important when that 49 Units of reactivity gets added because realistically from critical to 100% power it will get added anyways. However, the operator has to take into account how the reactor and fuel behave. Most Operators know the POAH will turn power, and above POAH the power follows Steam Demand (except in a BWR which is the reverse!) For the POAH to happen the fuel must start heating up, which increases cladding temperature which causes water to heat up, which stops the power increase. One thing the Navy does NOT teach is it takes roughly 3 to 6 seconds for any change in Neutron Power (i.e., the reactivity you added) to be seen in the water flowing past the fuel. Keep in mind until this effect is seen power keeps going up!!!

So lets start at 1 times 10-E3 amps, where most reactors stop to take critical data.

RO pulls to a 9DPM SUR.

about 40 seconds power is at 100% POAH occurs at about 1% power and power went from 1% to 100 % in say 15 seconds. Remember when I said it takes about 6 seconds for the fuel to transfer it's heat to the water around it? Think about it, in 15 seconds it barely had time to transfer any of it's heat, and once it does it still has to heat up the volume of the primary for alpha T to do anything. There's really nothing to stop the power rise and think YOU DID NOT EVEN PULL THIS REACTOR PROMPT CRITICAL!!!

The RO should always remember, even when he pulls a nice slow and controlled SUR that the plant will react very dynamically once it reaches POAH. The fuel needs to heat up, then the Primary water. AS the water heats up it starts inserting negative RHO BUT remember until it heats up enough power will still decrease just at a lower rate.

For the Navy Baby ROs. A few good things to look for to prove you are at POAH:

1: Power is the WORST thing to look at. The gauges don't have enough definition.

2: Check Hot Leg Temperature first. This is one of the best direct indications because it's directly after the water exits the fuel.

3: Another I use as a great first indicator is PZR Level. Almost as soon as you see PZR Level go up you know you're at POAH. This is because as the primary heats up it expands. A PWR is a closed system, the expansion shows up in the PZR.

4: Steam Generator Levels swelling. (This really depends though on how high an SUR you pulled)

The bottom line guys, don't just rely on your Power indicators as to when you hit POAH, depending on Xenon and Primary temp conditions they might tell you lies. Look for things like a T-hot going up, then a PZR Level going up, check your power indications and they and SUR should be drifting down.

ALSO remember, you pull a high SUR (say 3DPM which is still controllable) These effects will be more pronounced, You might hit POAH so hard the accompanying heat up might lift a spray valve, and your corresponding T-ave will be higher.

Hope this helped!

For the CVN 65 guys, How many damn rudders does the CVN 65 have?



KP Note: Thanks Mike.  Believe it or not this site is read by many soon-to-be operators. I've heard from many that they learn more than just how to steam (the drunken version) by reading our memories. Many concepts just don't make sense until you see it for real on a panel or see an actual turbine spin.  If any of you NPS pre-nubs want other 'concepts' explained from an 'old salt's' POV, send in a question and there are many who will be happy to give you help.

Oh, as far as rudders go, I saw 4 in Hunter's Point.  There's also one one the Capt'ns boat and one on that thing the bos'ns launch for man overboards.

Christmas In The Castle ...

KP, Christmas '72. My first Navy Christmas. I was in Great Lakes going to "A" School. They shut the school down over the holidays and I took some leave to go home and spend a few days with my family. I returned to Great Lakes on like the evening of 12/27.

The MAAs basically left Snipes Castle alone for the holidays and left the inmates to their own devices. Snipes Castle was a zoo on it's best day, but without adult supervision it really went downhill fast. I brought some homemade cookies and fudge back with me and after I shared this with some of my buds, I commented on how messy Snipes Castle had become in a few short days. One of my buds said, "Follow me." and took me to a different wing of the building. Snipes Castle had these 3 man cubicles with one side open to a central hallway. The 3 inhabitants of one cubicle had really let the shit go bad. They had totally rearranged their furniture in a way that didn't make sense. The floor was covered with a 2 inch layer of comic books, newspapers, f**k books, food wrappers, food and who knows what else. This cubicle had evidently become a sort of a tourist attraction. People made it a point to drop by and have a laugh. The 3 cubemates were actually proud of themselves and happily wallowed in their filth for all to see.

When the holiday break was over the MAAs came in and did a major zone inspection. It was funny to see words like "bizarre" and "swine-like" used to describe the condition of the barracks. What in interesting introduction to Christmas in the military.

Merry Christmas, 



Christmas '74

KP, The only Christmas l can vividly remember while on The Big E is the 1974 version. l reckon l consumed adult beverages for all the others. We were supposed to pull in on 12/11/74, but due to some goings on somewhere in Vietnam, we got extended (the first of many more extensions to come) and ended up in a combat zone. l've tried researching in the past what was happening at the time, but couldn't find anything significant. Every 3 to 4 days, the CO would tell us over the 1MC that we'd be out for a few more days. Wherever we were, all we did was cruise around slowly-don't recall any flight ops. Back in M-berthing, l recall the shuddering of the rudder-it sounded like the noise made when the 6 Million Dollar Man would perform some of his fantastic stunts, but with a much deeper tone. Finally on 12/24, we pulled into Subic. l went ashore, found my honeyko, and bee-lined it to the Zanzibar Hotel for a day of romance, thinking it would be a nice, quiet, fun-filled day. Wrong! There l was intertwined with this gal, when some stupid f**cking fellow American sailor starts his drunk, raving, bad-mouthing of one of the hotel's employees. lt was "you f**king flip this" and "you f**king flip that" for 30 minutes or so, and again a few hours later. l wanted to kill the son-of-a bitch!! But, honeyko gently coaxed me into not leaving the room, and we continued our love-fest for the remainder of the day and night, never leaving the room, not even to eat. The next day, we got something to eat early and went to her "house" and slept the day away. To this day, l would still love to kick the living sh*t out of that ignorant asshole!

Merry Christmas 

Steve "Willy" Wilson


Shmitty Returns ....

More memories,

Glad I found this site, received an email the other day from MMCS A—chey. Steve let me know he was still AD and was back on the ‘prise. Cheers to a fellow ‘prise ELT. Brings to mind my final year as an instructor at Orlando (NNPS.NFAS) and why I took a commission.

My conversation with the detailer as I looked for a set of orders:

“Mr detailer, this is MM1, yeah I am needing some orders.

<Detailer> Great Great, I need you back on the Enterprise.

I don’t want to go back to the Enterprise. One of those Nuke cruisers would be nice

<Detailer> Those are going to be Decomm’d, I need you back on the Enterprise

How bout a Nimitz class then. I could go to design school and then report to USS Harry Truman in New Construction phase. That would be cool.

<Detailer> No, I will write you orders for the Enterprise.

How bout this, I am up for MMC again this year (fourth time). If I make it, would that open up other opportunities instead of just the Enterprise?

<Detailer> That would be great if you make it…certainly would lock you in for the Enterprise then. They need Chiefs.

Allow me to summarize the last five minutes of this alleged negotiation for orders between you and I. No matter what happens you are sending me back to the Enterprise and I take up where I left off three years ago.

<Detailer> Correct

Not much negotiating here, make my PRD and EAOS match and I am gone.


Initially I had a job offer for Commercial Rx Operations for a plant in New York state. $70K starting back in ’98. Put in my last commissioning package and was selected one month later. Hmmmm take a commission or make six figure income in about four years. 

<My wife> “I love being a Navy wife take the commission…….” I remember that statement clear as day.

Since 98 I have been a Geo as I change jobs every two years. Every once in a while, wonder if Jody comes around, but the informant (my daughter) certainly would let me know. No regrets though. Seen some places I normally couldn’t have gone to if I remained a nuke.

So the lesson is, “once you are on the Enterprise for a tour…you have to continually return to her for your sea tour. Must be a NR instruction on that. See it over and over when I initially reported to her….guys would leave then sure as hell you would see them back on board three years later. Tribal knowledge RULES.



Just in Time For Christmas ...

Never say The Humble and Noble KP doesn't care about his fellow ex-swabbies.  Is that space on your wall above your work desk boring, missing some pizzazz or other such excitement? Why not dress it up with a new Psychedelic Mooj poster? What, you can't afford one... no bother.. I'll give you mine for free.  

Click Here for your very own P'Mooj poster.  Use it appropriately;)



Now, Now, Boys ...

Time to Ramble On.... Click Here for Page 43. 


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