Archive for the 'nuclear power' Tag

The first women selected to serve onboard submarines have been identified. Some questions are worth asking…and they deserve answers. In the interest of transparency, the Navy owes the public – at the very least the sub community – an explanation of how these ladies were chosen for this elite duty. How many competed for selection? And how will future female submarine assignments be made?

USNI Blogger MIDN Jeff Withington recently described the rigorous screening process he completed for selection to nuclear power and the submarine community. Considering that annual nuke power and sub assignments were made last October, was a similar selection process held recently for these female candidates? Was some other process used?

Because the first group of females did not compete for assignment in October, they apparently didn’t compete against anyone except themselves. Until we know how many women applied, we won’t know how tough (statistically at least) the competition was. In the future, women should compete against for assignment to the submarine community without quotas, on equal footing against men and each other. Certainly the ‘right’ number of women need to be selected to fill staterooms and not leave a ship’s manning unbalanced, but otherwise, women should compete against every other applicant for assignment to this community.



Departing USNA grounds at 0600 this past Tuesday, I interviewed for nuclear submarine duty at Naval Reactors (NR) in Washington DC. The process consists of 2 technical interviews, which tested my skills in calculus, physics, and electrical engineering among other subjects. Following the round of technical interviews, I had a ~5 minute interview with ADM Donald, Director, Naval Reactors.

Arriving at NR at 0700, my group of 20 fellow midshipmen, interviewing for either submarines or surface warfare nuclear option, shuffled into a conference room where we were briefed on the plan of the day. We then had a quick breakfast where I ran into USNI blog reader “BWalthrop” who wished me luck…it’s a small world!

Around 0800 the first round of technical interviews started. “Come on in, Mr. Withington. Imagine you and a friend were doing a science experiment…”and I was asked how the velocity of my friend’s plane in terms of my car’s velocity. Something I don’t do too regularly with my friends or as a history major! I was peppered with other questions for the rest of the hour and walked out a little shell-shocked. The second interview went a little better and I was dismissed for lunch.

Then it was time for the interview with the “ADMIRAL” (all caps according to our instructions for the interview). My last name landed me the last interview with the ADMIRAL for the day. We moved to another holding room and one by one we were called out. By the time 3 of us were left, we anxiously paced the room and awaiting the interview and decision.

Then I was called to wait outside his office door; I was getting pretty nervous by this point. An officer opened the door and beckoned me in the room. As soon as I passed the doorframe into the room I began my scripted introduction, “Good afternoon Admiral, I’m MIDN 1/c Jeff Withington from West Chester, Pennsylvania. In high school I participated in debate and cross country,” I was sitting in “The Seat” by this point, “while at the Academy I have participated in Masqueraders and Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference. I am currently company honor adviser. I am interviewing for submarines.” My wait for the first question lasted about .001 sec after I completed my intro: “Tell me about what you do as company honor adviser.”

OK, this is good, I thought; I didn’t receive the expected and more confrontational “How are you majoring in history and are interested to do nuclear power?” As soon as I finished my answer, he probed for more details about what I exactly did. He then began to ask how I would punish those found to violate our honor concept. More whys followed. “OK, well thank you.” And that was it.

I waited outside and a commander in service dress blues came up to me, offered his hand, and said MIDN Withington, welcome to the program.”



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