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.”

Posted by Jeffrey Withington in Navy
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  • Strong correlation between honor and ability to lead. You have that concept for a reason. Treasure it always, and congrats!

  • ADM J. C. Harvey, Jr USN

    MIDN Withington, congratulations and welcome to the Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Program – we’re very glad to have you on the team.
    A great deal of hard work awaits, but the rewards for that effort are great as is the satisfaction of serving in our Submarine force, the world’s best.
    My very best wishes to you and I look forward to serving with you in the Fleet. All the best, JCHjr

  • Andy (JADAA)

    Worry not about merging the ultimate technical naval profession with your major. Your degree will give you the tools to form perspective and context to an extent and level many of your peers will envy. This will serve you well both in Engineering and forward.


  • Chap

    Nicely written, shipmate. Enjoy the pipeline; it was work, but good work.

  • Benjamin Walthrop

    Congratulations on making the program.


  • jwithington

    Thanks everyone!

    ADM Harvey, thank you for the warm welcome and I hope all is going well at Fleet Forces Command!

  • Congratulations MIDN Withington!
    The Naval Institute celebrates your success…and wonders…who will be the next MIDN blogger when you leave?

  • Congratulations!!

    Now do me one favor, keep this post in your records. And when you’re coming off the mid-watch, rolling into a set of drills, and still trying to qualify submarines, remember the pride you felt at being accepted into the program today.

    It IS indeed an honor and a privilege that you worked hard for. Try not to forget that when the hours become long, the underways become endless, and the end no longer seems in sight.

    Submarining is hard.

    The hard is what makes it great.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Congratulations Mister:

    Welcome to the long treadmill of qual cards. Go “Fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run”.

    Take care of your family, your sailors, and “your” ship. The very best you can. Family above all. They are yours forever. The rest is pretty much on loan.

    Stay away from the nuke trap. Force yourself to be your best as an OOD, a ship handler, and a tactician. You do not want to be light on those as a CO.

    Remember the only grade that counts is the one you give yourself when you look in the mirror the day after you leave active duty.

    Welcome, you poor lucky bastard. Break a leg.

    Very Enviously


  • Congrats! Nice post.

  • Congratulations MIDN Withington!