What to Expect
Nuclear Machinist’s Mates operate and maintain steam turbines and reduction gears used for nuclear ship propulsion and auxiliary machinery such as turbogenerators, pumps and oil purifiers. They also maintain auxiliary machinery outside of main machinery spaces, such as electrohydraulic steering engines and elevators, refrigeration plants, air conditioning systems and desalinization plants. They may also operate and maintain compressed gas producing plants. Nuclear-trained MMs perform duties in nuclear propulsion plants operating reactor control, propulsion and power generation systems.
As a Machinist’s Mate Nuclear, you’ll have the opportunity to work at sea or ashore. Your assignment could also place you in an intense, fast-paced environment aboard a nuclear-powered submarine or aircraft carrier.
Learn more about submarine service and life on a ship.
Training & Advancement
Upon completion of the initial 7-9 week training at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, (known as Boot Camp), those pursuing a Machinist's Mate Nuclear role report to “A” School in Charleston, SC, for six months. Here, they develop a working knowledge of technical mathematics and power distribution. Students learn to solve basic equations using phasors, vector notations and basic trigonometry and analyze DC and AC circuits. They also learn how to operate electrical equipment using controllers, and how to properly test, maintain, troubleshoot, and repair electrical circuits, motors and other related electrical equipment.
From there, MMNs move on to Naval Nuclear Power School (NNPS), also in Charleston, SC. Here they learn theory and practical application of nuclear physics and reactor engineering. The six-month course provides a comprehensive understanding of a pressurized-water Naval nuclear power plant, including reactor core nuclear principles, heat transfer and fluid systems, plant chemistry and materials, mechanical and electrical systems, and radiological control.
Following NNPS, MMNs begin prototype training in their rating specialty at one of two Nuclear Power Training Units (NPTUs) – located in Charleston, SC, and Ballston Spa, NY. This six-month course teaches the fundamentals of a Naval nuclear power plant and the interrelationship of its mechanical, electrical, and reactor subsystems. Students develop oral communications skills, obtain an understanding of nuclear radiation, and gain knowledge of the safe operation of a complex Naval nuclear power plant.
In Nuclear Operations, promotion opportunities are regularly available but competitive and based on performance.
It’s also important to note that specialized training received and work experience gained in the course of service can lead to valuable credentialing and occupational opportunities in related fields in the civilian sector.
Beyond offering access to professional credentials and certifications, Navy technical and operational training for a Machinist's Mate Nuclear can translate to credit hours toward a bachelor’s or associate degree through the American Council on Education.
You may also continue your education through undergraduate degree opportunities like the Navy College Program and Tuition Assistance and the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
Qualifications & Requirements
A high-school diploma or equivalent is required to become an Enlisted Sailor and Machinist’s Mate Nuclear in the Navy. Those seeking a role as a Machinist’s Mate Nuclear must be U.S. citizens with successful completion of one year of Algebra, and who can meet eligibility requirements for a security clearance.