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The most secretive of Navy vessels, a submarine requires a select community of specially trained professionals to operate its classified, highly advanced hardware. The Sailors in the Submarine Electronics Computer Field (SECF) work with a submarine’s sonar, weapons, communications and navigation systems. The training is rigorous and the career opportunities are equally impressive.
Within Submarine Electronics, there are four distinct focus areas that have their own training paths and job descriptions.
Fire Control Technician (FT)
FTs operate, test and maintain submarine combat control systems. They participate in weapons handling functions and operate and maintain non-tactical computer systems and peripherals. They are responsible for a huge array of weapons, which may include torpedoes, Tomahawk® cruise missiles and even nuclear ballistic missiles capable of reaching anywhere in the world.
Sonar Technician, Submarine (STS)
STSs specialize in underwater acoustic technologies. They operate a submarine’s sonar, oceanographic equipment, and auxiliary sonar to conduct underwater surveillance, collect scientific data and track enemy targets. They also perform maintenance on the highly sensitive, highly classified sonar hardware.
Electronics Technician (ET/RF AND ET/NAV)
ETs focus on installing, administering and maintaining onboard communications and navigations systems. ET/RFs work with and maintain submarine radio communication equipment, systems and programs (including submarine LAN systems). ET/NAVs specialize in submarine navigation and radio equipment, systems and programs.
There are also electronics careers that require advanced nuclear training and involve working with nuclear reactor control, propulsion and power generation on Navy nuclear-powered submarines or aircraft carriers. Learn about opportunities in nuclear operations.
There are no part-time jobs available for this career track.
As a Navy Submarine electronics specialist, you may serve at sea or ashore, operating and repairing systems and equipment on Navy submarines at bases, ports of call, or while underway in undisclosed ocean waters. Since deployments are secret and stealthy, your time in a submarine may last for several months, sometimes with little or no time on the surface.
Upon completion of initial 7–9 week Recruit Training (known as Boot Camp), those pursuing positions in the Navy submarine electronics field report to Basic Enlisted Submarine School in Groton, Conn., for 4 weeks instruction in basic submarine systems. From there, Sailors attend “A” School in Groton, Conn., to receive formal Navy schooling in their specialty area. There they receive extensive training in electricity, electronics, computers, digital systems, fiber optics and electronics repair.
“A” School for FTs – This 27- to 33-week course in Groton, Conn., provides a basic knowledge of electronics, mathematics and computer theory to support the operation and basic maintenance of submarine weapons control systems. It includes group instruction and training in practical application and equipment labs. Further training may be received at a “C” School that provides learning in advanced maintenance, TLAM (Tomahawk® Land-Attack Missile) Strike and both computer and computer language skills, including maintenance, operations and security of systems operated and maintained.
“A” School for STSs – This 18-week course in Groton, Conn., provides a basic knowledge of electrical skills, electronics, computers and sonar fundamentals. It includes group instruction and training in practical application and equipment labs. Further training may be received at a “C” School that provides advanced maintenance instruction on specific equipment as well as Advanced Oceanography and Acoustic Intelligence Analysis.
“A” School for ETs (ET/RF and ET/NAV) – This nine-week course in Groton, Conn., provides a basic knowledge of electricity, electronics and technical computer skills. This is immediately followed by a 14–28-week course – in either Groton, Conn.; Kings Bay, Ga.; or Bangor, Wash. – that provides further training specific to the communications (ET/RF) or navigations (ET/NAV) specialty, as well as assignment to a fast attack or ballistic missile submarine. The course includes group instruction and training in practical application and equipment labs. Further training may be received at a “C” School that provides advanced maintenance instruction on specific equipment.
Navy Nuclear Field (NF) Program
To learn more about the additional training involved with becoming a nuclear-trained ET, refer to the Navy Nuclear Field (NF) Program section on the nuclear operations page.
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 opportunitiesin related fields.
To learn more about the specific training path for any of the focus areas within the field of submarine electronics, locate a recruiter.
Beyond offering access to professional credentials and certifications, Navy technical and operational training in the field of submarine electronics 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 opportunities like the following:
A high school diploma or equivalent is required to become an Enlisted Sailor in the Submarine Electronics field in the Navy. Those seeking a position in this community must be U.S. citizens who can meet eligibility requirements for a security clearance.
General qualifications may vary depending upon whether you’re currently serving, whether you’ve served before or whether you’ve never served before.