Navy Dads

The final phase of the Nuke Pipeline is Prototype. This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. This is where all of the stuff you crammed in your brain at NPS is going to start to make sense because you get to see it in action.
Prototype consists of two phases. The first phase is referred to as "Out-Hull." This phase is much like Power School. You will have classroom lectures on the various systems specific to the plant that you are on. These lectures will go into excruciating detail as you will be required to know some very specific information about each system when you start getting your system "checkouts." A checkout is basically an oral exam on a system or other topic. You will be quizzed by an instructor on the various aspects of the system and if they feel your knowledge level is sufficient, they will sign you off. Checkouts will pretty much be your job when you are in Prototype. The out-hull phase lasts approximately 6 weeks, at which time you will move to the "In-Hull" phase of training. This is sometime also referred to as going "On-Crew."
During the In-Hull phase, you will be assigned to one of five crews that keep the Prototype going 24/7. You will be working on a rotating shift schedule. The schedule is 7 days of swing shift (3PM-11PM), a couple days off, 7 days of mid-shift (11PM-7AM), a couple days off, 7 days of day shift (7AM-3PM), a normal weekend, then a regular M-F work week followed by a 4 day weekend. Then the cycle starts all over again. Also, students are required to come in 4 hours prior to their shift (swings/mids) or stay 4 hours after their shift (days) until they are qualified. Once qualified, they go on the regular 8 hour shift. That is a HUGE incentive to get qualified quickly.
The real meat of the In-Hull phase is watch standing. You will be required to stand several training watches on each watch station you will be qualifying as well as some evaluated watches. This is what Prototype is all about, teaching you how to get qualified and stand a good watch. Each training day is broken up into two halves. Each half, they will do something different with the plant. Startup, shut down, down and up in the same half, normal steaming operation, or casualty drills are some of the things that will happen. Just about everything you do while you are on watch will have a sign off for it.
Just like Power School, there will be exams, some written, some oral. When you are 50% complete, you will complete a 50 percent "check board." This allows the staff to assess you knowledge level to date and remediate any weak areas. You will also have a written Comprehensive exam just like at NPS. The Coup de Gras for Prototype exams, though, is the Final Oral Board. This is what certifies you as a Nuclear Operator. You will be examined in all aspects of your training by 2 instructors and a civilian engineer. Once you pass this board, you are qualified and allowed to stand watch in the plant by yourself. And you probably will at some point before you graduate if you qualify early enough.
On qualifying, it is pretty much up to you how fast you qualify. Other than scheduling your training watches, the rest is up to you. All you have to do is get all of the signatures in your qualification standard signed. Most people who have trouble getting checkouts and/or making progress are either 1) socially inept or 2) studying too much for checkouts. You can't be afraid to talk to people. An instructor is not going to ask you if you want a checkout. You have to seek them out. Also, you can go to instructors on other crews too. Your crew won't be there during the extra 4 hours you have to be there so it's wise to get familiar with the other crews. On studying too much, while you have to know a lot, it's OK to not know everything. On the boat we used to say "Don't let knowledge get in the way of qualification." What that means is study the major things about whatever you're trying to get a checkout on and then go try to get it. If the instructor asks you something you don't know, just say that you don't know and you'll look it up. They will move on and ask you more questions. At the end, go look up the stuff you didn't know and take your answers back to the instructor and they will sign you off. Even if you have to look some stuff up, you will spend less time getting your signature than you would if you studied every little detail before you went and tried it. Remember, the sooner you qualify, the easier your life gets.

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