Dr. Katrina Groth attends educator visit of nuclear navy facilities

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Dr. Katrina Groth recently had a unique opportunity to visit two nuclear navy facilities: a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and nuclear-powered submarine. The trip included an overnight visit to the USS Theodore Roosevelt nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and a tour of the USS Hampton nuclear submarine. The trip was part of an educator visit sponsored by the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate (NUPOC) program (https://www.navy.com/what-to-expect/education-opportunities/college-options-and-scholarships). Dr. Groth was one of twelve faculty and staff from engineering schools across the U.S. who flew to San Diego, CA for the visit. NUPOC applicants are offered the same trip to learn more about the NUPOC program and life as an officer in the U.S. Navy.

Highlights of the tour included embarking and disembarking the aircraft carrier, watching flight operations from multiple positions, and getting access to a submarine. Embarking on the aircraft carrier involved flying in, in full protective headgear, on a C-2 Greyhound plane and experiencing an arrested landing, which is landing at full speed on the deck and being caught by a wire. Disembarking the aircraft carrier the next day involved a catapult-assisted take-off, where the C-2 is accelerated from 0mph to 150mph in 2 seconds in a space of a single football field. Dr. Groth greatly enjoyed the catapult-assisted takeoff, which she likens to the first few seconds on a roller coaster. According to Groth, the landing felt like hitting a brick wall followed immediately by the sensations of nausea and delight (as in being delighted to discover your vehicle and body intact after hitting the brick wall).

Additional tour activities on the first day included meeting with the captain of the ship, viewing daytime flight operations from the control tower and then from the flight deck (just feet away from the aircraft) and viewing nighttime flight operations from an outdoor viewing platform.  After an exciting day of tours, the group were shown their lodging for the night: shared officer’s quarters which resembled a small double dorm room. The second day of the tour involved tours of the maintenance bays, engineering services, air traffic control, and most importantly the ship galley (navy-speak for the kitchen), which feeds 5,000 hungry sailors and officers three meals a day.

After leaving the aircraft carrier, the group headed over to the USS Hampton (SSN-767) for an interior tour. This was an especially exciting opportunity because security considerations generally limit access for non-Navy personnel. The technology on the submarine was impressive, especially considering the small footprint (a mere 362ft long and 33ft across at the widest point). Accommodations were decidedly smaller, with 3-6 officer’s sharing quarters roughly the size of a single dorm room.

The trip was a once-in a-lifetime opportunity and provided great insight into the many opportunities available within the U.S. Navy. Dr. Groth came away with a new perspective on Navy missions, technology, and associated opportunities for engineers.  If you’re interested in learning more about the program, please contact Dr. Groth or a navy officer recruiter for the NUPOC program.

Photos from Dr. Groth's visit may be found here

Published July 30, 2019