Those who work on submarines are experts in their specialty, whether they're captains of the vessel or technicians for electronic or sonar systems. Creeping through the ocean hundreds of feet below the surface requires crew members to be ready for anything at any time, such as putting out fires or blocking leaks, because a single mistake could be deadly. Jobs on Navy submarines require critical-thinking skills, technical abilities and a high level of secrecy.
Nobody is forced to work on submarines -- they must volunteer for the position, pass a series of ability tests and undergo specialized training. To reach that level, applicants must prove their understanding of topics specific to submarines, such as propulsion, navigation systems and damage control. The Navy notes that workers must also adjust to life on submarines, where time runs on an 18-hour schedule of six hours actively working, followed by 12 hours of down time to eat, sleep, study or train.
Working in submarine electronics doesn't require a degree and offers many facets, such as weapons management. Fire control technicians manage submarines' combat control systems and weapons. According to the Navy, this may include nuclear ballistic missiles, cruise missiles or torpedoes. In addition to safely testing and securing weapons, fire control techs also maintain general computer systems that control functions other than tactical equipment, like electricity.
Submarine electronics also offers positions for sonar and electronics technicians. The Navy reports that sonar technicians on submarines use sonar, auxiliary sonar and oceanographic equipment to interpret underwater information and locate enemy targets. Electronics technicians are in charge of navigation and communications systems, including the radio equipment used to communicate with home bases. Although a bachelor's degree isn't a requirement, all technicians need extensive skills in mathematics, computers and high-tech equipment. In addition, electronics technicians are required to be U.S. citizens and must typically obtain security clearances.
Officers on nuclear submarines manage atmosphere and fire control activities, oversee nuclear systems, navigate the submarine and keep track of its location. During their shift, they regularly run intelligence and communications equipment to gather general geographical data and report back to base. Candidates must have a bachelor's degree or be in pursuit of one to become a submarine officer; those studying technical areas such as engineering, chemistry or physics are preferred.
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