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The Officer Navy Experience

Well, I applied for an officer program, Nuclear Enlisted Commissioning Program (NECP), when I was in Power School.  I learned that I had been accepted when I was in prototype.  With NECP, you go to college to earn a degree, and then go to Officer Candidate School (OCS) to be commissioned as an officer.  Since I was accepted in December, and summer quarter at Auburn University (War Eagle!!!! to all you AU grads out there) didn't start until March, I completed my RO qualification at prototype and stuck around for about a month before going to AU.

Well, 3 glorious years later, I graduated from Auburn with a bachelor's in Computer Engineering, and was shipped off to Pensacola, FL, to attend OCS.  Thirteen glorious weeks in the oceanside beauty of Florida, being yelled at by Marines.  When you arrive at OCS, you are a Officer Candidate.  Basically, the bottom of the totem pole.  The first week, there is a lot of yelling, and you are dressed in the military's finest garb: olive drab coveralls and a silver helmet.  Pretty much every 15 minutes you're told to "drop."  After the first week, you've been issued your khaki uniforms, and you start wearing those.  The yelling and physical training doesn't end, though.  PT occurs every morning, with 15-30 minutes of push-ups, sit-ups, 8-count body-builders, and other cardiovascular exercises, followed by 1.5-3 miles of running in formation bellowing out various cadences.  That's followed by breakfast, then classes in the morning.  After lunch, there are afternoon classes.   Classes teach basic military history, navigation, military courtesy, and various other topics good for officers to know.  Then, there's dinner.  The good thing is, after 6pm, the Drill Instructors (DI's) don't bother you until taps at 9pm.  From 6-9, you study for tests, dress up uniforms, shine shoes, and whatever else you need to do.  The last 2 weeks at OCS, you're upgraded to the rank of Candidate Officers ("Candy-O's").  Yes, there is a difference between Officer Candidates and Candy-O's.  When you're a Candy-O, the DI's have put enough training into you that they stop yelling (unless they have to) and talk to you like civilized people.  They allow you to start leading the companies in PT and formation drilling, and get you ready for your graduation parade.  It's actually pretty kewl.  My company's DI was an outstanding guy by the title of Staff Sergeant Lewis.  I know I'll never forget him.   He really taught me a lot.

After OCS, I went through Power School again (in Charleston, SC, this time), and prototype in New York.  Blah, blah, blah.  Upon graduation from prototype, qualified as Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW), I went to Submarine Officer Basics Course (SOBC) in Groton, CT.  There, they teach you about the basics of submarines.  This consists of basic systems like the trim system, ballasting, sonar, contact tracking, torpedoes, and the missile systems.  They even have a virtual trainer where you can look through the periscope and track contacts on sonar.   Near the end, I finally learned what boat I was going to: the USS OHIO (SSBN 726).