Shipmate Spotlight

Lt. Robert Brady USN (ret.)


Lt. Robert Brady USN (ret.), USS Dace (SSN 607) – Fast Attack Submarine - US Navy - active duty, August 1970 – June 1976  

My experiences in the Submarine Service that made a BIG difference for me. When I graduated from High School, the Vietnam war was underway and my Draft Number was six.  However, I had signed up for Navy ROTC at Purdue University and was therefore not Drafted into the Vietnam fighting forces.  Instead, I requested and was accepted into the Navy’s Submarine Nuclear Power School and Prototype training program and then assigned to the submarine USS Dace (SSN 607). The Nuclear Power School program was a complete review of all of my College Engineering Training plus Nuclear Engineering subjects administered over a 6 month period.  It was the best “real world” training that I believe I could have ever received from any other military or civilian company employment. 

It helped me to really understand all of those engineering principles that I had studied in college but never clearly knew how to apply them. The reactor plant Prototype training (at the Idaho National Laboratory), that I then went to for 6 months, was a “qualification” program on how to operate a nuclear reactor.  Most companies just do an “internship” program over a number of years, but the Navy’s singularly focused and intense qualification program did it the best way that for over 50 years I have ever heard of. After this one year of Nuclear Power training, I then with to Groton, Connecticut for Sub-School training, which I was really looking forward to and excited about completing, so I could report to my boat (submarines are called a “boat” not a ship). Then it was time to “go to sea” on a fast attack submarine in the middle of the cold war, when submarines had a very important function.  In order to achieve success, the boat and its Reactor Plant had to perform in an extraordinary fashion.  I knew that, and all of my fellow crew members knew that as well.  It was the most exciting and fulfilling experience I have ever had to be with a crew of 100 people who were all really focused on both high-quality performance and achieving team goals. 

A submarine crew is a true “team” when accomplishing all aspects of the boat’s performance.  I never experienced such solidarity in any other job that I had after the Navy or in any of my other ventures over the last 50 years.  I’m sure it is the same for today’s submariners. Then, after doing some very important Cold War operations, my submarine was put in Drydock for a nuclear reactor refueling.  In those days the reactor did not last as long as it does today, and we had to remove the used-up reactor fuel and replace it with new fuel rods.  At the same time, we did an upgrade of the submarine’s other systems and sonar equipment.  That 3-year experience both in the shipyard and doing post-overhaul testing was another really rewarding experience that I could not have been involved with by working for any corporation, even the shipyard itself.  During the overhaul and refueling, the crew was responsible for keeping track of and jointly overseeing all activities.  Therefore, again we operated as a true “team” - but each of us also had to think ahead so that we could avoid any problems or bad results. 

That experience taught me more about how to plan for and then achieve goals by using the best possible approaches, and thereby minimizing bad results, than I could have imagined under any other circumstance. When I left the Navy and went to work in the civilian Nuclear Power industry, I was ready to “get the job done” in the best and most appropriate fashions compared to anyone that I have worked for or with in the last 50 years.  I could not have done it without having been in the Submarine Service and learned from that experience.  Today, I’m sure it is the same and if you join the Submarine Service you will get the same results and satisfaction that I have had.  So, you should become a Submariner and “GO FOR IT.”

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