b'C H A P T E R 10C O R E S A N D C O M P ET E N C I E Snew experiences. An admiral oncetoured the S1W prototype and thenstayed for lunch with his guides. Laterhe learned who the men were. Enlistedmen! I thought they were college physi-cists! 12When he felt competent in a system,the trainee sought an instructor toexamine him and sign his checklist.Mastery gradually produced a long listof signatures. The trainee then stoodwatch at one of the operating stations inthe hull. At first, he was paired with amore experienced mate, but then hehimself was in charge. Learn one sta-tion, move to the next. The traineesstarted the reactor plant, took it up to Naval Reactor Facilitiesfull power, maneuvered, shut it down, 1950s photo showing A1W in center view. Round-top structure on roof is an all-weather shelter for a crane.repaired it, maintained it. Although thenuclear program attracted the top twopercent of the Navys enlistees, some Enterprise, a mammoth ship containing produced a terrific boom that rolledmen wiped out, usually because of a eight reactors and four engine rooms. across the desert and might havefailure of self-initiative, not academic On aircraft carriers, there is room out- reminded Naval Proving Ground veter-insufficiency. There were few second board of the reactor compartments to ans of the good old days at the gunnerychances. The story is told that one hot put other equipment or offices. To range. 15summer day, a few sailors took a make those areas habitable withoutrefreshing but forbidden dip in a cool- stay-time restrictions, the compartments Then in 1961 came the S5G prototypeing-water pond on their way home. needed to be shielded on the sides. The (the 5th submarine design, made byCaught, they were dismissed. 13 A1W prototype, therefore, did not General Electric). As the Cold Warrequire testing in a tank of water. 14 intensified, the United States and theThe training program grew more com- USSR poured their latest technologyplicated as nuclear fuel evolved and as The conventional steam plant aboard into the theory and practice of underseathe Navy adapted nuclear power to sur- non-nuclear aircraft carriers supplied warfare. They wired the ocean floorsface vessels. In 1958 a second proto- energy to catapult airplanes off the with sound detectors. These called forthtype, A1W (Afor aircraft carrier), went decks. When nuclear reactors took their technology to quiet the submarines.critical in a new building west of S1W. place, they operated at temperatures not One source of noise came from theThe prototype actually consisted of two as high as conventional plants. pumps that circulated the coolantreactors, A and B, which powered Producing a sufficiently powerful head through the reactor and kept it underone propeller shaft, a first that the of steam for the catapult therefore pressure. The art of sound detectionNRF quickly added to its list of credits. required some adaptation of operations. became so refined that skilled listenersThe arrangement simulated Engine A series of experiments at A1W simu- could identify the unique sound pat-Room Number Three of an aircraft car- lated catapult launches using steam terns of individual boats. So the mis-rier, the first of which was USS draw-down from the reactor. Each test sion of S5G was to eliminate noise. 169 1'