Nuclear energy industry and Navy establish formal partnership for vets

ATLANTA — The civilian nuclear energy industry and the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program signed an agreement today establishing the first systematic program that allows personnel separating from the Navy to seamlessly transition to civilian employment.

The agreement of understanding is the first, formal partnership between the Navy and the nuclear energy industry designed to put veterans to work in the growing domestic nuclear energy field.

“This is an exciting day. The nuclear industry expects to hire about 25,000 more workers over the next four years, and this agreement allows us to bring in experienced, highly skilled people who deserve rewarding civilian careers after selfless service to their country,” said Tony Pietrangelo, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s senior vice president and chief nuclear officer.

Nuclear-trained naval personnel who have decided to leave the service following the end of their commitment will have the option to have their contact information provided to industry recruiters with the nearly 30 companies that have signed the agreement of understanding.

“Establishing this agreement with the nuclear energy industry facilitates the Navy’s access to the graduates of the commercial Nuclear Uniform Curriculum Program to provide them opportunities to serve as nuclear-trained sailors. Additionally, Navy veterans can request their contact information be provided to commercial industry recruiters allowing former sailors more opportunities to use their hard-earned skills after they decide to leave the Navy. Both of these are right for the Navy and the nation,” said Steve Trautman, the deputy director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.

The agreement expands from the civilian sector to also include recruitment by the Navy for enlisted positions through the industry’s Nuclear Uniform Curriculum Program, a partnership with 38 community college to educate the next generation of nuclear technicians, operators and maintenance personnel.

The uniform curriculum program was designed to ensure a pipeline of talent trained to high, consistent standards at all the participating schools.

The agreement will allow the Navy to directly recruit from the partner colleges, which will promote multiple career opportunities after graduation to now include the Navy as well as industry and government.

“The beauty of this agreement is that it provides a multi-avenue flow for training the next generation of nuclear workers who can gain the skills and experience needed through formal education in or out of the military, on-the-job training or both that ensures a bright future in a growing industry,” Pietrangelo said.

Nuclear energy facilities operating in 31 states provide electricity to one of every five U.S. homes and businesses. Five reactors are under construction in three states—Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee—and 73 of the nation’s 104 reactors over the past decade have received 20-year license extensions from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; additional license renewal applications are pending with the NRC. Nearly all operating reactors are expected to receive extended operating licenses that will permit them to continue producing electricity to sustain U.S. economic growth past 2030 up to mid-century.

Numerous independent studies have projected the need for dozens of additional nuclear energy facilities to be built in the next few decades to help meet rising electricity demand and replace retiring fossil-fueled power plants facing increasingly stringent air-quality requirements. Nuclear energy facilities supply about two-thirds of the electricity produced by low-carbon sources in the United States.