HOW TO START A NUCLEAR REACTOR
One of the things I wrote for the COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE is dear to my heart – and that
is, how to start a nuclear reactor. Other than conning the submarine out to sea, this
was one of the coolest things to do aboard. It goes something like this:
First, open your eyes when you are shaken awake by the duty chief. It is 1:45 a.m.
Your face is in a puddle of drool on the wardroom table where you faded out a half hour
ago, after working on the prestart checklist all day. You stand on your feet, tuck in
your khaki shirt and retie your boondockers (naval combat boots), then put two teaspoons
of coffee grounds into a cup and stir it up in "bug juice," the sugary Navy-issue Kool-Aid
equivalent. Then fill the cup back up with fresh coffee from the pot and slurp it down
before walking back aft into the engineering spaces.
Normal reactor startup is just not right unless done in the wee hours of the night. If
all goes well, by zero six hundred hours when the chief engineer comes in, the ship will
be divorcing from shorepower. Your relief will take over at 0700, in time for officers'
call with the XO (see sidebar). Maneuvering watch will be set at 0730, at which point
you'll climb to the sail and take the OOD watch and drive her out for the op. By the time
you see your rack, the ship will be submerged and it will be after evening meal.
One of the things I wrote for the COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE is dear to my heart – and that is, how to start a nuclear reactor. Other than conning the submarine out to sea, this was one of the coolest things to do aboard. It goes something like this:
First, open your eyes when you are shaken awake by the duty chief. It is 1:45 a.m. Your face is in a puddle of drool on the wardroom table where you faded out a half hour ago, after working on the prestart checklist all day. You stand on your feet, tuck in your khaki shirt and retie your boondockers (naval combat boots), then put two teaspoons of coffee grounds into a cup and stir it up in "bug juice," the sugary Navy-issue Kool-Aid equivalent. Then fill the cup back up with fresh coffee from the pot and slurp it down before walking back aft into the engineering spaces.
Normal reactor startup is just not right unless done in the wee hours of the night. If all goes well, by zero six hundred hours when the chief engineer comes in, the ship will be divorcing from shorepower. Your relief will take over at 0700, in time for officers' call with the XO (see sidebar). Maneuvering watch will be set at 0730, at which point you'll climb to the sail and take the OOD watch and drive her out for the op. By the time you see your rack, the ship will be submerged and it will be after evening meal.
Secrets of the Deep
The XO or executive officer is second-in-command of the submarine. He does all the heavy lifting for the captain, allowing the captain to step back and think tactically and review the situation. All of the duties you would think the captain has are really done by the XO. The captain hangs out in his stateroom in deep thought while the XO fights the fires. The captain comes in at 10, has lunch with the officers, then leaves for golf with the commodore. Meanwhile, the XO is in early, flies through a foot-tall stack of paperwork, and is five ass-chewings into the day by the time officers' call commences at 0700. At officers' call, all the department heads (chief engineer, navigator, weapons officer and supply officer) and the division officers (junior officers who report to the department heads) sit at the wardroom table and go through the XO's list. If you worked for Central Casting and had to send in someone for the XO's role, you would think of the meanest son of a bitch you know, but imbue him with a father figure's authority. On a ship of the force, the XO was hated and feared. Officers complained bitterly about him. The last day of his XO tour, in a foreign port in the middle of an intense op, with his relief onboard and his car waiting, the officers were all holding back tears. Observing this as a young midshipman, I asked one of the officers what was going on – "you hated the XO," I said. "He was a second father to me," the lieutenant sniffed as he pushed me out of the way. You'll never forget your first love, and you'll never forget your first XO.
In the Submarine Force, the XO is a jack of all trades. As a senior nuke, he probably had a chief engineer tour before becoming XO, so he's more experienced than the chief engineer. He tends to keep the Eng hopping, making sure all the reactor paperwork is perfect. He has his own staff to run the administration of the ship, and every junior officer "dotted line" reports to the XO on anything the XO wants or needs. Every memo on its way to the captain is "chopped" (seen by and commented on) by the XO. The XO runs the ship, and is the busiest man aboard, often working till late in the night or extremely early in the morning. You need the impossible done, the XO's your man. If you become selected for XO, get a good vacation in first. For the next three years, you will barely do anything but work and sleep, and the latter is not guaranteed.
Oh, and make sure your wife is the independent type who'd just as soon you were out of her hair at sea someplace.
You find the duty chief and ask him to pass the word on the 1MC to station section three watches aft, and to send the messenger around to the bunks of the watchsection to get them aft for the startup.
As you walk into the engineering spaces you have begun your "pre-watch tour." You practically live back aft, so anything out of the ordinary is immediately apparent. One of the things you do is make sure the watchstanders are alert. They've all taken their stations, all of them bleary-eyed, wrinkled and unshaven. For a moment a feeling of pure affection for the nukes of this crew overwhelms you – what heart these youngsters have, up in the middle of the night to start a reactor with no complaining, all of them calm professionals.
As you walk the nooks and crannies of the plant, down into the bowels of engineroom lower level at the refrigeration plant, you are reminded of a line from Hemingway that one of the junior officers loves to misquote: "I went below to see how things were. Things were bad." You smile to yourself as you climb the ladder to engineroom upper level and huddle up with the engineering watch supervisor and the ERUL (engineroom upper level) watch.
The engineering watch supervisor, or EWS, is the Robin to your Batman, a chief who is a highly qualified nuke. He could run the watchsection without you, but probably wouldn't want to. You stand between the SSTGs and talk about the startup and the status of the plant. He replies that everything is nominal and ready for the startup. You tell the EWS to see you in the maneuvering room in five minutes.
You go to the door of maneuvering, the nuclear control room. It is a sacred place, not unlike the high priests' chamber of a temple. People do not raise their voices in maneuvering. No one enters without the permission of the ranking nuke inside, unless they are the chief engineer (Eng), XO, captain or the EOOW himself.
The Eng (pronounced "ennnnj") is the universal Navy nickname for the chief engineer, or engineer for short. Officers have gone for their whole three-year engineer tour without anyone calling them anything but "Eng." It is sometimes thought that people have forgotten this individual's real name. If you call him at home and his wife answers, you still ask for "the Eng." She understands. It wouldn't surprise you if his kids called him that. On some ships, where the Eng is particularly bothersome, he may instead be called "Feng," short for "The-F-Word-Eng." The Eng is the ranking nuke aboard, and he is all-powerful, a deity aboard the ship. This is why, when he gets his ass chewed at officers' call by the XO, it would be like watching God the Father bitching out Jesus Christ. And if the XO is like a celestial being pulling the puppet strings on a deity, the captain is unbelievably powerful.
The EOOW is the engineering officer of the watch. He is the Eng's representative running the reactor plant. When the reactor and steam plant are shutdown, the officer nuke on duty is the engineering duty officer or EDO. When watches are stationed to start up the plant or when the reactor is already critical, the EOOW is stationed, and his watch occurs back aft. At no time will the EOOW leave the engineering spaces. He must have someone relieve him of the watch if he needs to have a bowel movement (there are urinals in the engineroom). The EOOW is ultimately responsible for reactor safety and ship safety back aft. Of all he does, the EOOW's duty during flooding is one of the most important, because skillfully operating the chicken switches could save the ship from a Thresher disaster.
The door to maneuvering has a chain at waist level. You open the chain but don't come in until you announce, "entering maneuving."
Your favorite reactor operator (RO) acknowledges: "Entering, aye." He holds his palm in the air, his eyes on the reactor plant control panel (RPCP). You slap him five and stand behind the RPCP and scan the gauges. Wordlessly he hands his log clipboard over his shoulder. You read the trends of the temperatures and pressures and power readings. After years of doing this, you can read the log like the expression on your girlfriend's face. The status of the reactor plant is nominal.
When something is nominal, it means (1) there is a clearly defined range of expected and safe values for this measurement and (2) the current value of the measurement is within that range. This is the same as being in spec (within specified range or in specification). It is not the same as being normal, because nothing on a submarine is normal – after all, what normal people would weld themselves into a steel pipe with 120 other sweating guys and go hundreds of feet underwater for months on end, living in the immediate vicinity of nuclear weapons and nuclear fuel? Nope, nominal is as close as things get to being normal on a submarine.
More about being nominal: For example, you could ask the question, "how's your girlfriend?" The answer might well be, "She's nominal." That means that she's within the range of expectations, but it also implies that she is not necessarily on the good side of that range: a girlfriend can – in theory, of course – be anywhere from wonderfully sweet to demonically evil, so anything in between is in spec or nominal. If the value is on the good side of the range, the answer might be different.
Submarine lexicon for a measured value being on the better end of a range of specification is: tits. For example, "how's the HF reception today, Senior Chief?" "Sir, it's tits." If it is exceptionally good, the adjective would be tits and buns. Note, this is the opposite of tits up, which means the item in question has either ceased functioning, has started to malfunction, or intermittently malfunctions or stops functioning. In such a case, the equipment would be out of commission or OOC. Anything that is OOC must be logged in the OOC book, the department head notified by being made to sign the OOC log, and its status reported daily to the captain until fixed or until the captain waives reporting requirements (at that point the item leaves the OOC list and enters the OOS or Out of Service list). A synonym for tits up is broke-dick, in which the malfunctioning of the equipment is so grievous as to be equated with the malfunctioning of an individual's genitalia. An example is the evaporator, which is frequently broke-dick and the malfunction causes loss of showers, laundry and even cooking. The actual moment in time when a piece of equipment goes tits up is when it shits the bed.
A word about how you ask how things are on a sub: never ask "how things are" – always "demand the status." If you're not hassled, ask, "what's the status of the estimated critical position?" If the captain wants it RFN (right fucking now), you ask, "What's the fuckin' status of the ECP?" Vulgarity often contains a world of meaning.
So, the possible answers to the question, "what's the status of the apparatus?" are:
At this point, it's time to review the steam plant control panel (SPCP) gauges to the left of the RPCP. You scan that log and nod at the throttleman.
On the right of the RPCP is the EPCP, or electric plant control panel. The EO (electrical operator) looks sleepy, so you punch him in the head and call for coffee. Naturally, he's grateful. Again, you scan the panel and read the EO's logs. The plant, both inside and outside maneuvering, is nominal.
You go over to the EOOW seat, an elevated barstool with a chair back, near a bookshelf/table. Above the table is a large piping schematic of the plant. Black grease pencil marks valves that are open or shut by procedure. Red marks are danger tagged valves, usually tagged shut. You review the danger tags and the EOOW log.
Next is the estimated critical position, or ECP.
Estimated critical position (ECP) is a calculation done of the amount of negative reactivity the core has due to xenon fission product poisoning in it from the last shutdown. You go into charts that show core life (the number of effective full power hours or efph already burned), the number of hours since shutdown, the pre-shutdown "power history," and all of that correlates to an amount of xenon remaining in the core. The temperature of the reactor is also taken into consideration. The charts give you a position (inches withdrawal from bottom of core) of the controlling rod group to pull to the point that the reactor is critical. The reason is that if the core is not critical within a few inches of the ECP, the OI-27 procedure requires you do certain things, like recheck the ECP or the nuclear instruments. If the nuclear instruments are malfunctioning, and you keep pulling control rods, you could take the core to prompt criticality (see Nuclear Accidents).
The controlling rod group is a number of control rods that are linked together on an inverter. For example, the outer ring of control rods would be group III. The middle ring would be group II, and the central six control rods would form group I. At a certain stage of core life, you would begin by pulling group III to the top. You'd leave group II on the bottom, and pull group I out until criticality and you would "control on group I rods," meaning core temperature would be controlled on group I. Later on in core life, group II and III would switch positions, with II on the top and III on the bottom. This evenly burns up the fuel in the core.
An inverter is an electrical device that, like a big rheostat, uses resisters to lower a DC voltage, and by doing so, creates a "stairstep" wave function of voltage in order to make an AC current. This will convert DC to AC. For a reactor control inverter that uses 3-phase AC power, the inverter will "freeze" the AC wave at a particular point.
You check the ECP and sign it off. If the Eng were onboard, he would sign it too. In some cases, the Eng would want the ECP faxed to his house, but since you are an engineer-qualified junior officer, all he wants you to do is call him and tell him about it. You check your watch – the Rolex Submariner says it is 0215. You grab the landline phone and dial the Eng's home number. You report the ECP, and sleepily Eng tells you he recommends starting the reactor.
The phone by your head whoops. "Eee-ow," you say, the pronunciation for EOOW.
"Duty Officer," the voice says. It's your roommate and stateroom-mate Kieth, who gets sloppy drunk in liberty ports but is as buttoned down as an admiral otherwise, and in fact is expected to achieve flag rank someday. "Time to call the captain. You got a recommendation?"
"Engineer recommends starting the reactor. Section three watches are manned aft. Request to start the reactor."
"Request to start the reactor, aye." He repeats it all back formally. "Wait one."
"Wait one, aye."
Kieth may be your roommate onboard and ashore, and you know what he's thinking before he does, but you still go through all the formalities.
While you're waiting, you review the procedure. The operating instructions are in a 5" thick binder. The paper itself is an engineering marvel – made of the same filmy plastic Tyvek stuff that FEDEX uses for their large envelopes. You open it up to OI-27 and scan a few paragraphs, the words as familiar to you as a dogeared section of the bible is to a minister.
The phone whoops again. "Eee-ow."
"Duty Officer. Start the reactor."
"Start the reactor, aye," you say and hang up.
You pull the 2MC microphone out of its cradle in the overhead, click the button and listen as your voice – like the voice of God – booms through the engineering spaces, the volume cranked up to be heard over the scream of the turbines, and even louder sounding since the ship is quiet as a tomb with everything shutdown. "Engineering Watch Supervisor…come to maneuvering."
You stand up and pull the chain off your neck where the reactor safety key is kept and use it to unlock a drawer below the bottom shelf of the bookcase. Inside are three fuses, each the size of a flashlight. You relock the drawer and put the key back around your neck. The EWS stands at the chain at the door by the throttleman.
"Request to enter maneuvering."
"Enter maneuvering." You hand the EWS the fuses and address him formally. "Engineering Watch Supervisor, place fuses in inverter cabinets alpha, bravo and charlie and shut scram breakers."
"Place fuses in A, B and C and shut scram breakers, aye." He disappears forward for a few minutes. You make an entry in the EOOW log, then look up as the EWS returns. "Request to enter."
"Sir, fuses placed in inverters alpha, bravo and charlie. Scram breakers alpha, bravo and charlie are shut."
"Very well, Chief, thank you and have a good startup."
The chief whacks the reactor operator on the head. "Watch this guy, sir. No screwups on my watch."
The RO utters an expletive without taking his eyes off the RPCP. You take station standing behind the RO where you can see the entire panel. You make another entry in the EOOW log: Commencing normal reactor startup.
"Reactor Operator, conduct normal reactor startup."
"Conduct normal reactor startup, aye."
You grab the 2MC microphone and announce, "Commencing normal reactor startup."
The RO stands and grabs a main coolant pump starter on the port side. "Starting main coolant pump four in slow speed." He pulls up on the T-switch, and the pump starts – the indicating lights come up, and the pressure indicators on the panel jump. "Starting main coolant pump three in slow speed." He starts another pump. There are now two pumps running in slow speed in each coolant loop, up from the previous one pump per loop configuration. "Running two slow/two slow pumps, sir."
"Latching group three rods," the RO announces. He takes a selector switch marked INVERTER and puts it on the "C" position, then takes the pistol grip of the rod control switch at the center of the lower sloping section (it's right in the center of a little reactor plastic shape) and pushes it from the twelve o'clock position to the nine o'clock position. At the same time he pulls the pistol grip about two inches out of the panel. "Applying latch voltage to inverter charlie." You look at the latch voltage display, which doubles as latch current from inverter charlie flows to the alligator assemblies of the control rod drive mechanisms for group III rods. Previously, the alligator assemblies were open, but when latch voltage was applied by pulling out on the rod switch, the electromagnets in each alligator assembly energized, and the assemblies all clamped down on the threaded section of the rod bars. To make sure the alligator thread engages the rod thread, the RO drives the rods in – rods are already at the bottom, but by doing this he turns the alligator assemblies until they engage the threading.
"Group three rods latched."
"Withdrawing group three rods to top-of-core," he announces. He stands up and rotates the pistol grip to the right. It takes quiet a bit of strength to pull rods out, but none at all to push them in. This is deliberate – Admiral Rickover wanted the RO to know when he was increasing reactor power. During a long startup, the RO's hands shake as he pulls the rods. The rod control lever will always return to the "hold" or neutral position when the RO's hands are not on it.
You won't go critical on group III unless something is very wrong, but you watch the panel like a hawk.
"Group three rod bottom lights out," the RO says.
The outer ring of rod bottom lights winks out as the rods come off the bottom of the core. The digital counter climbs as the rod group comes higher, reeling off until the group climbs to 20 inches, then 30, 35, until the rod group is to the top. Meanwhile, you watch the neutron level deep in the startup range and the startup rate meter. Nothing much happens to either gauge. If you had been shutdown for a long time, with neutron level so low that it is essentially unreadable (in the fiduciary range) you would have had to conduct a miserable "pull and wait" startup. Instead of pulling the rods out of the core, the RO would pull out for three seconds and you'd wait for 57 while watching the power level. Then repeat this for the next five hours until the power level comes back on the scale of the meter. The RO lets go of the rod lever with the group at the top of the core.
"Latching group two," the RO says. He switches the inverter switch to "B" and puts the switch to the nine o'clock position while pulling it out of the console. "Applying latch voltage to group two. Group two rods latched."
"Very well." Group II will remain at the bottom of the core, but it is latched so that in case of shock the rods won't jump up and cause a power spike.
"Latching group one." He selects the inverter switch to "A" and repeats the latch procedure. "Pulling group one to criticality."
You sharpen your gaze on the neutron level and startup rate.
"Group one rod bottom lights out."
As the group one rods come out of the core, the startup rate needle budges off the zero indication, to plus .2 decades per minute. The RO keeps pulling until the needle shows 1 decade per minute, then he lets go of the lever. The startup rate decays to zero. He pulls again, and startup rate slowly climbs to 1 decade per minute. The neutron level needle slowly moves upward, unwinding around the dial, every few minutes changing by a decade (going from 10-9 to 10-8, then 10-7 and upward). Finally, when at a 1 decade per minute startup rate, the RO puts the rod control switch to neutral, the startup rate decays to a nonzero level, steady at plus .3 decades per minute.
"The reactor is critical," he announces, taking his log sheet and making a notation. The ECP predicted this would happen at 24.0 inches. The actual position is 23.7. Not bad.
You pick up the 1MC microphone, near the 2MC. This one announces to the entire ship.
"The reactor," you pause for dramatic effect, "is critical!" Another log entry, and the startup continues.
"Pulling group one to the power range," the RO says, and grabs the rod control switch again, and takes her to a plus one decade per minute startup rate. The neutron level climbs slowly to the top of the startup range. The intermediate range needle also starts to climb, the two ranges intersecting for two decades. "Source range channel selector switch to startup rate scram cutout," he says as he rotates a large switch on the panel.
"Very well," you acknowledge. At this point the startup range nuclear instrument is de-energized by the source range channel selector switch. If the delicate neutron detector were energized much longer, the bombardment of neutrons would make it fail. At this point, there is no automatic scram coming from the startup range meter. Protection is now provided by the level of the startup rate meter for the intermediate range. If it goes to plus 9 decades per minute, the reactor will scram.
Now the core is reactive enough that the RO can pull rods to a plus 1.5 decade per minute startup rate, and when he lets go, startup rate decays to 1.0 decades per minute. She's waking up by herself now, and you just watch as minute by minute the reactor comes humming out of the lower level of the intermediate range. At the top of the intermediate level is the power range. In the power range, the core has the ability to raise coolant temperature.
Near the top of the intermediate range, the startup rate declines on its own to zero. The reactor operator pulls out for a few seconds (this is called "shimming out") and watches the panel.
"Reactor is in the power range," he calls. You repeat the announcement on the 2MC. "Heating up main coolant to the green band," he announces.
Now that the core is in the power range, raising the control rods raises reactor power, which heats up the coolant. Average coolant temperature, or TAVE, pronounced "Tee-av," is currenly 360° Fahrenheit.
TAVE is the average of main coolant temperature entering the core and leaving the core. If TIN = 460°F and TOUT = 500°F, then TAVE = 480°F. TAVE must always be in the green band, which is from 475° to 485°F. The reason for this is that all studies of reactor safety begin with the assumption that TAVE is in the green band. If you operate outside of it, then the warranty is off. When TAVE comes out of the green band, the reactor operator shims rods in or out to lower or raise TAVE (remember, in the power range, reactor power follows steam demand, so it is the throttleman who determines reactor power by how much he opens the throttles – all the control rods do is supply excess power to the core to change TAVE).
"Establishing five degree per minute heatup rate," he says, putting a graph on top of his log clipboard. Until the main coolant temperature is in the green band, heatup rate will be no more than five degrees per minute. Since starting temperature is relatively warm at 360°F, we can heatup this fast. If it were low, we would be limited to a degree per minute, and the startup would take much longer.
For the next thirty minutes the RO heats up the core. The TAVE needle slowly climbs. The power level meter shows between zero and 5% as he heats up.
"Tee-av is in the green band, sir," he reports.
"Very well." You pick up the 2MC. "Engineering Watch Supervisor, come to maneuvering."
The EWS requests to enter and you wave him in. The two of you glance at the RPCP, then you tell him to start the steam plant: "Engineering Watch Supervisor, equalize around and open main steam one and two, bring steam into the engineroom, warm up the main steam headers, pull a vacuum on port and starboard main condensers and start port and starboard SSTGs and warm up port and starboard main engines."
For once the EWS does not repeat back the order exactly. This exception to the rule is a tradition. "Suck two, spin four, aye."
He disappears to go up forward. While you wait, you know that he and the engineroom upper level watch are opening valves that will allow steam from the boilers to go around the big bulkhead stop valves, MS-1 and MS-2. This will lower the differential pressure (DP) across the valves and make them easier to open. When DP is less than 50 psi, the EWS and ERUL will start cranking MS-1 and –2 open, which takes a good five minutes each.
"MS-2 indicates open," the RO says. A light on his panel has changed from a bar to an "O." After a few more minutes he announces that MS-1 is open.
The noise begins. The steam header begins to warm up, and the water inside it from condensation is blown out by steam pressure. That roaring noise you hear is the EWS and ERUL "blowing down" the steam traps, which are devices that keep condensate – water drops – out of the steam headers. After ten minutes of blowing down the headers, the EWS goes below to help the ERLL watch take a vacuum on the condensers. They start the port and starboard main seawater pumps, get the condensers cool, then use steam pressure from the auxiliary steam system to suck down the condensers to a vacuum. The condensation of steam to liquid causes the vacuum, because steam takes up a lot of volume and liquid a lot less, so the shrinking of the condensation process makes the condensers a vacuum, but the cycle starts with a lot of air in the pipes, and air will not condense. The air ejectors are devices with venturi tubes, and steam is blown through the venturis to cause low pressure, which sucks the air out of the condenser and puts it into the engineroom. The air ejectors are what would make the engineroom radioactive if you were using a boiling water reactor. Or if you have a primary-to-secondary leak.
Soon the EWS is back in engineroom upper level, and he begins to spin the port SSTG. You can hear the turbine start to roll. At first it rumbles, then growls, then moans, then screams like a jet, the noise rising to a screech and finally a howl until the pitch comes up to a shrill whistle.
The EWS appears at the door. "Port TG on the governor and ready for loading."
It's time to shift the electric plant. "Electrical Operator," you say, "Shift the electric plant to a half-power lineup on the port TG."
The electrical operator acknowledges, then lines up his synchroscope to the port SSTG breaker. He will monitor voltage and frequency on the SSTG side of the breaker against the nonvital bus side, which is supplied by shorepower. The two buses must be synchronized. This means the AC current that rises and falls must be at the same point of the cycle on each side of the breaker. A meter compares the frequencies of the AC power on either side, and the needle rotates slowly in the "fast" direction, with the frequency higher on the SSTG end so when it suddenly takes load, it will slow down slightly. When the needle gets to the twelve o-clock position, the EO rotates his breaker control switch, and the SSTG breaker shuts. He uses a voltage dial to "take load" on the SSTG and unload shorepower.
"The electric plant's in a half-power lineup on the port SSTG," he reports.
You announce it on the 2MC. The EWS has disappeared to the lower level to start a main feed pump. The steam generator levels have been dropping since he opened up MS-1 and MS-2. You hear the pump start, and steam generator water level indications on the steam plant control panel rise back up to the normal level.
Soon the EWS starts the starboard turbine, and reports it ready for loading. After similar actions at the electric plant control panel (EPCP), the EO reports the plant is in a normal full power lineup.
You order the EO to open the shorepower breaker.
"Engineering Watch Supervisor," you order, "remove the shorepower cables."
He and an electrician will climb into the access hatch for shorepower and disconnect the heavy cable connectors. The cables are too heavy to remove by hand – it will take a crane to get them off the hull. When he's done, you dial up the duty officer and report the ship divorced from shore power and request permission to spin the shaft as necessary to keep the main engines warm. He gives permission.
The EWS starts the main engine turbines, and turns control of them over to the throttleman. For the next eight hours, the throttleman will crack open the throttles every few minutes to keep the main engines warm. Since the clutch is engaged, this spins the shaft and turns the screw a half turn, but this is acceptable as it won't put much stress on the lines holding the ship to the pier.
You're done. The reactor is now at about 18% power with TAVE in the green band at 480°F. Nothing to do now but wait for your relief to take over from you so you can go to officers' call and then go to the bridge to drive her out.
You yawn and take a cup of coffee from the engineroom upper level watch.
MORE! On EMERGENCY DEEP
First in an electrifying new series from “A MASTER RIVALING TOM CLANCY.”
U.S. Navy submarine commander Peter Vornado is at the top of his game in underwater warfare when a devastating illness takes him out of the service and almost to the grave. Without duty, honor, or something to fight for, his life is as good as over.
But the CIA needs a man like Vornado…
A terrorist cabal has acquired a scrapped Soviet sub from the Cold War -- a technologically advanced failure still able to outrun any torpedo or enemy vessel and strike at will. With a nuclear payload, it will enable them to strike directly at Israeland throw the world into chaos. All that remains is to modernize the sub with the latest technology.
Only one man can infiltrate the group, take the helm, and stop a holocaust -- a man who has already stared down death, and is ready to do battle once more…
“Compelling and visionary. DiMercurio’s characters run as deep as his submarines themselves!”
--Joe Buff, author of Crush Depth and Thunder in the Deep
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