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Thomas Canter

Back in 1980 or so, I attended the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Training and in January, after nearly two years of training, I was stationed on the USS Bremerton (SSN 698) and after another year of training finally got my dolphins.

During the course of training, one would be frequently asked seemingly inane questions about some trivial feature or object on the system that you were studying.

One example asked of me while I was studying at S1W in INEL was “Where is the red, white and blue valve?”. After weeks of searching, I finally found the valve, and here was my answer “Just forward of the Reactor Upper room, there is an entry into the Auxiliary Machinery Mezzanine. As you step through the entry going forward, there is a plate embedded in the floor. If you lift that plate, under it is another plate attached to a retention chain. Once you lift the second plate, the red, white and blue value is actually just aft of the opening.” At that point the person would sign off my “qual card” for the area I was actually examining for.

What was the point here? As it was explained to me, the training was not just to get you to memorize tons of information about the reactor, the auxiliary systems and operations. It was to get you to “learn it yourself”. An attempt to get you to actually dig into the books, crawl into every nook and cranny and find out what and where this information was.

Where did the term “ooly” (sometimes uli and ooley) come from? As was told that on the original drawings for S1W, the “Reactor Fresh Water Coolers” on one plan was misspelled “Reactor Fresh Water oolers” and to prove that you had actually read, and deeply understand the plan, the question at that time was “Where are the oolers and what do they do?”.

Thus the phrase “ooly” became the technical term for a deep detail about something that took a lot of research to dig out.

Posted on Saturday, September 10, 2011 9:33 AM | Back to top


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