Submarine Officer


Job Description

Submarine Officers command, manage, and operate the Fleet’s attack, ballistic missile, and guided missile submarines that patrol the world’s oceans, monitoring hostile enemy actions, intercepting electronic communications, and gathering information. These submarines are the most important deterrents the United States has at its disposal. Submarine Officers have the immense task of ensuring that all systems run smoothly, from atmosphere control and nuclear propulsion systems to fire control and weapons systems. A small group of disciplined and committed Officers are in charge of an entire crew and some of the most technologically advanced equipment in the world. If you possess the exacting standards necessary to lead a submarine crew and operate multimillion-dollar equipment, accelerate your life as a Submarine Officer.

What Will You Do?

Submarines, their Officers, and their crews are heavily relied upon for antisubmarine warfare, antisurface warfare, land attack, strategic deterrence, and landing Special Warfare forces, to name but a few of the many exciting missions. Standards for submariners are very high, and operations are often covert and classified. During a sea tour, Submarine Officers may be in charge of any number of tasks, including the safe operation of the nuclear reactor; maintaining the ship’s torpedoes, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and sonar; charting the ship’s position; and operating communications and intelligence equipment. As a Submarine Officer, you will be specially trained in the nuclear field and assigned to a nuclear-powered attack submarine, fleet ballistic missile submarine, or guided missile submarine.

  • Attack Submarines: Designed to pursue and attack enemy surface ships and submarines. They are the most effective antisubmarine warfare tool available to counter enemy diesel- and nuclear-powered submarines. They also conduct many other missions, such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
  • Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines: These submarines are almost two football fields long and carry long-range missiles. With their nuclear reactors and stealth, they are always ready should a situation arise needing their firepower.
  • Guided Missile Submarines: High-payload submarines armed with tactical missiles and the ability to employ Special Operations Forces in support of Naval and joint operations.

Skills and Training

After completion of the NROTC program, Submarine Officers then begin training at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command (NNPTC) in Charleston, South Carolina. This 24-week course helps students understand the complex nature of nuclear propulsion through a broad background on theory and operations mechanics. Once you’ve successfully completed NNPTC, you’ll begin training at a Nuclear Power Training Unit for real-life work on an actual operating reactor. Nuclear-Trained Submarine Officers then attend the Submarine Officer Basic Course, a 12-week course that will familiarize you with submarine safety and operations and all of the necessary aspects of submarine life as an Officer. On your first submarine you’ll work at all junior watch stations and eventually assume the role of Officer of the Deck, responsible for the entire submarine.

Earn While You Learn

The Navy provides the most comprehensive training available in the nuclear field. Nuclear training includes college-level classes in physics, chemistry, mathematics, electrical engineering, and thermodynamics. As a Submarine Officer, nuclear engineering training is available in nuclear power plant design, construction, instrumentation, and operation. The Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, is also an attractive tour-of-duty option, which allows you to earn a master’s or doctoral degree while being paid full-time as an Officer in the Navy.

Special Pay/Bonuses

As a nuclear-trained Officer, you’ll benefit from some of the most rigorous training the Navy has to offer. Your hard work is not only rewarded with an excellent salary, but you’ll also receive generous bonuses. Submariners also earn their own special pay because of the unique conditions of their service.


Active duty obligation for NROTC graduates is 4 years. An additional year of active duty obligation is incurred due to naval nuclear propulsion training IAW MILPERSMAN 1520-050.

Career Outlook

Training as a Submarine Officer directly translates to civilian careers in executive-level management, as well as the technology industry and high-tech specialty systems. The specialized knowledge and expertise you could gain through Navy nuclear training will provide you with a skill set that is sought after worldwide. You will gain important insights from your international travels, which will be invaluable to employers in the private sector.