Written by Mark
The school at Groton, CT (often called "Sub School”) is officially Basic Enlisted Submarine School (BESS). It typically lasts 7-8 weeks, six of which is actual schooling. BESS covers some crucial topics, namely fire-fighting and combating flooding. Enlisted nukes receive that specific training shortly after reporting to their first boat, but don't go to Groton for it, unless their boat is home-ported there. Each submarine base has a training department for that sort of training. Most of BESS is a very basic overview of submarine systems, which any nuke who has successfully completed prototype training will breeze through and readily pick up in the submarine qualification process.
The so-called ‘technical’ submarine ratings receive their A-school training after BESS, and can last up to eight months. These include:
Since all those A-schools (except Missile Tech C-school) are also in Groton, many folks mistakenly assume they are part of BESS.
‘Non-technical’ submarine ratings, such as yeomen, logistics specialists, and culinary specialists, complete their A-schools before going to Groton. They attend BESS alongside their technical-rated shipmates and report to a boat upon its completion.
“Nucs” or “Nukes” (those who operate the reactor and propulsion plant) comprise about one-third of a submarine's enlisted crew and never attend BESS. They report to a boat after completing A-school and nuclear power school (both in Goose Creek, SC); then plant prototype training in either Goose Creek or Ballston Spa, NY.
Officers also go to a sub school exclusively for them (there's both a basic and an advanced), abbreviated as SOBC, and SOAC respectively. After completing the officer side of the nuclear pipeline, they apparently find the basic course to be a nice vacation prior to reporting to their first boat. The main reason officers, but no enlisted nukes attend a separate sub school is because they must receive an introduction to the unique ship-handling issues of a submarine - since only officers ever "have the conn," or give orders to "drive" the boat.
Attaining dolphins (qualifying on submarines), contrary to popularly held belief does not qualify a submariner to do everything on a boat. Modern day submarines are too complex for that - the enlisted submarine qual simply means they have the "broad strokes."
“Classing up” is the process of waiting for enough personnel to arrive at a training site, so that a minimum required class size is met and schooling can begin.