September 29, 2014
AIKEN, S.C. – Newly commissioned United States Naval Officer Ensign Whitney Tharp credits her experience with Savannah River Remediation (SRR) for sparking her nuclear career interest.
Tharp spent three summers as an SRR intern in H Tank Farm and Saltstone at the Savannah River Site. She then graduated in December 2013 from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering and Minor in Nuclear Engineering. In June 2013, Tharp was sworn into the Navy and aspired to be assigned to a submarine.
Since no positions were available to females on a nuclear submarine at the time, Tharp would begin as a surface nuclear officer on an aircraft carrier. Then, she received a phone call that would make a dream become reality.
"A month after I was sworn in, I received an interview in Washington, D.C., with ¹Admiral Richardson for a position on a submarine," said Tharp. "After I told him about my internship with SRR, and my desire to be on a boat, he replied, 'We'll give you a shot.' That was one of the happiest moments of my life."
Post training, Tharp will be the first female engineer on a nuclear submarine from the state of South Carolina.
During Tharp's internship in H Tank Farm, a co-worker gave her an interest in the Navy. It wasn't until her time in Saltstone that she discovered the Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate (NUPOC) program during conversation with several of her Navy veteran co-workers.
"What impressed me was their enthusiasm, leadership, presence and comradery, and I wanted that kind of confidence," said Tharp. "That 'get-it-done' attitude they had was contagious so I sought out a career in the Navy."
¹Admiral Richardson pre-screens all Nuclear Engineers before accepting them into the Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate (NUPOC) program.
Tharp is now attending Nuclear Naval Power School in Charleston, S.C. After graduation, she will attend Nuclear Power Training Unit, Submarine Officer Basic Course and then will report to her first submarine.
"One of the most important lessons I learned at SRR is to work as a team to get the job done," said Tharp. "This lesson spills over into my career in the Navy - 'one team, one fight.' – there's no room for individuals or selfishness."
SRR is the liquid waste contractor at the Savannah River Site, which is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy. SRR is comprised of a team of companies led by URS Corporate with partners Bechtel National, CH2M HILL and Babcock & Wilcox. Critical subcontractors for the contract are AREVA, EnergySolutions and URS Professional Solutions.
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