Our Guiding Principles are our “load bearing walls” that carry the weight of our vision from the bedrock of our mission. They are the rules that govern the outcomes or consequences of choices. The Command Guiding Principles as well as the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program Principles establish consistent boundaries and guidance that will endure while the focus area pillars may vary over time.



Conservatism in design and operation - Anticipate what may go wrong in the worst case scenario. Establish safety margin by not operating near limits.


Strong central technical control - Technical control centered at Naval Reactors ensures high standards and facilitates a consistent approach to nuclear work worldwide. This also ensures consideration of historical lessons and consistency in future plans and decision making.


Verbatim compliance with approved technical procedures - Verbatim compliance is the foundation for consistently and predictably executing nuclear work. If processes or procedures cannot be followed, are wrong, or create safety problems – STOP, document the problem, and get the process or procedure evaluated/changed.


Not “living with” deficiencies - Have a questioning attitude and take ownership for resolving concerns. If something seems incorrect or out of place, investigate it and raise the question to supervision. Minor problems left to accumulate can have significant consequences and make it harder to identify major problems.


Formal documentation and communication - When important decisions are not documented, one becomes dependent on individual memory, which is quickly lost as people leave or move to other jobs. Documentation minimizes the risk of repeating past mistakes and maintains alignment within and between organizations. Nuclear work is directed by formal, written instructions.


Selection, training, and qualification of the best people, dedicated to excellence - Competent, committed, and experienced people are essential to our success. Seek out the best people, provide them with high quality training, and instill in them a dedication to achieve excellent results.


Thorough involvement and review by senior personnel - Effective personal engagement by senior personnel provides forceful backup and the benefit of experience. Additionally, it demonstrates the importance of the task/ event at hand.

No management system can substitute for hard work - Human experience shows that people, not organizations or management systems, get things done. Nothing worthwhile can be accomplished without determination and hard work.

Frequent, thorough, and detailed inspections and audits - Even the most self-critical organization may
miss deficiencies and performance problems from time to time. Independent inspections eliminate blind spots and reveal areas that require improvement and growth.

Enforcement of standards - Apply continuous energy to ensure performance is always up to a high standard, otherwise performance and standards tend to decline. Standards must be set high to ensure performance doesn’t fall below minimum requirements when mistakes are made.


Responsibility is a unique concept - Individuals feel the weight of responsibility for their work. Shared responsibility results in no one being responsible. Unless the one person who is responsible can be identified when something goes wrong, then no one has really been responsible.


Attention to detail - It is hard and tedious to pay attention to seemingly minor matters but when the details
are ignored, the project fails. No infusion of policy or lofty ideals can then correct the situation. If the person in charge doesn’t consider the details to be important, neither will the subordinates.


Face facts brutally - It is a human inclination to hope things will work out. Face the facts objectively and
make the necessary changes to achieve the desired outcome.

If you can’t write it down, you don’t understand it - It is easy to overlook important details in verbal discussion. Writing down the plan brings to light missing details or weak arguments and increases the likelihood of success. If you don’t understand the plan well enough to write it down, you are bound to have unforeseen problems.

Completed staff work - All of the questions have been considered and answered. This is the result of thorough research of the requirements and hard work on the part of the person assigned a specific task. The staff work is done when all that remains is for the supervisor to indicate their approval or disapproval.