US Navy---Path to ship's captain

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by kwajmahall, Jan 23, 2017.

  1. kwajmahall

    kwajmahall New Member

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    Please forgive me if any of my terminology is incorrect.

    Being a captain of a ship---especially a large one---is a great responsibility. It's my understanding that the captain is responsible for all personnel, all departments, and the overall safety and performance of his ship.

    So say when a young ensign graduates---are they assigned a permanent career job specialty? Or does his specialty depend on his assignment? Do they receive training for all different things or is it all OJT-type training?

    It seems logical to me that a ship's captain would, over the course of his career, would be given at least a small amount of experience in all departments aboard a ship. Example---"Before I was given the ship's command off USS D, I was the navigation officer on USS A. I was the weapons officer on USS B. I was a power-plant officer on USS C.", etc.

    Does this make any sense? Thank you in advance.
     
  2. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 5-Year Member

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    A commanding officer of a Navy commissioned ship is called the captain, regardless of actual rank. Just something fun to keep in mind. Different size ships have COs of various ranks.

    It is indeed a progressive path to command, usually coupled with a sea duty-shore duty rotation. Each shipboard assignment brings successively more responsibility for people, resources and mission share. At more junior levels, officers may rotate to positions in different shipboard departments. They may start out in Engineering during that first tour, rotate to Operations, and so on. Meanwhile, they are also working on their Surface Warfare Officer professional qualifications, which gets them familiar with the systems, gear and capabilities of the ship. This leads to eventual qualification as a SWO and the ability to wear the gold SWO pin. There are also shore schools which officers attend to learn specifics of certain jobs or systems. It's OJT and schoolhouse.

    Rough cut at answering your core question.

    There is a lot of public domain info on line. Google "Navy Surface Warfare Officer career."
    http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-n...are/Documents/SWO_CAREER_CHART_FACT_SHEET.pdf
     
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  3. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 5-Year Member

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    And yes...a CO is ultimately responsible and accountable for her or his command.
     
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  4. kwajmahall

    kwajmahall New Member

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    Thank you CaptMJ---I never could find the right terminology to find what I was looking for in all of my previous searches. My background in the USMC---so forgive me. :)

    I imagine the SWO program is very competitive? After Marine OCS, the most competitive slots are for the infantry, as that is what leads to general.
     
  5. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 5-Year Member

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    Google "Navy officer careers," the navy.com official recruiting site, for overviews of Navy officer communities.

    It's all competitive the higher up you go. SWO is sometimes seen as less competitive than other communities out of commissioning sources, only because there are quotas for aviation, EOD, SEAL, etc. Once in the Fleet, you are definitely competing against your peers.
     
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  6. SamAca10

    SamAca10 5-Year Member

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    I've met a lot of people in the Coast Guard who had originally considered the Naval Academy, but chose the USCG because of the command opportunities available at the junior level. What's the Navy's perception of O2 or O3 CO's Capt MJ?
     
  7. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012 5-Year Member

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    The only places those command opportunities arise for SWOs are in paths outside of the norm (Patrol Craft, etc). The youngest "traditional" CO is minesweeper, which happens at LCDR. I'll defer to Capt MJ for the actual gouge, but the implication I got from my peers who are SWOs is that those tours aren't necessarily great because they take guys out of the main SWO effort of CRUDES (or even amphibs, though that's a whole different thing).
    Big Navy would rather have guys learn at the Division Officer through Department Head how to employ bigger ships integrated into a task force than go command a small boat that's off doing its own thing. Whether that's really the best thing is up for debate.
     
  8. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 5-Year Member

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    I think that's one of the best things about USCG, that early command option. It's a matter of ship type, size and numbers. The Navy has a handful of O-3 and O-4 ship commands, and going to a command sea tour at the more junior rank means swapping out a more traditional tour on a larger ship. The key is performance. We have a USNA alumni sponsor daughter who had O-4 command of a minesweeper, and is now a destroyer CO as a CDR (O-5). Worked for her.

    If the Navy had WWII PT boats again, no doubt we would have an O-2 or O-3 in command.
     

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