Surface Warfare Officers School Command (SWOSCOLCOM)
Building 446 and 1268
446 Cushing Road
The Surface Warfare Officers School Command is the “Center for Excellence” for surface warfare where officers and senior enlisted leaders sharpen their leadership, management and professional skills throughout their career. The SWOS mission is to provide a continuum of professional education and training that prepares officers, enlisted engineers and quartermasters to serve at sea. The guiding principles of SWOS professional development are to acquire perspective for sea duty assignments that culminate in command at sea. The hallmark of the surface warfare community is the regularity with which it receives professional military education at major milestones of a surface warfare officer’s career. The purpose of this training continuum is to keep the leadership abreast of traditional roles and responsibilities but also to instruct in the latest changes to the geopolitical and operational environment. What follows is a brief synopsis of the major training directorates at SWOS Command and within the larger SWOS domain.
The journey begins with the introductory basic and advanced division officer courses that culminate in the creation of the division officer and officer of the deck. The basic division officer course is an eight-week course of instruction designed to provide the foundational training for new division officers to succeed when they first step foot aboard ship. The course offers instruction in division-level administration, engineering, leadership and damage control. It also offers practical instruction in navigation, seamanship and ship-handling. The advanced division officer course differs slightly in that it reinforces the concepts of the basic course and couples it with fleet experience after some time aboard ship. More classroom and simulator time is spent developing the consummate professional officer of the deck and prepares the division officer for advanced qualifications in naval warfare and engineering.
A recent development to the division officer course occurred with the introduction of the littoral combat ship that requires a unique training model. Legacy instruction at SWOS mimics the undergraduate and graduate academic worlds of lecture, self-study and testing. With the introduction of the littoral combat ship to the fleet a new model of “Train to Qualify” (known as T2Q) emerged. This process utilizes off-hull training environments and simulation to enhance the knowledge, skills and abilities required to perform tasks within a specific watch station or position. Taking best practices from naval aviation and civilian maritime industry, T2Q capitalizes on delivery of individual ready-to-operate, high-cost, high-risk systems with little margin for error such as the littoral combat ship. Littoral combat ship simulators at SWOS replicate the bridge environment, including precise placement of controls and seating. It teaches the student to handle the ship and to build muscle memory as the officer of the deck of a littoral combat ship must be able to handle the ship without the backup of a large and often more qualified bridge team.
Officers selected for department head return to SWOS for the flagship course in maritime warfare hosted by the N73 Directorate. The department head course is also the most demanding and professionally rewarding course a surface warfare officer receives throughout their career. This 27-week course prepares officers for duty as engineering, combat systems, weapons, operations and deck department heads aboard all classes of Navy ships. Among the topics of instruction are information operations, air and missile defense, surface warfare, undersea warfare and expeditionary warfare. In addition to academic studies, students participate in multi-mission tactical trainers where they demonstrate their proficiency as a tactical action officer. There are two modules to successfully complete before matriculating, tactical action officer and operations, readiness, training and engineering. The specifics of each student’s follow-on assignment are discussed as a capstone to the event.
Following successful tours as a department head, those selected for early command, commander command and major command return yet again for specialized courses of instruction through the N75 Command at the Sea Training Directorate that prepares prospective commanding officers and prospective executive officers to successfully command surface ships. A part of their specialized training includes instruction in assessment, improvement and monitoring of ship material readiness through a dedicated senior officer ship material readiness course provided by the N76 Directorate.
SWOS has expanded its world-class professional military education to instruct a growing list of naval partners throughout the world. International SWOS trains foreign naval surface warriors in all aspects of naval operations from damage control to coalition operations. The curriculum mimics the division officer and department head courses of instruction offered by the N72 Fleet Training and N73 Maritime Warfare directorates. During their time at SWOS, the international students are immersed in American culture, tour historic sites and build relationships with their U.S. counterparts.
SWOS Command sharpens the leadership, management and professional skills of surface warriors throughout their career by providing a continuum of military education and training so that they may serve at sea. The command does this through traditional classroom-based instruction, practical exercises and simulation. There is constant revision and tailoring to meet the needs of the fleet, geopolitical and operational environments. The command has expanded this opportunity and extends it to naval partners worldwide in the spirit of cooperation. Officers and senior enlisted who complete the courses of instruction are ready for today’s challenges at sea.