Home » News & Analysis » Ensigns Complete Junior Officer of the Deck Pilot Course to Increase Shiphandling Skills

Ensigns Complete Junior Officer of the Deck Pilot Course to Increase Shiphandling Skills

Capt. Scott Robertson, commander of Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS), poses with the first 12 ensigns to complete the first pilot Junior Officer of the Deck (JOOD) Course. The initial pilot course was designed to build upon the foundational shiphandling skills students learned at the basic Division Officer Course, placing the junior officers in realistic navigation environments they could expect to find themselves in at sea. US Navy photo.

Twelve ensigns completed a pilot Junior Officer of the Deck (JOOD) Course launched in the aftermath of several high-profile surface navy collisions this year and a Comprehensive Review that highlighted the need for additional navigation training.

The ensigns completed this new three-week course on Dec. 15 at Surface Warfare Officer Schools (SWOS) Command in Newport, Rhode Island. The course followed their Basic Division Officer Course, where students learned basic shiphandling skills, and allowed the ensigns to practice those fundamentals as part of a watch team in the SWOS shiphandling simulators before reporting to their first ship.

In the second and third weeks of the course, the students spent two hours in a classroom going over case studies – including the fatal USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) collisions this year – and then spending six hours in simulators in navigation environments they could potentially see in their first deployments.

Staffs from Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC); Naval Surface Force Atlantic (SURFLANT); and Surface Warfare Officer School (SWOS) worked together to develop the course, SURFPAC spokesman Cmdr. John Perkins told USNI News today.

The classroom portion of the JOOD course covered extremis extraction scenarios, weather, tides and currents, navigation aids, rules of the road, the importance of using the Automatic Identification System, the six principles of bridge watchstanding and other basics, Perkins said.

“The classroom portions were further enhanced through 50 hours of hands-on training in the shiphandling simulators. The course progressively moved students from simple ship evolutions to more complex and stressful maritime scenarios through an extended series of ‘reps and sets’ in the simulators,” he said.
“The ensigns started with instructor-led special evolutions focused on individual conning skills, then transitioned to contact management scenarios in benign conditions with student-led bridge teams. As the officers developed proficiency and confidence, more complex scenarios were introduced – including restricted waters transits, heavy traffic density in reduced visibility, and close quarters collision avoidance.”

“I really appreciated the difficult scenarios,” Ensign Liesl Sylvester, who is reporting to USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108), said in a Navy news release.
“Having the opportunity to practice getting out of difficult situations in the simulators after the classroom discussion was one of the best parts of the course.”

The 12 ensigns who participated in the pilot course were selected to represent a diverse group of new officers, Perkins said. The group of ensigns included those who had recently completed their Basic Division Officer Course in both San Diego and in Norfolk, and those who were commissioned through the U.S. Naval Academy, Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and Officer Candidate School (OCS). This diversity of background was meant to help identify if one group was more or less prepared for the course and the challenges they would face during this more advanced shiphandling training.

The three-week JOOD course is expected to evolve based on student and fleet feedback in early 2018. By mid-2018 it should become a four-week course, and by late 2018 it will be taught in San Diego and Norfolk instead of in Rhode Island. Eventually it will become a six-week course that also includes International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW); Automatic Radar Plotting Aids (ARPA); and Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) courses of instruction, according to the news release.

“I am very pleased with the outcome of the JOOD Pilot Course. Over the last three weeks, we immersed these twelve ensigns in our shiphandling simulators – gradually taking them from basic to more complex contact management scenarios. We saw an increase in not only ship driving proficiency, but also in the officers’ confidence as they developed the individual and team skills to deal with more challenging scenarios,” Capt. Scott Robertson, commanding officer of SWOS, said in the news release.
“While our work here at SWOS is far from done, I’m very optimistic with the results of the JOOD Pilot. There are certainly things we need to work on to make the final version of this course even more effective. We will follow these 12 ensigns in the Fleet and look for feedback from their commanding officers about their performance on the bridge compared to their contemporaries who did not have the benefit of this new training.”

Perkins said SWOS is now working with fleet concentration areas to identify what local facilities and simulators are available to teach the course in the second half of 2018.

U.S. Fleet Forces Command commander Adm. Phil Davidson, who led the comprehensive review of surface force readiness after the Fitzgerald and McCain crashes, said at an all-hands call in Norfolk last month that his team found sailors were deficient in two key fundamental areas: “the actual application of the rules of the road, COLREGS, what to do, when to do it; both in planning, preparing and executing in the heat of the moment,” and in team cohesion. The JOOD course’s structure could help address both, since it focuses on fundamental operations in a watch team environment in the simulators.

Davidson said at the all-hands call that he wanted more – and more rigorous – formal training and assessments at each step along a surface warfare officer’s career progression, and that the Navy would likely make an investment in additional simulators at SWOS and at the waterfront.

  • kye154

    Well, its nice that the navy has finally made it a requirement for junior officers to go through a JOOD training. But, the real question is: Where the instructors themselves qualified to teach it? And who certifies them? I thought part of the problem was, ship handling training was not adequate. (They use to hand you a packet of CDs to stick into your computer, and told you to go read this on your own).

    • MarlineSpikeMate

      They are pulling some AGT merchant officers to build the program and train the trainers (or students themselves).

      • kye154

        Thanks for the info. One can’t help but hold their heads in disbelief about “training the trainers”, when they should have been proficient to begin with. Have to wonder what the navy was thinking, by having someone training others that were not proficient masters in their fields. At least it is a good thing that they decided to get AGT merchant officers to help.

  • WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

    I get it, they have multiple chose exam questions, but none of answers were right or wrong, because they didn’t want to hurt feelings, be racist, sexist, or any of the other 113 other ‘ists, and I’m sure they had a bunch of well equiped safe places with espresso machines standingby just in case the instrustor say something might offensive such as “you’re answer may not be totally correct.”

    • RDF

      You are being part of the problem.

      • WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

        I’m not a part of the problem d i p s h i t – I’m long retired, the problems started after I left, with the arrival of the p.c. Navy, which I’m sure you’re all for.

        • RDF

          I am for good watchstanders, and well trained experienced PO and JO deployed and knowledgeable. How to get there? This is not what you are interested in discussing. Ergo, part of the problem. How about contribute some of your obvious technical experience to the discussion in progress, vice drama.

          • WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

            As with any organization, military or public, it all starts and end with culture. Today’s Navy is rift with political correctness to such an extent that superiors cannot teach for fear of being accused of racism, sexism, or any other type of ‘ism. We need to get back to the Navy of old where superiors can tell reports to “do your f u c k i n g job” without fear of being accussed of some ‘ism and losing their job. My guess is that this culture has everything to do with recent collisions, everyone was afraid to speak up for fear of ‘offending’ someone. Bottom line, when everyone is wearing ‘khaki’s’ then no one is and no amount of new fangled training is going to fix the problem until they fix the culture.

          • Duane

            The multiple investigations found no contributions to the recent accidents by what you say is the case of “PC” in the Navy. Instead, the links in the accident chain included strong contributions by poor training, poor certification process, poor command decisions, and poor watchbill management.

          • WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

            So, I guess when the OS3 in CIC saw the merc ship on scope and said nothing “that was poor training,” when the seaman recruit visually saw the merh ship heading toward them and said nothing that was poor “watchbill mangement,” when the JOOD on the bridge noticed the OOD was not paying attenting and said nothing that was “poor command decision” when the TAO saw the merc ship on his display and said nothing that was “poor certification process.” When you put blinders on, you ‘see’ only what you want to see. Duane, do you really think the Navy is going to blame the Navy at this point in time for putting in place and maintaining such a crappy culture? Of course they wouldn’t, it they did the ‘investigators’ would be fired and so too would the CNO-only to prove that the SWO communitiy has a crappy culture. The SWO community needs to be rebuilt from the bottom up, and until they address the ‘core’ issue, everything they do will be window dressing and nothing more.

          • Duane

            I agree that the SWO culture is likely very different from the submarine culture or the aviator culture – that certainly was the case 40 years ago when I served in subs. But PC didn’t exist then and so obviously didn’t explain SWO culture then, and likely does not now, and its effects are greatly exaggerated by you and others now.

            Yes, poor training, poor command, poor watchbill management certainly explains the great bulk of what went wrong in this year’s collision incidents. Easily so. Apply those three factors to any warship and you will always end up with a ship in trouble.

          • RDF

            They are trying to train up juniors to speak up. Not sure why they would not while on watch. That is the essence of watchstanding. Some of what you are saying can contribute for sure. Is it ego issues of the JOOD? Ego doesn’t help. Thank you.

      • Brent Leatherman

        Agreed, that’s exactly what he is.

  • ChuckDHammer ᴾᵘᵗᶦᶰ’ˢ ˢᵒᵘˢ ᶜʰᵉᶠ

    Glad they made sure they had a diverse class because that’s what’s important.

    • RDF

      Diverse in this case is source of student commissioning. OCS, ANNAPOLIS, ROTC. For following and course tuning. Are you being sarcastic? Sounds like a great start for the black shoe community. And for the Navy. A pretty quick response.

      • proudrino

        Quick response or knee-jerk reaction? It’s a start but sending twelve ensigns through three more weeks of training doesn’t address the fundamental systemic problems that caused any of this years embarrassing debacles and failure of leadership.

        • Duane

          It is just one of many steps that are being undertaken. No single thing fixes everything.

        • RDF

          Well one has to start to fix their training. This seems to me a reasonable place and way to start. You disagree, or just wish to whine?

          • proudrino


            You’re somewhat of a bully in real life too, right? To be critical is not the same thing as whining. I do not disagree that training needs to be fixed. However, a photo-op event with twelve Ensigns learning the stuff that used to be taught in SWOS isn’t the most reasonable place to start. Personally, I would figure out a way to teach the OODs and enlisted watchstanders all the stuff they should have learned but never did due to lax standards, overcommitment, and poor professionalism on the part of senior Navy leaders. But that is just me. I’m sure as a cyberbully you have all sorts of reasoins why you are the only one with a valid viewpoint. Happy New Year and may you find some civility in 2018.

          • RDF

            That is the way we came up. But obviously that no longer works. Witness the accidents we had. I don’t understand why the mentoring and ojt training of old is now failing. Best to you also.

    • Ctrot

      It does seem a bit unusual that the class is 42% female given that females only make up 16% of the Navy as a whole.

  • Curtis Conway

    I’ll feel a lot better after they get some sea time, UNREP/CONREP, Sea and Anchor Details under their belt, and can ‘bring her along side’ Without tugs! Otherwise, good start . . . Keep Going!

    I sincerely hope that Capt. Scott Robertson PERSONALLY starts every class out with an initial one-way conversation to everyone who will EVER be OOD to fully understand that THEY ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SAFETY OF THE SHIP AND HER CREW WHEN THEY ARE ON WATCH, and to remember to SOUND COLLISION B E F O R E contact, if that eventuality is about to take place. There will be no time for the Charlie Oscar to reach the bridge most likely. Every sailor underway deserves to know they need to WAKE UP, get away from the HULL, and get above the waterline.

  • Geoff Harvard

    I learned the standard commands to the helm and lee helm and the use of binoculars at NAVOCS. While on TEMDU afloat awaiting an opening at SWOS Basic, they put me right on the watch bill as JOOD. The OOD’s taught me a lot.

    • RDF

      I think that is the point. That sort of mentoring brother officer to brother officer OJT training is not happening. For lots of reasons apparently. Op tempo, smaller crews, etc… Obviously something is not working.

  • PolicyWonk

    “I really appreciated the difficult scenarios…”
    So do the taxpayers, and those who aren’t on watch!


  • proudrino


    These Ensigns just completed something called “Basic Division Officer Course” and yet needed another three weeks (soon to be six) to cover ‘extremis extraction scenarios, weather, tides and currents, navigation aids, rules of the road, the importance of using the Automatic Identification System, the six principles of bridge watchstanding and other basics’ Makes you wonder just what these future Navy leaders actually learned about being a division officer. It seems to me that all of the above is a key part of being a good DO and watchstander.

    • OS1 retired

      Divo School is all about the ‘new’ Navy, learning the p.c. protocol i.e. how to not offend and how not to trigger the young latte sipping safe place seeking millinials and finally, how to hand out cracker box gifts of SWO pins

      • proudrino

        As I posted above, so sad. I do have to wonder what happens when these new Ensigns, fresh out of JOOD training, report to their first ship and come under the tutelage of OODs, Department Heads, and CO/XOs who came up through the “SWOS in a Box” method of learning.

    • MarlineSpikeMate

      Basic Division Officer Course is about 95% how to wade through the government bureaucracy to get something accomplished. You don’t know to know jack about a ship, but being a DIVO is about being a good paper pusher and collateral duty buff to make you FITREP look good. Knowing the ship is completely secondary. The course has about 1 power point on seamanship in the entire month + duration. Ask around, its TRUE.

      • proudrino

        So sad. When I went through SWOS, learning how to drive the ship and fight the war was about 75% with the remainder going to learning about the administrivia of being a DIVO. Different times. Different Navy.

        • Duane

          You’re mixing apples and oranges.

          DIV O school is about how top perform as a DO – which is an adminstrative role that has nothing to do with driving or fighting the ship. SWOS training is supposed to encompass all of the above – administrating, driving, and fighting.

          Div Os has always been an administrative role, going back to the days of sail. Fighting and ship handling have always been treated as separate roles.

  • Duane

    One of many necessary steps to improve seamanship amongst OODs.

    One of the best suggestions for improving seamanship was published awhile back in Proceedings – institute an OOD Personal Log to record all training and operational activities undertaken throughout the officer’s career. Just like aircraft pilots must maintain a log of their flight training and actual flight hours. If you don’t record what you learn and do as you do it, it all just goes down the memory hole, and denies the ability of others – reviewers, commanders, investigators, etc. – the opportunity to review and judge one’s actual experience and, very importantly, recency of experience.

    • Pat Patterson

      Damned good idea!

  • scottled

    The article denotes that incident watch-standers on McCain and Fitzgerald were identified as having deficiencies in two key areas – basically, “SWO Stuff,” and team cohesion. Regarding team cohesion, here is one observation – During my 28 years in (active and reserve), officers and chiefs were instantly identifiable through one simple technique – khaki uniforms. In the photo for this article, we cannot distinguish an O-1 from an O-6, much less an E-1. While the process is ripe for remaking our Navy back to its former greatness, why not take this opportunity to get away from social engineering in the uniform process, and put officers and chiefs, you know, “leaders”, back into something which makes them immediately recognizable to their team as leaders. Long sleeve wash khakis – flame resistant, flash protection, sun protection, easy to blouse for GQ, and in worst case scenarios can make a flotation device with which you are actually visible in the water. And at all times, officers and chiefs look like, well, victory, particularly with the Command ball cap and name tag. Every chief I have asked, the rite of passage into khakis was the defining moment of their career. This is an easy fix, not expensive or drawn out, and well-proven for generations. Let’s bring some common sense back into the Fleet.

    • Pat Patterson

      We’re getting rid if those awful Blueberry uniforms thankfully.

    • Duane

      Ashore, sure. At sea, not so much. The submarine service used navy blue “poopie suits” at sea for many decades (apparently replaced a few years ago by the blueberries?), no distinctions by rank or rate. We had no trouble telling who was who by the collar devices, and well, just by knowing who was who anyway. Maybe on very large ships like CVNs, knowing your officers or CPO is a bigger challenge. The “social engineering” of the sub service was to the effect that everyone depended on everyone else to know exactly how and when to do one’s job, because everyone’s life depended upon it. Hierarchy has nothing to do with knowing your job, and others knowing that you know your job.

      I don’t care at all for the faux camos, whether they are blue or green … it’s ridiculous to camoflage sailors at sea or ashore, unless they’re CBs or SEALs. In my service back in the 70s the Navy attempted to change from the old dungarees to stupid pullover jumpers and stiff-fabric’ed pants. Within a couple of years the Navy admitted their error and went back to the dungarees. They were great working uni’s for the enlisted ashore, but at sea the poopie suits were better – easier to care for, one piece, no ironing, just wad’em up and throw them under the rack.

      • scottled

        I mention wash khakis only as a shipboard uniform; they were not authorized for wear at a shore command. And as to knowing who everyone is, a typical carrier at sea runs about 5,500 plus, with ship’s company, airwing and admiral’s staff. I once had a division with 334 screamin’ seamen while on USS America (CV-66) – and I was the senior guy, as a Lieutenant, along with a warrant officer and a half dozen chiefs. When standing duty inport overseas, there would be several hundred or more that would attend muster, from ship/squadrons/CAG/Flag staffs; it was utterly impossible to know who is who. Likewise, on the flight deck khaki trousers distinguish seniority from the junior crew members who are in re-purposed Army BDU pants. Instant and unambiguous identification, just like the flight deck jersey color scheme. Color-coded, for safety, you could say. And it works!

        Regarding the concept of cammies for the Navy, what are these people thinking? I don’t WANT to be camouflaged if I am at sea, and especially if I am IN the sea. Khakis for officers and chiefs, coveralls for E-1 to E-6 (or even up to O-7 if so desired, with blue or khaki belt as appropriate), and flight suits for the airdales. Worked on the four carriers I served in, and for millions of other Sailors over many years. Inexpensive, easy to maintain, no major issue for the supply system, and looks decent as well as provides for protection and identification. Am I missing something here?

    • MarlineSpikeMate

      I feel like our priorities are WAY off if we are discussing uniforms here in the wake of collisions and clear lack of professional seamanship.

  • Robert Kail

    The standard response to problem solving is “more training”. And the time honored response to more training is “attend a classroom course”. It would behoove the people responsible for developing training sh to be familiar with Malcolm Knoles “How Adults Learn”. Real “learning” does not take place in the class room but in the practice of the points covered in class. The short, and relatively inexpensive, solution is “Simulators”. Helps the student apply the class room material. BUT, it is not real world and does not address all of the other inputs the student has to deal with on board ship. The JOOD(T) has to work under a ship board training system where there are qualified bridge watch standers directly exercising this newbie on knowledge and application. It has to be specific and measurable. The “trainers” have to be “trained” in how to do it. Oh, and “Simulators” are best used for introductory experience, skilled operator refresher and advanced tactics training.

  • Murray

    Here’s a thought. The Royal New Zealand Navy has been sending junior officers on P&O cruise ships to the South Pacific for navigation training. The JOs work alongside P&O officer cadets and gain experience in ship handling of large merchant vessels. Perhaps the USN might like to try something similar.

    • scottled

      I retired six years ago, but hey, sign me up for this!


    The last few paragraphs show the problems that haven’t been addressed yet.
    – SWOS Newport is just piloting the course, the course itself will be taught in Norfolk and San Diego. Newport no longer has the facilities, simulators, or staff to teach the course.
    – SWOS is working with the fleet concentration areas to find facilities and simulators (hidden in 3rd to last para). That is training world speak for there is no facilities, simulators, and probably staff to do this. When you figure they probably need a couple of electronic classrooms, three to four simulators, and 8-12 staff to run this program in each concentration area, it is a pretty major evolution. Every surface ensign, 5 weeks total course length, in the sim 2 weeks for 6hrs a day, probably more like 3 weeks or more later. That is a lot of facilities to just find unused.
    – In the last para, USFFC said the Navy “would likely” invest in more simulators. Again, indicates there is nothing in the FYDP and anything they do will be at the expense of something else. So if they use the limited shiphandling simulators in the fleet concentration areas for training ensigns, the fleet won’t get to use them. Even then, that is not enough.

    Bottom line, they did a pilot course out of hide and have great plans but no facilities, no simulators, and no instructors. Probably will not end well.

    • Duane

      There were 60 some specific actions recommended by the accident investigation boards addressing many operational issues. This particular action addresses but one of the 60 some actions that CNO has ordered to be carried out.

      • USNVO

        This is a small part of the total action, no question.

        But it clearly shows that anyone can think of an impossible plan. Having had the experience (and great privilege) to command one of the Navy’s school houses during the “Revolution in Training”, the beginning of LCS, and a BRAC move, I can say with great conviction that what is missing here is what I like to call an achievable vision. Without knowing anything about the SWOS initiative (which on its face appears to be very good), I can pretty well guarantee that there are currently no instructors, no facilities, no simulators, and most importantly, no money for this. How do I know, because no one said there was. Did anyone ask that question? No, and notice that the CO of SWOS was pretty silent on it. That pretty much defines impossible plan.

        This reminds me of LCS the early years.
        – No money except for the ships, so everything came out of hide.
        – No achievable vision . ADM Davidson thinks they might install more simulators? Really? Given the projected throughput you will need to double or triple the available simulators and that doesn’t even begin to address more time for ship watch teams to use the simulators as well. And the Navy is “likely” to increase simulators. Sorry, not the leadership you need from CFFC.
        – No talk or action on budget for the future. This takes lots of people, space, and resources. It is kind of like Train to Qualify and LCS. You can’t just have stuff magically appear regardless of how much you really want it to or because you had a good idea. The pilot is easy. If you do not have a solution for the really hard things like budget, facilities, instructors, simulators, etc., right now, it is not going to happen in 2018 or even 2020.

        Again, a great initiative, but just like LCS they will keep kicking the can down the road until the train runs them over. Alternatively, they will fund something high vis at the expense of everything else.

        • MarlineSpikeMate

          How do you explain the fact that the Navy has GAINED about 70 billion dollars per year in funding since 2000, and has DECREASED the fleet size by 40+ ships in the same time frame… and they need more money? They need to learn how to maintain, train and operate their ships without a giant inefficient bureaucracy. Look at MSC, they can operate older ships at a higher operational schedule with fewer people!

          • USNVO

            Well, not that it is important to the question at hand, but the Navy was massively underfunding maintenance in 2000 (hard to forget the bathtub at the end of the Clinton years) and that was 17 years ago. Yeah, no changes since then.

            MSC does a fine job of operating the auxiliary ships but a direct comparison is somewhat disingenuous. They aren’t armed, they don’t do training of junior personnel, and they aren’t operated in the same way as an equivilent navy manned ship.

            Finally, you misinterpret my point. The Navy could resource the added training, but they haven’t yet. So, if the facilities don’t exist and there is no money or people assigned to it, then it won’t happen until it does get in the budget or people get assigned. So, FY19 at the earliest but probably even later. And to do that, you will have to take the money, facilities, training equipment, and instructors away from someone else. Whoever that is will not want to give them up.

            Doing a 12 person, 3 week pilot out of hide is easy. It doesn’t cost the personnel guys a whole lot (36 weeks of TDY is a drop in the bucket), the instructors come from other SWOS courses, the simulators are there for the DH, PXO, PCO, and other courses, and finding a 12 person classroom for a week is easy. Doing it for every single SWO ensign is a whole order of magnitude more difficult. And notice that no one said they had a handle on that, just the pie in the sky, if I had unlimited resources this is what I would do yapping. It reminds me of the Revolution in Training and LCS Train to Qualify. Great sounding end states but no way to get there from here. I used to call it “Driving to Juneau”. I can drive here and I can drive there, but I can’t get from here to there.

            So while I think the training is extremely valuable and long overdue, it isn’t funded and until it is, it is just a good idea. Beginning training in 2018 will only happen if you cut something else. Beyond funds and facilities, where do you find 16 post DHs to do this?

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            If they are massively underfunding maintenance, where is all the money going. They do not need more money, as it is clearly evident they have it, especially considering the decrease in size of the fleet, yet increase in funding.

            Auxiliaries were not much more armed when the Navy operated them, and are operated in the same manner. They still have small arms and crew served weapons now. They do indeed train junior personal, however, they come to the ship much more qualified, especially their junior officers (hint hint).

            The Navy already has BDOC and ADOC set up for ALL their officers. Adding additional training on the tail end of this does not seem insurmountable at all. And as you know, the LCS program didn’t need DHs to train them (bridge watch-standing), but rather relied on AGT merchant officers.. and there are plenty. Additionally, I’ve met some LCS trained junior officers, and they are competent compared to their traditional peers. Maybe if LCS did something similar with their engineers they wouldn’t have had all these problems!

          • USNVO

            Are you intentionally misreading my post or do you just think if you keep repeating the same thing it will make it true?

            – You chose 2000 as your starting point for funding comparison. The maintenance budget was vastly underfunded then, that is just a historical fact, it has nothing to do with today.

            – Lets compare a T-AO to a Cimmaron class AO. T-AO has small arms. AO had 2 CIWS, 4 .50cal mounts, and SLQ-25B. Additionally the ship was required to have a VBSS team. Yes, they had bigger crews, but they could also operate 5 rigs and the flightdeck at the same time and carried ammunition in addition to fuel. The difference between a AOE and a T-AOE is even greater.

            Finally, you clearly don’t understand the allocation of Navy funds. Yes, there is probably plenty of resources but they aren’t allocated to that purpose. The personnel guys don’t have the money in that account (you are adding 5 additional weeks for every ensign, that is probably more than they currently fund), , the training guys don’t have the simulators (at least not if you use them for there intended purposes as well) and instructors (actually Navy instructors would be cheaper because they are just people, civilian instructors require money which is already allocated to someone else) in the budget, the training world probably doesn’t have the electronic classrooms available (if they did the CO of SWOS would have said so instead of saying they were looking at options). All of those things need to be in place to implement the program or you have to take the resources from someone else. So until you can show me how the Navy is going to do that, your assertion that it doesn’t seem insurmountable is pretty much the same happy juice they are giving out at SWOS. SWOS did the easy stuff, their inability to articulate a pathway to actually deliver the multiple order of magnitude more difficult training is revealing.

            You mention LCS. The first LCS simulator was initially (partially and then only LCS-1 class) funded in FY06 with funds taken out of hide by CSCS. Those funds delayed several other training initiatives by several years. Final funding was not received for several more years and they didn’t start meaningful training until several years after that. And everything was in place before junior officers were ever assigned to the ship! So go ahead, use LCS as your benchmark, it demonstrates perfectly just how difficult it is when you don’t have your resources allotted in the budget.

          • MarlineSpikeMate

            We can look back further and the numbers are similar.. You think this is not true? This is public information and a simple google search will show you funding and spending. Say it ain’t so joe.

            Do you believe the legacy system in place right now is good? Even decent? Do you think those Ensigns are even needed on the ship with their made up bastardized and debased job titles? Do they get the watch time needed competing with so many? Sure, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Money spent here doesn’t get spent there… Priorities happen. Why are you exasperating the fact?

            I’m not sure what your angle is? This is an insurmountable task? The old system is the way to go? Hurdles are going to come up. More money pumped into the Navy is not a solution.

            My point on LCS is the bridge training clearly works. You just simply describe the inefficiencies within the USN. Everyone is clear on that.

            I bring up MSC to show just how cheaply and efficiently they MAINTAIN their ships, the same ships the USN maintained in the past, yet do it for a fraction of the cost and with higher operating hours. A few defensive countermeasures and a boarding team for double the crew and triple the cost and a reduction in operating tempo? Maintaining a ship is maintaining a ship. When the USN needs contractors to fix the simplest of things (with a tremendous growth in the last two decades), we have major systemic problems in the surface fleet.

            I would suggest reading some studies by the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) CRM D0011501.A2 and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) NSIAD-97-185. Additional series discuss what I’m talking about as well.

            As a tax payer, I don’t dwell too much into the semantics of why the USN can’t maintain, train and operate as you describe above, but know based on studies that things need to change.

            Happy New Years

          • WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

            The F-35 and the LCS black holes are sucking up the entire budget, no money left for UN-sexy things such as maintenance, training, etc.

  • disqus_89uuCprLIv

    Excellent although half-way response to the problem.

    There is still a world of difference between interacting with a simulation and standing on the bridge wing taking Pelorous bearings on a large mership heading toward you.

    There is no doubt that having the reference background and education in ship characteristics, rules of the road, maneuvering orders, bridge/watch management, radar tracking and maneuvering board use is essential to a successful OOD. But actually manuevering using a small craft is the other half of the training necessary to train OODs appropriately.

    Failure teaches extremely!

    Learning what leads to failure when shipdriving is best when a cheap vessel like a YP is employed rather than a ship of the line.

    Mistakes while training are expected and are “teachable moments.”

    Mistakes while in charge of a critically important warship are not acceptable.

    Hands-on practice makes good shiphandlers. Simulations help prepare for this hands-on practice.

    Putting it all together and pacticing shiphandling with small vessels and scaling up once afloat works best.

  • MarlineSpikeMate

    Very interesting that this will eventually include STCW training that the rest of the maritime world uses (including most professional European Navies). I think it is fantastic, and wonder if this will progress to any IMO licensing like European Navy’s do, such as 3rd Officer license for junior watch standers and the CO having a master license, with 2nd and Chief Mates in between. I’m sure most of you guys are very detached from this being prior U.S. Navy, but know much of the world does abide by this, and are much better mariners partly because of this. Look at JMSDF docking their ships without tugs, or almost every other NATO nation being fantastic at DIVTACs, ROR, Navigation, avoiding collision, allision, groundings, engineering casualties, etc. Being a better mariner (steaming and driving the ship) makes one a better warfighter, just like being a better pilot makes one a better fighter pilot. Steaming and driving is 2/3rds of being a SWO!

  • robert richard

    Add some underway time on the surplus YPs and maybe some advanced underway training as well.

  • John B. Morgen

    All officers must take the course, or even as a refresher course for the seasoned officers up to O-6 grade level..