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Ship types

KMC1020

Well-Known Member
What are the pros and cons of each ship type for a new SWO? I know obviously the ship I select will heavily be determined on what is available; however, I'd like to get an idea about life aboard each ship type and why a JO SWO would pick one over the other. Thanks!
 

Uncle Fester

Robot Pimp
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Super Moderator
Contributor
Go to a DDG. You'll get the most exposure to the most things that Shoes do. It's a small enough wardroom that you won't get lost in a sea of unpinned ensigns - you need visibility to the senior watch officer for getting U/I watches, on the bill for special evolutions, etc.

Cruisers and gators have bigger wardrooms and you risk getting lost in the shuffle (though as a female, you'll stand out anyway), but they're viable options.

MCMs have been almost universally panned as bad ships to go to for an ensign. The command ships are very rarely underway.

I don't know if they're sending ensigns to carriers or big-deck phibs...they didn't used to...wouldn't recommend it for a first tour. Likewise PCs or LCS.
 

Flash

SEVAL/ECMO
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Super Moderator
Contributor
...The command ships are very rarely underway....
I know a guy who was on the USS Blue Ridge his first tour, said he didn't learn a whole lot SWO-wise (still earned his pin though) but it was an awesome tour since they spent more time in port on 'cruise' than they did at sea. Did a three or four week 'cruise' on the east coast of Australia spending about 70% of that time in port.
 

azguy

Well-Known Member
None
Go to a DDG. You'll get the most exposure to the most things that Shoes do. It's a small enough wardroom that you won't get lost in a sea of unpinned ensigns - you need visibility to the senior watch officer for getting U/I watches, on the bill for special evolutions, etc.
OP- I hate to agree with Fester on anything SWO related, but this is a great post and I'm 100% in agreement with him.
 

Uncle Fester

Robot Pimp
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Super Moderator
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Don't neglect homeport, too. Makes a big difference for quality of life.

Especially if you're unencumbered with dependents, I would strongly recommend a DDG out of Japan, if you can get it. Underway a lot and doing a lot, good QOL when you're ashore, and you make some money. Everyone I've known who did FDNF loved it and was fighting to go back. Rota's still a new thing, but it looks interesting...though I hear life on a BMD boat is kinda dull.

San Diego's awesome. I loved Mayport, though that's not universal. Had some exposure to Pearl and I know guys who were there or at K-Bay - consensus was nice place to live, but expensive, and island fever sets in after a while. Can't speak to PacNorWest. I would put Norfolk far down the list, but I lived there for about six years and go back frequently as a Reservist - it's livable.
 

N4Life

Member
Smallboy:
Lots of opportunities to step-up and take on assignments, but with smaller wardrooms, a bigger chance of being SWOd by another JO. You know all the crew. With fewer people, you stand more watches. We had the fewest duty sections so you had duty days more often than other ships. The CO on a FFGs and DDGs are first time command, which affects their views. DHs are LTs so they are closer to you, but again less experience to learn from. On our FFG (and I heard on DDGs) unpinned JOs slept in enlisted overflow (it was separate from berthing, but you are not in a stateroom) Okay, not a problem as you’re female, but you may get stuck sharing a room with a DH if they are the only other female officer. Port visits are fun. Because of the smaller ship, you can go to a wider verity of ports than the larger ships. However, if the larger ships enter the same port, your ship gets the leftovers. Except for CGs, the CO seniority is lower so other commands have priority preference (ie port visits, pier berthing, when they enter or leave port). My First XO (a shoe) stated that a smallboy emphasizes what it is to be a SWO.

Amphib (at least on an LPD):
Lots of opportunity, if less on the combat side (During wargames, our standing orders was to "run away". We use to joke that our most dangerous weapon was the rust we might infect them with if we made contact). Larger wardroom, shared with the Marines. I really enjoyed the Marines on my first boat, but I was one of the few who hung out with them. Lots of sailing in circles while deployed waiting just in case something happens and the Marines needed to go ashore. If your intent is to do four and out or get your pin and lateral transfer, Amphibs are stated to be the easiest to earn your SWO pin. Our boat had PQS training classes to help the JOs with their quals. We didn’t have that on the FFG, but that may be because of how many unpinned JOs we had onboard. Large staterooms for all officers (at least on the old Austin class) and often you can get a stateroom to yourself. I know one of the second tour JOs had an exercise bike in his stateroom and the Chaplin had a piano. Our deployments were longer than the FFG but we also spent less time in port (this could be a good thing or bad). If you like to PT, the gym is better (although packed when the Marines are on board). The atmosphere on the Amphib is slower and more relaxed (but still professional) than on a smallboy. Of the two boats I was on, I preferred the gator.

LCC:
The two JOs that I met on a LCC complained that it was a floating hotel with way too much brass. When they left homeport, they stated the port visits were good but more of shopping trips for the brass than anything. It wasn’t what they joined the Navy for.

USNS:
The three JOs that I worked with loved their tour. I’m not sure how its viewed career wise. Large and individual staterooms with personal heads (I think they said some else cleaned them but…) . Professional cooks with the best food so I heard. Working with civilian mariners who really know they stuff, so you can learn a lot about being a Sailor, but less on the combat aspect. They did complained that they spent more time at sea than the regular fleet, but it was mostly back and forth from port to strikegroup and back.
 

KMC1020

Well-Known Member
Thank you for the differing options! I really like seeing different view points on the different type of ships. How is San Diego doing with all the drought issues? That was my biggest concern with getting stationed there.
 

BigRed389

Registered User
None
G-d smiles on you if that's the biggest thing you have to worry about as a SWO Ensign on her first tour...
There are a lot of legitimate gripes about SWO life, but homeport (especially as a DivO) really isn't one of them.

Norfolk sucks.
Little Creek is better, much more laid back, but you're still in the general vicinity of Norfolk.

Everything else...cry to someone in any of the other DoD services about where you're stationed and you may get deservedly slapped.
 

ClassyGent23

Well-Known Member
Smallboy:
Lots of opportunities to step-up and take on assignments, but with smaller wardrooms, a bigger chance of being SWOd by another JO. You know all the crew. With fewer people, you stand more watches. We had the fewest duty sections so you had duty days more often than other ships. The CO on a FFGs and DDGs are first time command, which affects their views. DHs are LTs so they are closer to you, but again less experience to learn from. On our FFG (and I heard on DDGs) unpinned JOs slept in enlisted overflow (it was separate from berthing, but you are not in a stateroom) Okay, not a problem as you’re female, but you may get stuck sharing a room with a DH if they are the only other female officer. Port visits are fun. Because of the smaller ship, you can go to a wider verity of ports than the larger ships. However, if the larger ships enter the same port, your ship gets the leftovers. Except for CGs, the CO seniority is lower so other commands have priority preference (ie port visits, pier berthing, when they enter or leave port). My First XO (a shoe) stated that a smallboy emphasizes what it is to be a SWO.

Amphib (at least on an LPD):
Lots of opportunity, if less on the combat side (During wargames, our standing orders was to "run away". We use to joke that our most dangerous weapon was the rust we might infect them with if we made contact). Larger wardroom, shared with the Marines. I really enjoyed the Marines on my first boat, but I was one of the few who hung out with them. Lots of sailing in circles while deployed waiting just in case something happens and the Marines needed to go ashore. If your intent is to do four and out or get your pin and lateral transfer, Amphibs are stated to be the easiest to earn your SWO pin. Our boat had PQS training classes to help the JOs with their quals. We didn’t have that on the FFG, but that may be because of how many unpinned JOs we had onboard. Large staterooms for all officers (at least on the old Austin class) and often you can get a stateroom to yourself. I know one of the second tour JOs had an exercise bike in his stateroom and the Chaplin had a piano. Our deployments were longer than the FFG but we also spent less time in port (this could be a good thing or bad). If you like to PT, the gym is better (although packed when the Marines are on board). The atmosphere on the Amphib is slower and more relaxed (but still professional) than on a smallboy. Of the two boats I was on, I preferred the gator.

LCC:
The two JOs that I met on a LCC complained that it was a floating hotel with way too much brass. When they left homeport, they stated the port visits were good but more of shopping trips for the brass than anything. It wasn’t what they joined the Navy for.

USNS:
The three JOs that I worked with loved their tour. I’m not sure how its viewed career wise. Large and individual staterooms with personal heads (I think they said some else cleaned them but…) . Professional cooks with the best food so I heard. Working with civilian mariners who really know they stuff, so you can learn a lot about being a Sailor, but less on the combat aspect. They did complained that they spent more time at sea than the regular fleet, but it was mostly back and forth from port to strikegroup and back.
This is great! Thanks a lot! I have been searching for descriptions like this but it has been difficult to find. A followup question, does any of those ships change in time of war? I was thinking especially for Amphib if there were any changes?

Also, what do the typical seaduty and/or deployments look for each of these?
 
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ASR

Member
MCMs have been almost universally panned as bad ships to go to for an ensign.
Typically by people who have never been on one. MCMs, particularly FDNF MCMs (most of them are now, only 3 are CONUS and the crews are no longer rotational) offer a lot of shiphandling experience. This is due to small wardrooms (there's still only one CONN, whether you're on an MCM or a CVN) coupled with short legs and low endurance resulting in more frequent port visits for stores/fuel.

Of course there are disadvantages, including:
1) Less exposure to warfare areas other than MIW
2) Pretty much no chance to get better than 3 section duty in port if your command is doing things right
3) As noted, some people with a narrow view may look down on you for coming from an MCM. They'll mock your ignorance of, say, AAW, but have no shame in admitting they know next to nothing about MIW (even though mines have done way more damage to USN ships in the last 70 years than any other threat).
4) You will have fewer options for 2nd divo tour: PERS-41's business rules, pulled straight from career briefs, are that all first tour MCM divos WILL go CRUDES or AMPHIB for their 2nd tour, losing out on less traditional options like NECC and afloat staff duty (which you'd think would be a good thing, given #3, right?)
5) MCMs will have all the same collateral duties as a larger ship, but fewer people to do them. It's a shallow bench.

Anyways, my recommendation would be homeport first, then ship type. Any class of ship can have a great or horrible command climate. Any ship can be sentenced to the yards for a period of not less than 6 months. Best to focus on the sure thing: life outside of work.
 

wink

VS NFO. Blue and Gold Officer
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Super Moderator
Contributor
Aside from wardroom size, what is the dig on LCS? I am curious because my newly commissioned nephew just got an LCS crew out of San Diego and was thrilled. Just from what I have heard about LCS I wouldn't think it is a good deal for anyone, except maybe a first command.
 

azguy

Well-Known Member
None
Aside from wardroom size, what is the dig on LCS? I am curious because my newly commissioned nephew just got an LCS crew out of San Diego and was thrilled. Just from what I have heard about LCS I wouldn't think it is a good deal for anyone, except maybe a first command.
San Diego is a good deal- probably why he was thrilled. LCS is an interesting ship; 180 out from how the surface force has done business forever. Not necessarily a bad thing on and of itself, but it's still very new.

The problem with being new is the uncertainty of the ships life cycle. The LCS folks have a beautiful brief about how perfect and awesome LCS OPTEMPO and deployment schedules will work. They have yet to execute anything close to their fairytale; but, again, it's still very new.

The ship itself totally sucks in some areas and brings absolutely kick-ass, tremendous, eye-watering new capability in others; depends on the mission set and a other factors, none of which are "REL AirWarriros." This stuff will be fairly transparant to an ENS.
 

NavyOffRec

Well-Known Member
Aside from wardroom size, what is the dig on LCS? I am curious because my newly commissioned nephew just got an LCS crew out of San Diego and was thrilled. Just from what I have heard about LCS I wouldn't think it is a good deal for anyone, except maybe a first command.
On the NUPOC trips they once took a group to tour a LCS for the surface tour, that was the last and only time (when I was an OR), from then on NUPOC trip were not to include a LCS for a surface tour.
 
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