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SWO Competitiveness

NavyOffRec

Well-Known Member
In your estimation, would you say the "overcrowding", for lack of a better word, is a sort of numbers game to maximize the number of SWOs who will likely stick around through the DH tours and beyond? Like get as many SWOs in, especially from NROTC and the academy, as is sustainable and hope a lot of those will stick around past 4-6 years? Seems like every SWO I've come across has told me the game is do your DIVO tours, spend some of the shore tour to figure out your next move, and either lateral transfer or get out. I'm curious if that's more of an exception or more of a norm.
eh, who knows, what I do know is there are people being paid a lot of money that should have been able to figure this out by now.
 
I have seen that before, I was one of many that took prospective NUPOC's on a tour, the small boy we visited was flush with young SWO's as well, so much so they had to put them in small enlisted berthing (after moving the E's out).
Yep. I lived in a berthing as a P-SWO for almost two years - though that was driven more by gender issues (we got like 9 female JOs in a row that all got staterooms) than completely by overcrowding at the time. That said, now we've still got like 6 or 8 male JOs in berthing, and for deploying ships you should expect to spend your entire deployment as a 1st tour in a berthing due to the embarked pilots. Small boys were not built for the number of JO's they're cramming on them.

In your estimation, would you say the "overcrowding", for lack of a better word, is a sort of numbers game to maximize the number of SWOs who will likely stick around through the DH tours and beyond? Like get as many SWOs in, especially from NROTC and the academy, as is sustainable and hope a lot of those will stick around past 4-6 years? Seems like every SWO I've come across has told me the game is do your DIVO tours, spend some of the shore tour to figure out your next move, and either lateral transfer or get out. I'm curious if that's more of an exception or more of a norm.
It's been a bit of an issue for a while, but got much worse of late.

The overcrowding is driven mostly by the issues with LCS, in that they cannot effectively support meaningful qualification of 1st tour division officers, and their small crew size makes it extremely difficult for them to support the dead weight that is a first tour's first year or so. When the navy started building LCS they anticipated that they could (post-commissioning) plug in more junior people over time as they came to understand how the ship's were going to operate and their configuration / certification process became more standardized. Over time they learned that wasn't the case. It's worth noting that's not only an issue at the officer level, it just manifests in different ways on the enlisted side as across the board the LCS program has stripped a lot of other ships of fleet returning sailors (i.e. 2nd class, 1st class, CPO) because they're manned almost exclusively with E5 and above.

Anyway.

That caused overcrowding for a start because all these things are planned years in advance and the billets were already funded, and they had to do something with the new ensigns. It got worse when last year they decided that no 1st tours would go to MCM, CVN, or LCS. Mind you, that was only 3-4 billets per ship, but with 11 MCM, 18 LCS, and 10 CVNs all coughing up 3-4 additional 1st tours... you get the idea. This is especially true because on small boys (i.e. DDG / CG) you still have to plug in the same number of second tour division officers as before to cover the second tour jobs that cannot be given to a 1st tour (DCA, FCO, ASWO, ATO, NAV, ACE, MPA, TRAINO, etc).

That said, the lack of those willing / interested in signing for department head is a significant problem. For perspective here, on my first ship I saw 30+ division officers. Of them, two signed on for department head or had an interest in signing for department head. One other was on the fence. The rest were all intent on doing their minimum commitment and getting out (ROTC / Academy) or transferring (OCS). Part of that is by design - you don't actually want every DIVO to want to stay in or you'd end up with way too many department heads - but the fact that they keep increasing the bonus and the numbers aren't going up says they have some kind of problem.
 
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Gatordev

Well-Known Member
pilot
Site Admin
Contributor
...the small boy we visited was flush with young SWO's as well, so much so they had to put them in small enlisted berthing (after moving the E's out).
This sounds like every frigate I've been underway on, to include at one point where myself, another O-4, and 3 Chiefs were all living down in the overflow passageway together, just aft of the other overflow full of Ensigns. Good times, especially when the one dickhead Ensign kept slamming the water-tight door in the middle of the night until I finally grabbed him by the throat from my rack and told him to stop. "I didn't know anyone was in here?"

Seriously?
 

ChuckMK23

Instructor, Flight.
pilot
That said, the lack of those willing / interested in signing for department head is a significant problem. For perspective here, on my first ship I saw 30+ division officers. Of them, two signed on for department head or had an interest in signing for department head.
Imagine that - LT and Qualified SWO having doubts after living life as a glorified enlisted sailor on his/her first ship in a command climate that sees developing young ENS/JG's in their career as overhead. I'm shocked.

This will only continue SWO culture of "life sucked for me as a JO so I will abuse you so it sucks for you" - amazing. And you guys wonder why you won't be able to win a war at sea.
 

Sculpin

Well-Known Member
Yep. I lived in a berthing as a P-SWO for almost two years - though that was driven more by gender issues (we got like 9 female JOs in a row that all got staterooms) than completely by overcrowding at the time. That said, now we've still got like 6 or 8 male JOs in berthing, and for deploying ships you should expect to spend your entire deployment as a 1st tour in a berthing due to the embarked pilots. Small boys were not built for the number of JO's they're cramming on them.



It's been a bit of an issue for a while, but got much worse of late.

The overcrowding is driven mostly by the issues with LCS, in that they cannot effectively support meaningful qualification of 1st tour division officers, and their small crew size makes it extremely difficult for them to support the dead weight that is a first tour's first year or so. When the navy started building LCS they anticipated that they could (post-commissioning) plug in more junior people over time as they came to understand how the ship's were going to operate and their configuration / certification process became more standardized. Over time they learned that wasn't the case. It's worth noting that's not only an issue at the officer level, it just manifests in different ways on the enlisted side as across the board the LCS program has stripped a lot of other ships of fleet returning sailors (i.e. 2nd class, 1st class, CPO) because they're manned almost exclusively with E5 and above.

Anyway.

That caused overcrowding for a start because all these things are planned years in advance and the billets were already funded, and they had to do something with the new ensigns. It got worse when last year they decided that no 1st tours would go to MCM, CVN, or LCS. Mind you, that was only 3-4 billets per ship, but with 11 MCM, 18 LCS, and 10 CVNs all coughing up 3-4 additional 1st tours... you get the idea. This is especially true because on small boys (i.e. DDG / CG) you still have to plug in the same number of second tour division officers as before to cover the second tour jobs that cannot be given to a 1st tour (DCA, FCO, ASWO, ATO, NAV, ACE, MPA, TRAINO, etc).

That said, the lack of those willing / interested in signing for department head is a significant problem. For perspective here, on my first ship I saw 30+ division officers. Of them, two signed on for department head or had an interest in signing for department head. One other was on the fence. The rest were all intent on doing their minimum commitment and getting out (ROTC / Academy) or transferring (OCS). Part of that is by design - you don't actually want every DIVO to want to stay in or you'd end up with way too many department heads - but the fact that they keep increasing the bonus and the numbers aren't going up says they have some kind of problem.
Much appreciated for the response. Hopefully these issues can be more or less alleviated in the near future. All the best.
 
Imagine that - LT and Qualified SWO having doubts after living life as a glorified enlisted sailor on his/her first ship in a command climate that sees developing young ENS/JG's in their career as overhead. I'm shocked.

This will only continue SWO culture of "life sucked for me as a JO so I will abuse you so it sucks for you" - amazing. And you guys wonder why you won't be able to win a war at sea.
So, I had about as crummy a first tour as you can pitch (18 month availability, living out of berthing for two years, no underway time, compressed basic phase, engineering tour, no CPO, INSURV during the basic phase, and a 30+ month tour) and honestly I never really saw much of the bad internal SWO culture. I had generally very good to amazing department heads (with a couple exceptions) that did a really good job of mentoring, sheltering, and developing JOs. They weren't perfect - my first CHENG ran his division officers really hard to offset the lack of CPOs - and a couple people ended up catching the short end of the stick simply by virtue of operational tasking and their timeline, but I don't think you can attribute the problems in the community to bad leadership on the ship-level as a whole.

While bad leadership does happen, most of the issues I've seen in the community are more a product of Big Navy's requirements not taking into account shipboard life on a small boy, operational tasking from on high that is extremely difficult to impossible to manage without a punishing schedule, and a lot of people that show up not really wanting to be in the community to begin with and approaching things with a really negative attitude / lack of enthusiasm.

From what I've seen most of the guys that stay in for department head genuinely want to make things better for people than they had it themselves - they just have their hands tied pretty frequently. The one time circumstances really conspired against me and I was ready to jump off the ledge I had two department heads bend over backwards to help me out and give me an opportunity to get what I wanted.
 

RedFive

Well-Known Member
pilot
Contributor
This sounds like every frigate I've been underway on, to include at one point where myself, another O-4, and 3 Chiefs were all living down in the overflow passageway together, just aft of the other overflow full of Ensigns. Good times, especially when the one dickhead Ensign kept slamming the water-tight door in the middle of the night until I finally grabbed him by the throat from my rack and told him to stop. "I didn't know anyone was in here?"

Seriously?
You, too, lived in the overflow berthing?? I thought we were the only ones!! For us the JOPA Jungle just forward was no big deal, we even shared that little p-way as a locker room. It was the fucking deck division right on the other side of the bulkhead slamming their racks at 0600 after a 0300 recovery that pissed us off. Fuck!! Captain, we're being tasked to do all this operational shit at night, why don't we shift the entire working day right so your Sailors aren't up all day and all night???? Nope.
 

Gatordev

Well-Known Member
pilot
Site Admin
Contributor
Fortunately it was only for a month while in Haiti. We had 9 pilots and 10 crewman. Myself, the other pilot, and two of those Chiefs (AWRCs) were added at the last minute once the ship was tasked to go. The ship and Air Det were doing WOWU (ISATT) and I wasn't the OIC yet. Once the sun went down, the air crews would take over the wardroom for a daily debrief (which was very valuable) and then occupy the wardroom for the rest of the night watching Dexter.

I think at one point we even had a female PO sleeping down there with us for a couple of hours until someone finally realized she was down there and told her to go sleep up in O-country until she could be transported to whatever relief efforts she was part of (I think she was a SEABEE, maybe).

Also fun to wake up at 0200 to the smell of JP5 and hear one of the Snipes taking a fuel sounding. I can still hear that sound in my head.
 

NavyOffRec

Well-Known Member
Fortunately it was only for a month while in Haiti. We had 9 pilots and 10 crewman. Myself, the other pilot, and two of those Chiefs (AWRCs) were added at the last minute once the ship was tasked to go. The ship and Air Det were doing WOWU (ISATT) and I wasn't the OIC yet. Once the sun went down, the air crews would take over the wardroom for a daily debrief (which was very valuable) and then occupy the wardroom for the rest of the night watching Dexter.

I think at one point we even had a female PO sleeping down there with us for a couple of hours until someone finally realized she was down there and told her to go sleep up in O-country until she could be transported to whatever relief efforts she was part of (I think she was a SEABEE, maybe).

Also fun to wake up at 0200 to the smell of JP5 and hear one of the Snipes taking a fuel sounding. I can still hear that sound in my head.
nothing like the sound of the sounding tape unwinding.
 

RedFive

Well-Known Member
pilot
Contributor
I got back from that deployment and my spouse said everything I owned smelled like fuel. Fucking fuel soundings!
 

AllAmerican75

Back to School!
None
From what I've seen most of the guys that stay in for department head genuinely want to make things better for people than they had it themselves - they just have their hands tied pretty frequently. The one time circumstances really conspired against me and I was ready to jump off the ledge I had two department heads bend over backwards to help me out and give me an opportunity to get what I wanted.
I believe that is the case within the last few years (YG 2004 and later DH classes). Before that, you had a LOT of folks who were bitter and wanted to inflict pain on others. Fortunately, the majority of the current crop of O3's and O4's are mostly good dudes and dudettes and I have faith will do a lot to turn around the shitty culture that has run rampant throughout the SWO community for the past few decades. My only concern is that the current high OPTEMPO, maintenance issues, and cultural problems will drive retention so far into the ground that the problems will never be fixed.

nothing like the sound of the sounding tape unwinding.
And then the smell of F76 filling your nostrils as the sounding and security watch flashes his flashlight directly in your eyes and makes so much noise you'd think he was half wild animal. Good times. Not as good as the multiple times the Snipes flooded the berthings with fuel while doing fueling but good nonetheless.
 
And then the smell of F76 filling your nostrils as the sounding and security watch flashes his flashlight directly in your eyes and makes so much noise you'd think he was half wild animal. Good times. Not as good as the multiple times the Snipes flooded the berthings with fuel while doing fueling but good nonetheless.
You got fuel? Man, I'm jealous. All we ever got in my berthing was gray water, though we did get it every single sea and anchor or restricted waters transit. My favorite was when they'd dumped a ton of refried beans into the system and we had soggy, wet, refried beans coming out of the deck drains and flooding the berthing to a depth of ~6 inches. Took weeks to get the smell out and I still can't eat refried beans.. Good times.
 
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