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SWO life questions

Origin1776

SWO 03/06/2022
Whats up guys. Im attending OCS on 03062022 and am extremely excited to serve this country as a surface warfare officer. I generated this thread for anyone who would feel so inclined to share their experiences, advice, or feedback to educate this Navy wannabe :mad: Primarily im curious about a few things: How do rotations and deployments work and what am I really getting myself into? What are some ways to be an effective and dependable officer on a ship, and earn respect among the crew? Do promotions depend on qualifications? What are the most desired jobs, pathways, or careers as a SWO (i.e. re-enlisting, civlian jobs, etc)?
I'm counting down the days until OCS and greatly appreciate everyone's service and time.
 

Larick

Well-Known Member
None
Contributor
Your deployment cycle will depend on your timing when you show up and the ships. You go through various certifications in a cycle leading up to deployment, then do it all over again. Think of it like a crawl-walk-run cycle. If timing works out for both you and the ship, you can probably squeeze in 2 deployments. Heck you might not even deploy. I’ve seen both happen.

Be humble, get qualified quickly, take care of your junior Sailors, don’t be a dirtbag, be human, and don’t sleep with the help. But also don’t fall into the likership mentality. You’re paid to be a leader.

Promotions are guaranteed from O1 to O3 as long as youre breathing correctly and have a pulse. Just don’t get in trouble. Going up for O4+, quals as well as successful sea tours, competitive FITREPS, hitting career milestones, and taking high vis jobs all play a factor when you go up in a promotion board.

Pathway for a SWO is literally a sea duty/shore rotation on repeat. If you wanna go far as a SWO, then have amazing and successful sea tours and work at high vis jobs, such as N96 in the Pentagon or work at PERS in Millington. You essentially get to pick your next job after doing a tour at one of those places. Not required, but it’s nice to control your career in that kind of way. Trade off is you work really hard on shore duty. There are career milestones you’ll need to hit as well. Those are in the SWO community brief and I can post that when I get on a computer that can provide good SWO career info/planning.

Enjoy OCS and Newport. You’re showing up at a good time.
 

Attachments

  • SWO Community Brief - as of 08SEP2021.pdf
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AllAmerican75

Running the IT Help Desk
None
Contributor
Whats up guys. Im attending OCS on 03062022 and am extremely excited to serve this country as a surface warfare officer. I generated this thread for anyone who would feel so inclined to share their experiences, advice, or feedback to educate this Navy wannabe :mad: Primarily im curious about a few things: How do rotations and deployments work and what am I really getting myself into? What are some ways to be an effective and dependable officer on a ship, and earn respect among the crew? Do promotions depend on qualifications? What are the most desired jobs, pathways, or careers as a SWO (i.e. re-enlisting, civlian jobs, etc)?
I'm counting down the days until OCS and greatly appreciate everyone's service and time.

You will have hard, boring days as a SWO but then you will also have days where you get to re-enlist one of your hot running Sailors. You'll have times where you're in charge of fighting the ship and directing air and surface assets to hunt a foreign submarine at night, while preparing for an Underway Replenishment. You'll have a fresh cup of coffee and a hot cinnamon bun (It's good to be friends with the cooks and FSAs) while watching the sunrise over Malta and knowing that in a few hours you'll be sitting in a cafe drinking cappuccinos and exploring ancient ruins. You'll be entrusted to take a boarding team onto another vessel over the horizon and bring them home safely. You'll have stories to tell your grandchildren and then be able to pull out the mementos to prove that you were there. You'll be able to be stationed in foreign ports and take your family around the world. You'll have something to look back upon proudly and know that you did something significant.

As a brand new ensign, go to the ship that will get you qualified the fastest and has the best deployment schedule. Getting stuck in the yards will be a bad deal and having a shitty wardroom or no other ensigns can make getting qualified a bitch because your needs to get qualified will be forgotten about. So choose an typical ship like an DDG or LSD/LPD and learn as much as you can about the community and then make your choices from there about what interests you. Timing will play a big role and you may or may not have anything decent on your slate when you roll to your second DIVO tour and shore tour.

When it comes to ship selection, I would take a DDG that's an independent deployer (all the ships in Rota, a few in each fleet concentration area) over anything. You'll get more sea time (crucial for getting qualified) and won't have to play silly strike group games (which can kill your chances of getting qualified on time). If you can't get an independent deployer DDG, snag a "small" gator (LSD or LPD). They have a simpler qual process (not as many combat systems). O6 commands (CGs, LPDs, and LHDs/LHAs) are larger, which means more ensigns jockeying for time doing UNREPS, flight quarters, etc. Ideally, you want to be 1 of 2-3 ensigns showing up to the ship about the same time which is enough to motivate the CO/XO/Dept Heads to get you qualified but small enough to actually manage getting you qualified.

As an ensign, getting qualified is the name of the game and should be your top focus. Once you have a SWO pin, you can focus on cool things and talk more openly about career options. For a second tour (provided you want to keep doing SWO stuff as a career), I highly recommend doing a tour on a PC or Minesweep. It will give you an immense amount of leadership experience as well as knowledge of how an entire ship functions and how the DH and XO/CO life really is. If you decide you don't want to do SWO stuff for the rest of your career, chose a second tour and shore tour which will set you up for success in whatever it is you DO want to do after you leave the SWO community (either through redesignation or punching out of the service). If you decide to punch out, there aren't many careers that your time as a SWO will directly translate to. If you don't mind being at sea but want less nonsense, I would look at working on your tonnage license while a DivO (AFTER you get your SWO pin!!!!). It requires extra work but can pay dividends, especially if you join Military Sealift Command. Otherwise, find some good head hunters who can help you make the military to civilian transition and think about doing the Reserves so you at least get something from the Navy for your troubles (Tricare coverage can be crucial with the current state of post-Obamacare civilian medical insurance). Either way, cross that future career path bridge when you get there. You've got a long way to go yet.
 

Origin1776

SWO 03/06/2022
You will have hard, boring days as a SWO but then you will also have days where you get to re-enlist one of your hot running Sailors. You'll have times where you're in charge of fighting the ship and directing air and surface assets to hunt a foreign submarine at night, while preparing for an Underway Replenishment. You'll have a fresh cup of coffee and a hot cinnamon bun (It's good to be friends with the cooks and FSAs) while watching the sunrise over Malta and knowing that in a few hours you'll be sitting in a cafe drinking cappuccinos and exploring ancient ruins. You'll be entrusted to take a boarding team onto another vessel over the horizon and bring them home safely. You'll have stories to tell your grandchildren and then be able to pull out the mementos to prove that you were there. You'll be able to be stationed in foreign ports and take your family around the world. You'll have something to look back upon proudly and know that you did something significant.

As a brand new ensign, go to the ship that will get you qualified the fastest and has the best deployment schedule. Getting stuck in the yards will be a bad deal and having a shitty wardroom or no other ensigns can make getting qualified a bitch because your needs to get qualified will be forgotten about. So choose an typical ship like an DDG or LSD/LPD and learn as much as you can about the community and then make your choices from there about what interests you. Timing will play a big role and you may or may not have anything decent on your slate when you roll to your second DIVO tour and shore tour.

When it comes to ship selection, I would take a DDG that's an independent deployer (all the ships in Rota, a few in each fleet concentration area) over anything. You'll get more sea time (crucial for getting qualified) and won't have to play silly strike group games (which can kill your chances of getting qualified on time). If you can't get an independent deployer DDG, snag a "small" gator (LSD or LPD). They have a simpler qual process (not as many combat systems). O6 commands (CGs, LPDs, and LHDs/LHAs) are larger, which means more ensigns jockeying for time doing UNREPS, flight quarters, etc. Ideally, you want to be 1 of 2-3 ensigns showing up to the ship about the same time which is enough to motivate the CO/XO/Dept Heads to get you qualified but small enough to actually manage getting you qualified.

As an ensign, getting qualified is the name of the game and should be your top focus. Once you have a SWO pin, you can focus on cool things and talk more openly about career options. For a second tour (provided you want to keep doing SWO stuff as a career), I highly recommend doing a tour on a PC or Minesweep. It will give you an immense amount of leadership experience as well as knowledge of how an entire ship functions and how the DH and XO/CO life really is. If you decide you don't want to do SWO stuff for the rest of your career, chose a second tour and shore tour which will set you up for success in whatever it is you DO want to do after you leave the SWO community (either through redesignation or punching out of the service). If you decide to punch out, there aren't many careers that your time as a SWO will directly translate to. If you don't mind being at sea but want less nonsense, I would look at working on your tonnage license while a DivO (AFTER you get your SWO pin!!!!). It requires extra work but can pay dividends, especially if you join Military Sealift Command. Otherwise, find some good head hunters who can help you make the military to civilian transition and think about doing the Reserves so you at least get something from the Navy for your troubles (Tricare coverage can be crucial with the current state of post-Obamacare civilian medical insurance). Either way, cross that future career path bridge when you get there. You've got a long way to go yet.
You’re apart of the damn good few for this valuable information, sir
 

Griz882

Livin' On the Right Side of the River From Pags!
pilot
Contributor
Great post @AllAmerican75 ! When I got NAMI’d I ended up with a pretty shitty job until a good leader decided I should have other options. I was sent to a Knox class frigate and had a blast getting my quals and cruising around the Pacific. Even back then I was way outside the typical career path and knew it wasn’t going to work out, but the things you describe are true and meaningful - even the dull parts.
 

Rayz551

Active Member
You will have hard, boring days as a SWO but then you will also have days where you get to re-enlist one of your hot running Sailors. You'll have times where you're in charge of fighting the ship and directing air and surface assets to hunt a foreign submarine at night, while preparing for an Underway Replenishment. You'll have a fresh cup of coffee and a hot cinnamon bun (It's good to be friends with the cooks and FSAs) while watching the sunrise over Malta and knowing that in a few hours you'll be sitting in a cafe drinking cappuccinos and exploring ancient ruins. You'll be entrusted to take a boarding team onto another vessel over the horizon and bring them home safely. You'll have stories to tell your grandchildren and then be able to pull out the mementos to prove that you were there. You'll be able to be stationed in foreign ports and take your family around the world. You'll have something to look back upon proudly and know that you did something significant.

As a brand new ensign, go to the ship that will get you qualified the fastest and has the best deployment schedule. Getting stuck in the yards will be a bad deal and having a shitty wardroom or no other ensigns can make getting qualified a bitch because your needs to get qualified will be forgotten about. So choose an typical ship like an DDG or LSD/LPD and learn as much as you can about the community and then make your choices from there about what interests you. Timing will play a big role and you may or may not have anything decent on your slate when you roll to your second DIVO tour and shore tour.

When it comes to ship selection, I would take a DDG that's an independent deployer (all the ships in Rota, a few in each fleet concentration area) over anything. You'll get more sea time (crucial for getting qualified) and won't have to play silly strike group games (which can kill your chances of getting qualified on time). If you can't get an independent deployer DDG, snag a "small" gator (LSD or LPD). They have a simpler qual process (not as many combat systems). O6 commands (CGs, LPDs, and LHDs/LHAs) are larger, which means more ensigns jockeying for time doing UNREPS, flight quarters, etc. Ideally, you want to be 1 of 2-3 ensigns showing up to the ship about the same time which is enough to motivate the CO/XO/Dept Heads to get you qualified but small enough to actually manage getting you qualified.

As an ensign, getting qualified is the name of the game and should be your top focus. Once you have a SWO pin, you can focus on cool things and talk more openly about career options. For a second tour (provided you want to keep doing SWO stuff as a career), I highly recommend doing a tour on a PC or Minesweep. It will give you an immense amount of leadership experience as well as knowledge of how an entire ship functions and how the DH and XO/CO life really is. If you decide you don't want to do SWO stuff for the rest of your career, chose a second tour and shore tour which will set you up for success in whatever it is you DO want to do after you leave the SWO community (either through redesignation or punching out of the service). If you decide to punch out, there aren't many careers that your time as a SWO will directly translate to. If you don't mind being at sea but want less nonsense, I would look at working on your tonnage license while a DivO (AFTER you get your SWO pin!!!!). It requires extra work but can pay dividends, especially if you join Military Sealift Command. Otherwise, find some good head hunters who can help you make the military to civilian transition and think about doing the Reserves so you at least get something from the Navy for your troubles (Tricare coverage can be crucial with the current state of post-Obamacare civilian medical insurance). Either way, cross that future career path bridge when you get there. You've got a long way to go yet.


Great write-up. Gives really helpful insight into the SWO life. Thank you for taking the time to write about it.

For "As a brand new ensign, go to the ship that will get you qualified the fastest and has the best deployment schedule."
  1. When coming out of OCS and picking your ship, will they provide information on the deployment schedule of each ship? Or how would one be able to attain or know to factor this into ship selection?
  2. I'm assuming when working with a detailer that the deployment schedule will be provided for the selection process?
 

AllAmerican75

Running the IT Help Desk
None
Contributor
Great write-up. Gives really helpful insight into the SWO life. Thank you for taking the time to write about it.

For "As a brand new ensign, go to the ship that will get you qualified the fastest and has the best deployment schedule."
  1. When coming out of OCS and picking your ship, will they provide information on the deployment schedule of each ship? Or how would one be able to attain or know to factor this into ship selection?
  2. I'm assuming when working with a detailer that the deployment schedule will be provided for the selection process?

Talk to your class officer (likely a SWO, many guys waiting to class up at SWOS get stashed at OTCN). He/she will likely help with reaching out and learning about what the ship is going through. Some of it is just a crapshoot. Also, unless the process has changed, you won't be dealing with PERS-41 at all. The detailer will simply cut your orders after selection and you'll receive them in your check-out/grad packet.


Speaking of grad packets, are they still handing out dog tags in them? Ensign AA75 thought that was pretty damn cool.
 

Origin1776

SWO 03/06/2022
You will have hard, boring days as a SWO but then you will also have days where you get to re-enlist one of your hot running Sailors. You'll have times where you're in charge of fighting the ship and directing air and surface assets to hunt a foreign submarine at night, while preparing for an Underway Replenishment. You'll have a fresh cup of coffee and a hot cinnamon bun (It's good to be friends with the cooks and FSAs) while watching the sunrise over Malta and knowing that in a few hours you'll be sitting in a cafe drinking cappuccinos and exploring ancient ruins. You'll be entrusted to take a boarding team onto another vessel over the horizon and bring them home safely. You'll have stories to tell your grandchildren and then be able to pull out the mementos to prove that you were there. You'll be able to be stationed in foreign ports and take your family around the world. You'll have something to look back upon proudly and know that you did something significant.

As a brand new ensign, go to the ship that will get you qualified the fastest and has the best deployment schedule. Getting stuck in the yards will be a bad deal and having a shitty wardroom or no other ensigns can make getting qualified a bitch because your needs to get qualified will be forgotten about. So choose an typical ship like an DDG or LSD/LPD and learn as much as you can about the community and then make your choices from there about what interests you. Timing will play a big role and you may or may not have anything decent on your slate when you roll to your second DIVO tour and shore tour.

When it comes to ship selection, I would take a DDG that's an independent deployer (all the ships in Rota, a few in each fleet concentration area) over anything. You'll get more sea time (crucial for getting qualified) and won't have to play silly strike group games (which can kill your chances of getting qualified on time). If you can't get an independent deployer DDG, snag a "small" gator (LSD or LPD). They have a simpler qual process (not as many combat systems). O6 commands (CGs, LPDs, and LHDs/LHAs) are larger, which means more ensigns jockeying for time doing UNREPS, flight quarters, etc. Ideally, you want to be 1 of 2-3 ensigns showing up to the ship about the same time which is enough to motivate the CO/XO/Dept Heads to get you qualified but small enough to actually manage getting you qualified.

As an ensign, getting qualified is the name of the game and should be your top focus. Once you have a SWO pin, you can focus on cool things and talk more openly about career options. For a second tour (provided you want to keep doing SWO stuff as a career), I highly recommend doing a tour on a PC or Minesweep. It will give you an immense amount of leadership experience as well as knowledge of how an entire ship functions and how the DH and XO/CO life really is. If you decide you don't want to do SWO stuff for the rest of your career, chose a second tour and shore tour which will set you up for success in whatever it is you DO want to do after you leave the SWO community (either through redesignation or punching out of the service). If you decide to punch out, there aren't many careers that your time as a SWO will directly translate to. If you don't mind being at sea but want less nonsense, I would look at working on your tonnage license while a DivO (AFTER you get your SWO pin!!!!). It requires extra work but can pay dividends, especially if you join Military Sealift Command. Otherwise, find some good head hunters who can help you make the military to civilian transition and think about doing the Reserves so you at least get something from the Navy for your troubles (Tricare coverage can be crucial with the current state of post-Obamacare civilian medical insurance). Either way, cross that future career path bridge when you get there. You've got a long way to go yet.
Hey quick question. I won’t find out where I’m getting stationed or what ships are available until like week 6 of OCS. I know I need to focus on what’s right in front of me but is there any way to find information about what’s available or where I’ll be? My recruiter doesn’t have access to that info. Also, as far as designations. At what point or what depends onwhat my specific job I’ll have as a SWO?
 

Origin1776

SWO 03/06/2022
Great post @AllAmerican75 ! When I got NAMI’d I ended up with a pretty shitty job until a good leader decided I should have other options. I was sent to a Knox class frigate and had a blast getting my quals and cruising around the Pacific. Even back then I was way outside the typical career path and knew it wasn’t going to work out, but the things you describe are true and meaningful - even the dull parts.
What is getting “NAMI’d” and why does it determine what job you have?
 

Griz882

Livin' On the Right Side of the River From Pags!
pilot
Contributor
What is getting “NAMI’d” and why does it determine what job you have?
If you are going SWO it is not an issue. In the case of aviators it means the Navy has determined you are not medically fit to fly military aircraft.
 

Origin1776

SWO 03/06/2022
If you are going SWO it is not an issue. In the case of aviators it means the Navy has determined you are not medically fit to fly military aircraft.
Copy that. So they pretty much threw you into a random job when you got NAMI’d? It seems like medical fitness should be determined before you sign the dotted line but i guess that’s the nature of the beast.
 

Griz882

Livin' On the Right Side of the River From Pags!
pilot
Contributor
Copy that. So they pretty much threw you into a random job when you got NAMI’d? It seems like medical fitness should be determined before you sign the dotted line but i guess that’s the nature of the beast.
Normally it is. I was in an accident at the end of my flight training that put a stop to my military flying. As to the next part, please note that I entered many years ago (back when there was a different OCS for aviators) and things may be quite different now, yes…in my day they stashed people like me in odd places.
 

Origin1776

SWO 03/06/2022
Normally it is. I was in an accident at the end of my flight training that put a stop to my military flying. As to the next part, please note that I entered many years ago (back when there was a different OCS for aviators) and things may be quite different now, yes…in my day they stashed people like me in odd places.
Well, I’m happy for you that you were able to still have a good experience and see the world. And thank you for your service! I am hoping to be as good of a leader like those whom you served with.
 

AllAmerican75

Running the IT Help Desk
None
Contributor
Hey quick question. I won’t find out where I’m getting stationed or what ships are available until like week 6 of OCS. I know I need to focus on what’s right in front of me but is there any way to find information about what’s available or where I’ll be? My recruiter doesn’t have access to that info. Also, as far as designations. At what point or what depends onwhat my specific job I’ll have as a SWO?

You're worrying about the wrong things here. Ultimately, you have very little control of where you go once you get to OCS. You need to make peace with that and stop trying to work the system right now. In fact, you will likely have little control over where you go for the next 8 years of your career until you make your bones as a department head and start getting slotted into the OPS, WEPS/CSO, CHENG pipeline. This is because you are a prospective JO and haven't gotten enough experience to break you apart from the thousands of other junior SWOs. That won't happen until you're a department head, at which point the powers that be will start racking and stacking the senior O3s and O4s to get them ready for command.

But don't worry too much, your class officer and/or staff officers at OTCN will likely have the inside skinny on where the ships on the available list are and what their schedules look like. Worry about that when the time comes. Also understand that the ships that are available now, likely won't be available when you get to OCS. My class didn't have a single ship available in Norfolk, and I didn't even get to choose since I was up for orders at the same time that the Academy kids were doing ship selection. You could very well end up in that same position so there is no way to plan right now.

Copy that. So they pretty much threw you into a random job when you got NAMI’d? It seems like medical fitness should be determined before you sign the dotted line but i guess that’s the nature of the beast.

It's not exactly random. I could have gone and become a submariner, but I have/had no desire to ever become a Nuke. Also, due to funding, resources, manpower, etc. it is not practical to give every single recruit a full form flight physical, hence you get a basic DODMERB at MEPS and then get the full work up once you get to OCS. Really, you have to make your peace with the fact that many of your career decisions will be at the mercy of the Needs of the Navy™ from now until you walk across the brow for the final time.
 
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