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You graduated--now what?

One choice: the Fleet
One choice: the FleetPhoto by U.S. Navy/Getty Images

More than half USNA graduates matriculate to the Surface Warfare community where they become Surface Warfare Officers onboard Aircraft Carriers, Cruisers, Destroyers, Frigates, Dock landing ships, and other surface vessels, and manage professional and highly trained Sailors to maintain and operate the ship’s systems.

What do they do? Surface Warfare Officers are involved in virtually every aspect of Navy missions. Antisubmarine warfare, anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, land attack, theatre air missile defense, support for Marine Corps and Navy Special Warfare (SEAL) missions, communications, damage control, and shipboard management all rely on the knowledge and expertise of Officers in the Surface Warfare community. During a sea tour, Surface Warfare Officers are in charge of any number of shipboard operations and activities and work with or within the following forces:

  • Aircraft Carrier Forces: Provide and coordinate air defense from conventional and nuclear-powered carriers
  • Cruiser-Destroyer Forces: Provide ship attack and defense measures with a wide array of missile and fire power capabilities providing antiair, submarine, and surface warfare support
  • Amphibious Forces: Embark and transport vehicles, cargo, and troops for amphibious assault operations
  • Combat-Logistics Forces: Provide combatant ships with fuel, ammunition, food and supplies, and provide repair, maintenance, and rescue capabilities through fleet support ships
  • Mine Warfare Forces: Detect, identify, and neutralize threats to maritime forces from hostile use of mines

Shore duty may involve a tour-of-duty at the Pentagon, a student assignment at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, or command and management positions at shore bases and stations across the globe.

Before the Surface Warfare Officer earns his/her pin (showing s/he has accomplished all hurdles toward this moniker), they attend the Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS) located in Newport, R.I., where they are trained to navigate a virtual vessel through any number of simulated hazards in the school’s full-mission bridge.

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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, CSG Master Teacher, a tech columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, CSG master teacher, and a weekly contributor to Today’s Author. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer.