SAN DIEGO – The Surface Warfare Officer Introduction (SWO INTRO) course reached a major milestone May 20, as it graduated its 1,000th student at a ceremony held at Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SURFPAC) headquarters.
The SWO INTRO Course is a four-week course of instruction that was stood up in San Diego at the direction of Vice Adm. D.C. Curtis, Commander, Naval Surface Forces, in August 2008.
“Today is indeed a great day, as we recognize the 1,000th SWO INTRO graduate,” said Curtis. “We established SWO INTRO to ensure our first-term division officers have the basic skills integral to making an immediate impact on their ship, with their Sailors, and setting them up for success. Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback I receive from the waterfront, the course is going strong and the benefit to the fleet is evident.”
Ensign Maurice Croom, from Houston Texas was officially recognized as the 1,000th graduate of the course now in its third year. Croom was commissioned through Officer Candidate School (OCS) and a graduate of Texas A&M University. He currently serves as the Administrative officer in USS Rushmore (LSD 47).
“I am honored to be the 1,000th graduate, after transferring in from another community, I really needed this course. The instructors and guest presenters really made a positive impression on me and I am confident I am ready to do great things on Rushmore,” said Croom.
“As a core ‘Back to Basics’ initiative we wanted to get formal division officer training back in the fleet, after the loss of the 6-month Surface Warfare Officer School Division Officer Course (SWOSDOC) formerly taught in Newport, R.I.,” said Curtis. “We now have the ensigns here on the waterfront for nearly 160 hours of instruction in the practical application of core skills, close to many of the people and training resources we could not provide them at SWOSDOC.”
Students dive into practical, hands-on training to learn about damage control, administration, engineering, navigation, seamanship, ship handling, and maritime warfare during the first four weeks; a fifth and final week is focused on leadership development.
“These students spent the day on the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) to learn 3M spot checks and zone inspections, hours in the shipboard simulator, evolutions in the DC Wet Trainer to learn basic DC and flood management, time on a 7M RHIB in San Diego Harbor for Boat Officer qualification and time on the Weapons Range to qualify with the 9mm pistol,” said Curtis.
Notable moments included the presentation of a set of marine binoculars by Vice Adm. (Ret.) John Nyquist, President of the San Diego Surface Naval Association, to class honor graduate, Ensign Caitlin Castello, 1st Lieutenant of USS Benfold (DDG 65), was also awarded a plaque in acknowledgment of her academic achievement and professionalism. Castello is a recent graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy.
“It’s great to be recognized among an outstanding and motivated peer group,” said Castello. “Really, all of my classmates are honor grads in my book, and I plan on turning to them in the future for questions and help throughout my career. I’m excited to go back to Benfold and apply all the lessons I’ve learned. This is a great milestone, and I’m looking forward to achieving my Surface Warfare Officer qualification, and beyond.”
The SWO INTRO Course is taught by Afloat Training Group (ATG) instructors and various waterfront professionals to include Command Officers, Executive Officers, Department Heads and senior enlisted leaders. The students spend several hours on waterfront ships conducting practical exercises and gaining experience with experienced fleet assessors.
The SWO Intro course is held in San Diego, Norfolk, Va., Mayport, Fla. and Yokosuka, Japan.
For more news from Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, visit www.surfaceforces.surfor.navy.mil or follow the Surface Force at www.facebook.com/SurfaceWarriors.