SAN DIEGO - Ens. Sebastian Delossantos, USS Boxer’s Communications Interior (CI) Division Officer, a New Smyrna Beach, Florida native, was awarded his Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) pin by Vice Adm. Thomas S. Rowden, Commander, Naval Surface Forces, in the wardroom aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) Feb. 9.
“My pinning ceremony was a blast,” said Delossantos, “It was a privilege to have my first SWO pin put on by admiral Rowden. In fact, he gave me the pin he was wearing. To me it marked, not only the passing down of Navy knowledge, but of Navy legacy and tradition.”
Surface warfare officers have 18 months from the time they report to a ship to qualify for their SWO pin. Through intensive study of shipboard operations, surface warfare officers gain a working knowledge of how all systems and platforms work together and function and then demonstrate that knowledge as a last step before they are awarded their pin.
“The process of earning the SWO pin is fairly complex and lengthy,” said Delossantos. “It includes formal schooling, and a high volume of ‘on the job’ training.”
Each individual personal qualification standard (PQS) for the program requires its own separate academic endeavors with varying levels of difficulty and different exams and/or boards. The SWO board is the most intimidating of all, according to Delossantos, because almost any Navy-related topic is “fair game.”
Delossantos comes from an enlisted aviation background, and was used to a different approach to learning, according to him. Becoming surface warfare qualified while standing watch, getting less sleep and trying to run a division and still maintaining physical readiness standards was a significant challenge for him.
He credits this success to support from his divisions, fellow officers and chain of command.
“Due to the depth and breadth of knowledge required, earning the SWO pin can only be accomplished via team effort,” said Delossantos. “Divisional personnel, chiefs, department heads and Sailors from all rates and departments contribute to the process by providing vital knowledge and support.”
Next, Delossantos hopes to be stationed in Mayport, closer to home, and work in shipboard navigation or as a force security officer.
“Navigation is the classic mariner’s trade job,” said Delossantos. “It’s high in responsibility and has a very direct impact on the ship.”
Delossantos has had an interesting career, moving from an enlisted Naval Aircrewman (Tactical Helicopter) to a surface warfare officer. He said his primary goal is to keep moving.
“The SWO pin is the critical gateway, a baseline of knowledge, through which all must pass to certify their worth and ability to continue down the path to department head, commanding officer and beyond,” said Delossantos. “The volume of knowledge and experience I acquired throughout the process exponentially increased my ability to lead in any environment.”