SAN DIEGO (Feb 2, 2019) – Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS) hosted a standing-room only crowd for the graduation of 120 Basic Division Officer Course (BDOC) students at Naval Base San Diego’s Training Support Center, Feb. 1.
BDOC is an intense course that provides foundational classroom and simulator training in division officer fundamentals for prospective surface warfare officers (SWO). It is the first step along the SWO career path, which can lead to command at sea.
Ship wardrooms turned out in full force to support their newest BDOC graduates by firing off confetti canons and air horns, while some waved flags and dressed as their ship’s mascots as graduates accepted their certificates.
Capt. Joseph Cahill, director of Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center’s Sea Combat Division served as the guest of honor.
“I’m going to focus on the roles you’re about to take on in this arena: the arena of warships, sailors, and of combat at and from the sea,” said Cahill. “You’re going to lead a division of enlisted crew members, and you’re going to drive your warship. Those two roles are your job, and they’re what we expect you to do in the arena as a division officer.”
Classroom instruction for the students includes shipboard navigation and maritime law, division officer administration, shiphandling, and damage control. Students also receive practical training in the Conning Officer Virtual Environment (COVE) simulator, weapon fundamentals, damage control, and shipboard training. COVE is a virtual-reality technology that provides an immersive experience for students to practice shipboard navigation and shiphandling in a repeatable, safe environment.
“The course is split into modules,” said Lt. Christina Danai, an instructor at BDOC. “Students first learn basic engineering and damage control, then we teach them how to drive the ship, both navigation and shiphandling, and finish by learning division officer-level administration and maritime warfighting.”
Under revisions to the SWO career path, the next group of newly commissioned Ensigns will attend the nine-week BDOC and four-week Junior Officer of the Deck course to prepare them to drive ships and lead at sea. Following completion of these two courses, an Ensign will report to their first warship, where they’ll focus on qualifying as officer of the deck (OOD) and earning their SWO qualification pin.
“It’s significantly more impactful to learn a lot of the basics before going to your ship,” said Ensign Apearre Ao, who reported to and deployed with USS Ashland (LSD 48) before attending BDOC. “When I was on deployment, half the time I didn’t really understand why I was doing what I was doing. But here at BDOC, they do a really great job of taking students from a place of no knowledge and building that into everything you need to know.”
Ensign Kenneth Jemielity was recognized at the graduation as being the top shiphandler in his class. He reports next to the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56), homeported at Naval Base Norfolk.
Ensign William Robins was named the class honor graduate for maintaining the highest class GPA. He has orders to report to the amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27), homeported at Naval Base San Diego.
Headquartered in Newport, Rhode Island, SWOS oversees nine learning sites worldwide that readies seabound Sailors to serve on surface combatants as officers, enlisted engineers, and enlisted navigation professionals to fulfill the Navy’s mission to maintain global maritime superiority.