SAN DIEGO -- Ens. Lauren Hood, USS Boxer’s Operations Intelligence Division Officer, a Naples, Florida native, was awarded her 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.
“This is one of the proudest days of my life,” said Hood, addressing fellow officers in the wardroom during the ceremony.
Surface warfare officers have 18 months from the time they are gained on 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.
Hood originally wanted to be a police officer like her father. When he convinced her that other careers might be able to take her further, her desire to serve and protect led her to become a Naval Officer.
“Now that I’ve been here, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Hood. “I get paid to drive around billions of dollars worth of Navy equipment and to see things that other people my age never get to see.”
Hood studied for 2-3 hours a day for two weeks leading up to her board, and for an hour a day in the weeks before that.
“There is an inexhaustible supply of help on the ship,” said Hood. “My department heads and fellow officers have been fantastic, and my parents at home keep me even-keeled. Now that I’m qualified it’s my responsibility to help my fellow junior officers.”
Next, Hood would like to earn her Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW) certification and look for orders on a smaller ship in Everett, Washington.
“We can make that happen,” said Rowden during the ceremony, after asking Hood and the other SWO pin recipient what their plans for the future are.
The SWO pin is not a qualification that an officer can achieve by themselves, according to Hood. The most difficult part of the qualification is understanding the role of an amphibious assault ship in the fleet and how all of the individual ship functions affect one another.
“I’m trying to emulate my department heads’ ability to be a source of knowledge for the Sailors that work for them,” said Hood. “Now I know for sure that this is where I belong, and I want to move to other platforms and experience them.”
Hood intends to make the Navy a career.
“Eventually I think it’d be awesome to captain a ship,” said Hood. “All of these doors are open for me now that I’m qualified.”