Early Command is an experience that is highly valued by both the Surface Warfare community and those who serve as Commanding Officers in Mine Countermeasures (MCM) or Patrol Coastal (PC) ships. Because Early Command provides some of our finest Surface Warfare Officers with an invaluable experience leading sailors in crucial missions across the world, we've teamed up with Navy Expeditionary Combat Command to create more opportunities for top performing Junior Officers to serve as Afloat Commanding Officers.
Beginning in November 2017, officers will have an opportunity to screen for O3 / O4 Command Afloat positions in MKVI Patrol Boats. Lieutenants who have completed their 2nd Division Officer tour will be eligible to command a MKVI Patrol Boat. Post-Department Head Lieutenants and Lieutenant Commanders will be eligible to serve as Company Commander for a Company of three MKVI Patrol Boats.
MKVI Patrol Boats are the newest platform in the NECC inventory and are based out of Little Creek, Va., and San Diego, Calif., and deployed to Bahrain and Guam. Over 84 feet in length, the MKVI is a highly capable platform whose primary mission is to provide capability to persistently patrol littoral areas beyond sheltered harbors and bays for the purpose of force protection of friendly and coalition forces and critical infrastructure. These missions include: security force assistance (SFA); high value unit (HVU) shipping escort; visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) operations; and theater security cooperation (TSC). The Mark VI program of record is for a total of 12 boats -- six boats have been delivered to the fleet and six more are to be delivered by the end of the 2nd quarter of fiscal year 2018.
Screening for these new opportunities will be conducted at the November 2017 Early Command Board. Previous Early Command opportunities in MCM and PC ships are still available. These more traditional opportunities for Command Afloat provide significant leadership and operational experience while carrying out missions in C4F, C5F, and C7F. While maintaining readiness for a full spectrum of capabilities, MCMs and PCs execute TSC, HVU escort, and Counter Illicit Trafficking (CIT) operations as well.
―Capt. Rick Cheeseman
NPC, SWO Distro, Pers-41