Surface Warfare Magazine
Sharing stories and news from Sailors across the U.S. Navy’s Surface Forces
Surface Warfare Officers School
Ready on Arrival

SWOSThe initial qualification process when reporting to a ship can be a daunting one. In addition to regular responsibilities, Personnel Qualification Standards (PQS) are a necessary, yet time-consuming endeavor for Sailors and officers. Time itself is a vital resource – to the individual and the ship. The press to complete qualifications has the potential to rush individuals, limiting retention of the requisite information which in turn can create safety issues. Conversely, an extended qualification process detracts from a Sailor’s ability to contribute to shipboard requirements, or the ship’s overall ability to conduct its mission.

Stay in School

The Surface Warfare Officers School Command (SWOS), headquartered in Newport, Rhode Island, is a place where development takes place. SWOS recently assumed responsibility for training enlisted engineering rates across the surface community, and is responsible for nine learning sites and more than 1,000 courses each year to roughly 67,000 students. The command now seeks to support the CNO’s “Warfighting First” vision by front-loading qualification requirements in the schoolhouse to allow more rapid qualification aboard ships. This, in turn, allows Sailors to achieve higher-level qualifications during a shipboard tour, and to develop deeper proficiency and wider versatility across the spectrum of tasks.

SWOS is in a position to assume a leading role and minimize the time it takes Sailors to qualify once they report aboard their first ship.

“We seek to provide accession Sailors, both enlisted engineers and surface warfare division officers, with the foundational training to minimize the qualification timeline in a variety of roles,” said Capt. Dave Welch, the commanding officer of SWOS. “Any reduction in the amount of time Sailors spend on qualifications at sea is an opportunity to increase the time they spend on warfighting proficiency, technical competency, or material readiness. Additionally, we see this effort as a key component to enhancing retention and preserving quality of life, both in port and at sea.”

Basic 3M and Quality Assurance (QA) training is now included for all students in engineering ratings during the Engineering Professional Apprentice Career Track (EPACT) and Basic Engineering Common Core (BECC) advanced courses at the SWOS Command Unit in Great Lakes. Graduates of these courses complete over 90% of PQS Fundamentals (100 series) towards QA Craftsman and nearly half of the 3M Maintenance Person Fundamentals (100 series). In a continued effort to emphasize 3M adherence and knowledge, a new basic valve maintenance course recently commenced which focuses on the “learn-practice-execute” approach to training.

Where basic damage control (DC) is concerned, SWOS is again seeking to meet the needs of sailors before they enter the fleet. All engineering ratings now receive more than 40 hours of Basic DC training in the schoolhouse. This earns students a recommendation for 20% of Basic DC fundamentals (100 series) and 45% of Systems (200 series) Basic DC PQS requirements.

Verbatim compliance is another concept being impressed upon sailors prior to their transition to the fleet, specifically when it comes to using the Engineering Operational Sequencing System (EOSS). Formal EOSS training is being implemented at the C-school level, with rigorous practical exercises an integral part of the DDG 51 FLT I/II Console Operator Courses.

“The majority of our efforts have focused upon enlisted accession Sailors, but we also spend a significant amount of time on these fundamentals at the Basic Division Officer Course (BDOC), taught in Norfolk and San Diego,” added Welch.

Embedded within the eight-week curriculum, BDOC trains first tour division officers in Anti-terrorism and Force Protection (ATFP) fundamentals, in addition to Basic DC and 3M. In the two years since this course was introduced, fleet feedback indicates division officer qualification timelines for in-port and at-sea watch stations have been dramatically reduced, allowing junior officers to pursue advanced qualifications earlier in their careers.

The Surface Warfare Officers School Command is the "Center of Excellence" for Surface Warfare.

LCS - Looking to the Future

Most sea-going members of the Navy can still remember the day they stepped aboard their first ship… and proceeded to spend the next week getting lost. Shipboard Sailors can also recall the lengthy process of learning where each valve, switch or controller was located, and how to conduct casualty control. The lean manning profile of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) requires every crew member to be qualified upon arrival, codified as a “train to qualify” requirement for this new class of combatant. In short: the schoolhouse must utilize a realistic and rigorous training process to meet full qualification requirements before the Sailor checks aboard – a daunting task.

In order to achieve such a high level of training, SWOS is pursuing a revolutionary change to the training paradigm, utilizing immersive gaming technology to train LCS technicians, operators and watchstanders in engineering, navigation/seamanship/shiphandling, and tactical employment of shipboard weapon systems.

In late 2015, Cubic Corporation will deliver the next chapter of this training vision, the Integrated Virtual Shipboard Environment (IVSE). IVSE is a 3-dimensional, interactive, LCS simulator, complete with voice controls and ultra-realistic sound effects. Following 27 weeks of training, students are taken on board the LCS platform itself for a ship-ride. They are able to find their way to any space, align equipment, and perform casualty control procedures directly from the school house. The virtual environment is effective.

Lt. Cmdr. Eric Traini, the LCS engineering lead at SWOS, said he is sold on the vision.

“IVSE really is the school ship of tomorrow. The cost saving benefits of being able to train in a near-real environment without burning fuel or experiencing wear and tear on our equipment makes this the right training strategy for the current fiscal environment,” said Traini. “Coupled with traditional instructor-led classroom training, this is a powerful tool that will allow us to deliver PQS qualified Sailors, certified watch teams, and Journeyman level maintenance personnel to the fleet straight from the school house.”

The software simulates fires, flammable liquid leaks, equipment casualties, as well as any other potential engineering challenge a Sailor might respond to on board an LCS. Additionally, the technology will talk the student through EOSS controlling actions, with an option to point out mistakes along the way. With three active screens, the student can reference controlling procedures and review them real time, just as they will do aboard ship. Finally, when the student is proficient, the system will administer an assessment to test knowledge retention.

Chief Engineman(SW) Todd Hosselkus, an LCS plankowner and the LCS-2 lead engineering instructor at SWOS, said he is also optimistic about the possibilities that IVSE brings to the table.

“The response to IVSE, particularly from the younger generation of Sailors, has been overwhelming,” said Hosselkus. “This type of training is far more engaging to them than a classroom instructor or CBTs [computer-based training] will ever be. If we could replicate this model for all ships, it would put our training light years ahead of where we are now.”

The idea of replicating this training experience for other ship classes is merely a glimpse of the possibilities that IVSE brings to the table. For now, the software is being developed exclusively to prepare Readiness Control Officers (RCO) serving on the LCS. The technology, however, could be developed for combat systems, operations, and even damage control as well – for any class of ship. The prospect of sailors showing up to their first ship, already knowing their way around, and already having dealt with complex casualties and maintenance procedures offers real promise to return time to sailors and their commands – time which can open doors to new levels of proficiency and readiness.

SWOS will not stand still as the Navy and its training needs evolve. The advent of new training tools and methodologies allows a re-focusing of efforts to put warfighting first. Qualification requirements take up precious man-hours and resources, but SWOS and others are helping the fleet take back its precious man-hours, one at a time. Surface Warfare Magazine

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