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Surface Warfare Officer

US Navy surface warfare officers train on ship.

Surface Warfare Officer

America’s Navy has the most modern, advanced fleet of ships in the entire world. Surface Warfare Officers (SWOs) are trained extensively to maintain and operate these ships, their crews and their systems. Providing direction. Leading by example.

America’s Navy has the most modern, advanced fleet of ships in the entire world. Surface Warfare Officers (SWOs) are trained extensively to maintain and operate these ships, their crews and their systems. Providing direction. Leading by example.

Drawn to the adventure of serving at sea? Find out what it’s like to live and work on a ship.
US Navy commanding officer discusses mission with crew member.

About This Job

Surface Warfare Officers form the backbone of Fleet leadership. In this role, you will have the opportunity to excel as a leader. You could serve as Commanding Officer over an elite crew and be an authority in every aspect of your Navy assignments. Doing any or all of the following:

  • Directing personnel operations aboard Navy vessels, such as aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, amphibious warfare ships, mine warfare ships and frigates
  • Managing shipboard vertical launch systems
  • Using computer displays and advanced technology in battle and ship defense
  • Providing support to Navy expeditionary forces, Theater Air Missile operations, anti-submarine warfare, surface-to-air warfare, and support and supply missions
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part time
full time
Full Time
Part Time

Surface Warfare Officers are involved in virtually every aspect of Navy missions. As a SWO, you may be in charge of any number of shipboard operations and activities while at sea, working with or within any of these specialized forces:

Aircraft Carrier Forces: Provide and coordinate air, submarine and surface ship defense for aircraft carriers

Cruiser-Destroyer Forces: Provide ship attack and defensive measures with a wide array of missile and fire power capabilities, providing anti-air, -submarine and -surface warfare support

Amphibious Forces: Embark and transport vehicles, equipment and personnel for amphibious assault operations

Combat-Logistics Forces: Provide combatant ships with fuel, ammunition, food and supplies, and provide repair, maintenance and rescue capabilities through Fleet Support Ships

Mine Warfare Forces: Detect, identify and neutralize threats from hostile use of maritime mines

You may also be interested in becoming a Surface Warfare Officer within the prestigious Navy Nuclear community, where you will have the opportunity to work on some of the world’s most powerful nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers.

Full Time
Part Time

Currently, this position in the Navy Reserve is open only to prior-service or currently serving (NAVET) Navy Surface Warfare Officers.

Serving part-time as a Reservist, your duties will be carried out during your scheduled drilling and training periods. During monthly drilling, Surface Warfare Officers in the Navy Reserve typically work at a location close to their homes.

For Annual Training, IPs may serve anywhere in the world, whether on a ship at sea or in command and management positions at shore bases and stations across the globe.

Take a moment to learn more about the general roles and responsibilities of Reservists.

Full Time
Part Time

Currently, this position in the Navy Reserve is open only to prior-service or currently serving (NAVET) Navy Surface Warfare Officers.

Most of what you do in the Navy Reserve is considered training. The basic Navy Reserve commitment involves training a minimum of one weekend a month (referred to as drilling) and two weeks a year (referred to as Annual Training) – or the equivalent of that.

Surface Warfare Officers in the Navy Reserve serve in an Officer role. Your prior experience satisfies the initial leadership training requirement – so you will not need to go through Officer Training again.

Full Time
Part Time

Beyond professional credentials and certifications, Information Professionals can advance their education by:

Full Time
Part Time

A four-year degree from an accredited U.S. college or university is required to become a Surface Warfare Officer. There are different ways to become a SWO. If you're a high school student or an undergraduate, you can enter through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) or through the U.S. Naval Academy. Those already having a degree attend Officer Candidate School (OCS), a 12-week Navy school in Newport, R.I.

To be an eligible candidate, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be at least 19 years of age and no older than 29 at the time of commissioning
  • Meet the Navy's physical standards

General qualifications may vary depending upon whether you’re currently serving, whether you’ve served before or whether you’ve never served before.

ENJOY AN INCREDIBLE BENEFITS PACKAGE.
Paid training. Competitive salary. Comprehensive health coverage. Generous vacation. World travel. The list goes on.
US Navy servicemen raise US flag.
US Navy servicemen raise US flag.