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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.
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:
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.
As a Surface Warfare Officer, you will work at sea and on shore, in a variety of environments. Sea duty could place you aboard ships within the fleet. Shore duty may involve a tour of duty at the Pentagon; a student assignment at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.; or command and management positions at shore bases and stations around the world.
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.
Unless they have already been commissioned through the Naval Academy or ROTC, those pursuing a Surface Warfare Officer position are required to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Newport, R.I. Newly commissioned SWOs can expect an advanced training process that includes comprehensive training at sea and ashore.
Newly commissioned Surface Warfare Officers will be assigned to a surface ship, leading a team of Sailors responsible for a component of the ship – anything from electronics to weapons to engineering systems. In this setting, Officers are working toward full Surface Warfare qualification.
After completing these initial sea tours, Surface Warfare Officers may be selected to serve on high-level staffs, commands or strategic projects, or they may be selected to work in recruitment. Promotion opportunities are regularly available but competitive and based on performance. It’s also important to note that specialized training received and work experience gained in the course of service can lead to valuable credentialing and occupational opportunities in related fields. The ultimate goal for many: to one day command their own ship.
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.
Beyond professional credentials and certifications, Surface Warfare Officers can advance their education by:
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:
General qualifications may vary depending upon whether you’re currently serving, whether you’ve served before or whether you’ve never served before.