Surface Warfare Officers (SWOs) serve in every type of surface ship in the Navy. When you are selected for surface warfare, you have the opportunity to choose the type of ship and home port of your first duty assignment. Then, after graduation from the Academy, you report to your ship. Your first tour of duty lasts about 24 months.
A new ensign typically serves as a division officer, with responsibilities for leading 12 to 50 enlisted personnel and directing a portion of the ship's equipment and operations. Typical positions include those of anti-submarine warfare officer, gunnery officer, communications officer and damage control assistant. In addition, you are expected to work toward qualification as combat information center watch officer, officer of the deck and Navy surface warfare officer.
What is surface warfare?
The Surface Fleet is the backbone of America’s Navy. For 240 years the men and women of the Surface Navy been homeported and deployed around the globe. Today’s Surface Fleet conducts a wide variety of missions across nine different ship classes.
We are Surface Warfare - Hear Our Story
LT Shun White
Weapons Tactics Instructor
"I've always loved the tactics part of being a SWO. To me, it is an extension of how I grew up thinking about tactics on the football field. I get the same rush preparing for an Air Warfare or Ballistic Missile Defense scenario as I did for a big game; the difference is that now so much more is on the line.
I’m fighting for something so much bigger than I could have dreamed before. Similar to football, I feel like I worked really hard to get good at my skill set and now I was selected for the Varsity team when the SWO community selected me for the Weapons Tactics Instructor (WTI) program. It lets me continue to hone those skills of warfighting while teaching and leading others."
LT Matt Harris
Department Head“I’m now a Department Head on the newest type of warship, LCS. Every day I’m amazed at the quality of Sailors that we have the honor of leading. I told myself as a Midshipmen I’d keep doing this job as long as I’m having fun; and I don’t have any intention of stopping soon!”
LCDR Jonathan Long
"Perhaps my most poignant leadership moment was during my first division officer tour. I was still an Ensign and had the deck as OOD.
Our Strike Group Commander was aboard, having previously commanded the ship. As we were approaching position as the center ship when engineering called up with a casualty.
Without hesitation I analyzed the situation - our speed, nearby hazards, and weighing the options I gave my Conning Officer direction while directing my JOOD and TAO in Combat to contact the other ships of my intentions.
Fortunately, our engineers were able to quickly clear the casualty allowing the ship to join the formation safely. For the first time I was able to demonstrate my understanding of the ship and her crew and take charge, but knew I had a help ready to assist if required. As an ensign in that high pressure situation it felt good to be trusted and encouraged."
LTJG Marina Nanartowich
“I remember my first underway as a Surface Warfare Officer. Despite all the training I had received in school and leading up to getting underway, nothing quite prepared me for the way the decks came alive as we set sail.
In the days, and now years to follow, I am continually blown away by the impressive service and the amazing group of people of which I am able to be a part. The Navy has afforded me many amazing opportunities. I have travelled to places I never imagined going, driven warships in foreign waters, and been tested professionally in ways that have helped me become who I am today.
But above all, it’s the people. It is the bonds you make with people from all over the world and it’s the amazing Sailors who work so hard every day and exhibit unmatched patriotism. It is inspiring. I’m honored to serve.”