NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) -- Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS) graduated 65 new surface warfare department heads, during a ceremony held onboard Naval Station Newport at the Admiral Michael G. Mullen Auditorium July 12.
The 27-week Department Head Course remains the flagship course at SWOS, designed to prepare graduates for tours as department heads on all class of ships within the fleet.
"It was a pretty intense course," said Lt. Marley Cassels of Columbia, Missouri, who is heading to USS Mustin (DDG-89) homeported in Yokosuka, Japan for her next assignment. "I'm excited to go back to sea because it's always a new adventure.
"You don't know what's coming other than what you heard from other people, but you are amped up at the same time because you spent the last 6 months trying to learn how to be the best tactical action officer you can be and now you can go and apply all those things."
The Department Head Course is divided into two major subdivisions. The first is tactical action officer, which focuses on areas such as undersea warfare, air defense, surface warfare, and expeditionary operations. The second is operations, readiness, training, and engineering, which explores the specifics of each student's prospective assignment.
"I felt I had some really good training on my first ship," said Cassels. "Then coming here, you get to go through some of the simulators, put things into action, and we delved a lot deeper on topics that we don't spend a lot time on during our first tours."
In his opening remarks, Capt. Scott Robertson, commanding officer of SWOS, welcomed family members and congratulated the graduates for their professional milestone.
"My staff and I hope you that you have been stretched professionally by this course, and I know each and every one of you have grown in your level of competency, and you are ready for the challenges ahead," said Robertson.
The graduates will report to their assigned ships within the coming weeks to begin their 18 or 36-month tours.
"It was very interesting to find out what I didn't know and how much there was to learn," said Lt. Ross Hammerer of Springfield, Virginia, who reports next to USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53) homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. "The course did a great job challenging me and giving as much instruction as they could in order to make us well prepared to go out and rejoin the fleet."
During the ceremony, Robertson reflected on the department head's role of boldly leading and delivering motivated, inspired Sailors to meet the mission.
"Learning the material, interacting with my staff members, practicing ship handling in the simulators are one facet in your preparation," said Robertson. "The other was to get you mentally ready for arguably the most challenging, but most rewarding, tours you will face as a surface warfare officer (SWO)."
The guest speaker for the event, Richard Callas, executive director of SWOS, also described the opportunities ahead of the graduates.
"Nowhere in your career will you have more responsibilities and more burdens placed on your shoulders as such a junior individual with just a couple of years of sea experience," said Callas. "SWOs are the toughest, strongest and most durable of any officer community in any service. We know how to organize and get things done. Be tough, keep charging every day."
Lt. Samantha Margolis received the Top Snipe Award as the prospective engineering officer with the highest grade point average in the engineering curriculum. Lt. Robert Jaindl earned the Top Gunner Award as the prospective department head with the highest grade point average in the tactical action officer curriculum and also the Newport Navy League Award for academic excellence as the top graduate. Lt. Scott Margolis was selected for the City of Newport Award for demonstrating the highest qualities of professionalism and leadership. The class chose Lt. Joseph Giuda for the Arleigh Burke Award for his leadership, industry and perseverance.
Approximately 275 students attend the Department Head Course each year.
Headquartered in Newport, Rhode Island, and overseeing nine learning site worldwide, SWOS readies sea-bound Sailors to serve on surface combatants as officers, enlisted engineers, and enlisted navigation professional to fulfill the Navy's mission to maintain global maritime superiority.
For more information about SWOS, visit http://www.netc.navy.mil/centers/swos/ or http://www.facebook.com/SWOSCOLCOM/.
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