SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The inaugural class of the Junior Officer of the Deck (JOOD) course graduated during a ceremony at Naval Base San Diego, July 17.
The four-week course, a new addition to the revised Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) career path, includes training in a broad range of integrated bridge fundamentals. With this course, newly commissioned ensigns now attend both the Basic Division Officer Course (BDOC) and JOOD to prepare them to drive ships and lead Sailors.
“The new JOOD course provides exactly the depth and breadth of shiphandling training I wish I would’ve received when I graduated from the Naval Academy as an ensign 27 years ago, said Capt. Chris Alexander, commanding officer, Surface Warfare Officers School. “Between the BDOC and JOOD, the surface community is giving our newest officers more than 130 hours in the simulators. This translates to tangible experience. That is, these officers will report to their ships with the equivalent of more than 40 standard watches.”
Rear Adm. Scott Robertson, commander, Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC), was the graduation’s guest speaker. A former SWOS commanding officer, Robertson told the 30 graduates to continuously pursue excellence.
“Congratulations on completing the first Junior Officer of the Deck course, but I caution you to remember that just like anything, mariner skills are perishable,” said Robertson. “You must continue to dedicate time to studying shiphandling, tactical maneuvering, the rules of the road, and practice frequently in challenging scenarios, in order to grow as both mariners and warfighters. I challenge you to take the jump-start you have been given and become the best ship driver and Surface Warrior in your wardrooms.”
Many junior officers said the course prepared them to accept that challenge.
“At the course, we apply the rules of the road, not just in a book, but in some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and traffic separation schemes in the simulator,” said Ensign Ryan Brennan, assigned to the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52). “The course exceeded my expectations, the resources available are impressive, and it felt like the Navy is really focusing on my training.”
“The best part of the course is that the instructors are really passionate about ship driving,” said Ensign Samuel Weitzman, assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69). “You get to see how the ship moves through the water. Also the ship you are driving [in the simulator] is the actually type of ship you will be serving on.”
“In BDOC, we did a lot of individual training, we were often alone in the simulator,” said Ensign David Grippin, assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89). “At the JOOD course, we worked more as part of a bridge team. Everyone in the simulator sees the same thing. We aren’t just learning how to drive the ship but how to run the bridge.”
Following successful completion of BDOC, JOOD, and the first of 10 assessments along the SWO career path, the ensigns report to their warship. Once there as a Division Officer, they will focus on qualifying as Officers of the Deck (OOD) and work to obtain their SWO pin.
The second JOOD class began July 15, and is all part of an overall process to prepare SWOs from Division Officer to Commanding Officer, ensuring they can drive, fight, and eventually lead combat ready ships to own the fight.
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