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Sea Control by Design

By Vice Adm. Tom Rowden
Commander, Naval Surface Forces

“The U.S. Navy exists to control the sea.”
– Vice Adm. “Hank” Mustin

These were the words Vice Adm. “Hank” Mustin told the USS Miller (FF 1091) wardroom 37 years ago. His guidance to the officers that day would have a profound effect on me, serving as a rhumb line throughout my career. His words are as applicable today as they were nearly four decades ago.

As the Surface Warfare community gathers this week for the annual Surface Navy Association’s National Symposium, I can’t help but reflect upon the evolution of the maritime security environment. We are seeing increased competition for resources and deeper economic ties across the globe, making our Navy and Surface Force more important and relevant than ever. The rapid pace of change in technology and information is light years ahead of when I met Adm. Mustin as a midshipman aboard Miller during my first class cruise. Today’s midshipmen – tomorrow’s leaders – have access to information and technology that we never thought possible 37 years ago, and yet, the challenges they face in the world are similar in character. At the heart of the matter, capability and capacity to impose sea control when and where it matters remains timeless.

To this end, as we have been formalizing the principles of “Distributed Lethality” (DL) in the community, we’ve held true to the idea that as more complex and sophisticated challenges arise, we’ll need the time, training, and resources to keep pace with peer and near-peer competitors in the world. DL asserts that if we make each surface ship more lethal and resilient, it causes potential adversaries a variety of operational problems – problems that force such challengers to dilute their available resources and cause them to allocate a finite number of weapons across a larger number of targets. Indeed, to remain the most powerful Navy, we must constantly adapt to prevail in a new environment of peer-on-peer competition.

No other component of the American military arsenal is more closely connected with the nation’s economic vitality than that of the Surface Force. Twenty-five percent of all U.S. jobs are directly or indirectly tied to global trade; sea control is a must. Our country needs a powerful, forward deployed, lethal, and resilient Surface Force as an integral part of the Navy’s unique role of providing global freedom of the seas.

The Distributed Lethality narrative, which has helped to enhance our ship’s lethality and resilience, as seen by increased emphasis on offensive weapons on ships, really was the underpinning for the Surface Force Strategy, which we released a year ago. The strategy is a coherent approach to the Tactics, Talent, Tools, and Training necessary to achieve the key elements in the Chief of Naval Operation’s Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority vision and places sea control as a central tenet to why we have a Navy. We plotted a course for the community to improve warfighting capabilities and to develop our people.

That being said, maintaining our warfighting edge and achieving our future goals relies on executing the basics of navigation and seamanship. That was not the case in 2017; simply put, it was a tragic year for the Surface Force. Our ships had with two collisions resulting in the loss of 17 American Sailors – their families remain in our hearts. In light of these preventable incidents, our community warranted close examination.

SASEBO, Japan (Sept. 25, 2017) Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander of Naval Surface Forces, speaks with Sailors assigned to the Avenger-class mine countermeasure ships USS Patriot (MCM 7), USS Pioneer (MCM 9), USS Warrior (MCM 10) and USS Chief (MCM 14) during an all-hands call on the pier at Fleet Activities Sasebo. Rowden was visiting Fleet Activities Sasebo, home of U.S. 7th Fleet’s forward-deployed amphibious ships, to better understand forward-deployed readiness challenges and to discuss the role of the new Naval Surface Group Western Pacific organization. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jordan Crouch/Released)
SASEBO, Japan (Sept. 25, 2017) Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander of Naval Surface Forces, speaks with Sailors assigned to the Avenger-class mine countermeasure ships USS Patriot (MCM 7), USS Pioneer (MCM 9), USS Warrior (MCM 10) and USS Chief (MCM 14) during an all-hands call on the pier at Fleet Activities Sasebo. Rowden was visiting Fleet Activities Sasebo, home of U.S. 7th Fleet’s forward-deployed amphibious ships, to better understand forward-deployed readiness challenges and to discuss the role of the new Naval Surface Group Western Pacific organization. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jordan Crouch/Released)

 

The ensuing comprehensive review (CR) revealed that we must take our bearings from time-tested truths regarding our standards. It shed light on five key areas: fundamentals, teamwork, operational safety, assessments, and culture. We own our achievements and failures in these areas and have been aggressively working to improve them.

Leading into the CR, we had already tackled some issues through Ready for Sea Assessments of forward deployed and deploying ships; the establishment of the Pacific Fleet Detachment Naval Surface Group Western Pacific; and implementation of circadian rhythm watchbills and shipboard routines. The CR’s scope and depth highlighted further changes that will require additional time and resources in order to not only restore our legacy, but to also positively transform the force’s culture to one where emphasis is placed on mastery vice sufficiency. Our Sailors deserve to have all of the resources they need – which includes, and are not limited to, access to the right tools, planned and sustainable training periods, and time – in order to obtain and maintain warfighting and ship driving proficiency and sufficiency. As you read this blog, approximately 20 percent of the 58 CR initiatives have been accomplished. However, much work remains to be done. This is not a check the block exercise; this is a change in the Surface Warfare culture that will make us a better fighting force – ready to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow.

I am confident that the Navy leadership team will find successful solutions to the remaining problems identified by the CR. This is an all hands effort that requires lasting commitment and resources. I encourage everyone to be active participants and to practice patience as our Navy and Surface Force make the necessary changes. To quote the CR, “Everyone, from the most junior Sailor to the commanding officer, has an obligation to use their voice to provide forceful backup when they see a deviation from procedure or dangerous situation developing.” From these tragedies, we will become better mariners and warfighters. A strong demand signal for the Surface Force will continue, as will the evolution of its future capabilities.

PHILIPPINE SEA (Aug. 22, 2017) A harpoon missile launches from the missile deck of the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) off the coast of Guam. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaleb R. Staples/Released)
PHILIPPINE SEA (Aug. 22, 2017) A harpoon missile launches from the missile deck of the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) off the coast of Guam. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaleb R. Staples/Released)

 

I am excited about our operational advancements. Thanks to significant progress made in 2017, our ships are harder to find, harder to kill, and more lethal. Recent Surface Force innovations include missiles that allow enemy ships to be killed at greater range (e.g. Maritime Tomahawk Land-Attack Missile, USS John P. Jones Standard Missile-6 testing), offensive enhancements to existing ships (e.g. USS Coronado firing a Harpoon Over-the-Horizon Missile), networking approaches to integrating the Marine Corps F-35B with our Aegis fleet and attacking land-based targets from amphibious ships at sea (e.g. USS Anchorage utilizing High Mobility Artillery Rocket System).

As I attend this year’s SNA symposium I try to think about what our Navy will be like 35 years from now. I want to look back at some of the things we’ve done the past decade and see how these innovations and advancements have set us on a path to be the dominant Surface Force I know we will be in the future. I am and will always be extremely proud to be a Surface Warfare Officer. It has been a privilege to be part of a truly outstanding group of professionals – the U.S. Navy’s Surface Warfare community!

SASEBO, Japan (Sept. 25, 2017) Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces, addresses Sailors during an all-hands call in the ship’s hangar bay of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). Rowden was visiting Fleet Activities Sasebo, home of the 7th Fleet’s forward-deployed amphibious ships, to better understand forward-deployed readiness challenges and to discuss the role of the new command Naval Surface Group Western Pacific organization. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Cosmo Walrath/Released)
SASEBO, Japan (Sept. 25, 2017) Vice Adm. Tom Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces, addresses Sailors during an all-hands call in the ship’s hangar bay of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). Rowden was visiting Fleet Activities Sasebo, home of the 7th Fleet’s forward-deployed amphibious ships, to better understand forward-deployed readiness challenges and to discuss the role of the new command Naval Surface Group Western Pacific organization. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Cosmo Walrath/Released)

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/01/08/sea-control-by-design/ U.S. Navy

Surface Warfare Week: Vital Education Tool for Our Nation’s Future Officers

By Vice Adm. Tom Rowden
Commander, Naval Surface Forces

There are many constants in the life of surface warfare officers: getting underway on a ship, making sure our Sailors and ships are ready to deploy, and every summer, hosting midshipmen from our nation’s universities.

Midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy and Reserve Officer Training Corps units from around the nation participate in yearly summer training. I believe investing fleet time in training our future leaders is extremely important to extending our legacy of maritime dominance for years to come. Perhaps one of most influential events we conduct is “Core Training for Midshipmen” (CORTRAMID) and “Professional Training for Midshipmen” (PROTRAMID).

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Feb. 13, 2017) The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) fires a 5-inch lightweight gun during a live fire exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/Released)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Feb. 13, 2017) The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) fires a 5-inch lightweight gun during a live fire exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/Released)

 

I still remember my midshipman summer experience 37 years later like it was yesterday. And what I learned then, I still use today. As it happens, during my summer training as a midshipman, I had the opportunity to meet one of our great naval leaders, Vice Adm. “Hank” Mustin, aboard the frigate USS Miller. He spoke to the officers in the ship’s wardroom and he left me with a lasting memory. He emphatically stated, “the United States Navy exists to control the sea.” His words are as applicable today as they were decades ago.

Midshipmen 3rd class Keegan Kush, from Omaha, Neb., participates in a sea and anchor detail aboard the Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56).
Midshipmen 3rd class Keegan Kush, from Omaha, Neb., participates in a sea and anchor detail aboard the Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56).

CORTRAMID is designed to educate ROTC midshipmen going into their sophomore year of college about fleet operations, while PROTRAMID is focused on rising juniors at the Naval Academy. Both month-long training blocks consist of the same curriculum, one week in each of the major communities: surface warfare, submarine force, naval aviation and the Marine Corps. The major distinction setting this training apart from all others is that once it’s completed and the midshipmen return to their schools, they are required to sign the five-year commitment to continue forward in their commissioning programs. No pressure!

On Monday, we’ll kick off the 2017 CORTRAMID/PROTRAMID season and I wholeheartedly believe this training is vital for these future naval officers. The month they spend with the fleet sets the framework for their perception of each community and hopefully sheds some light on the reality of each as well. For the surface warfare community, it’s our duty, and an honor, to help teach them about what it is we do. We accomplish the orientation during Surface Warfare Week, more commonly called Surface Warfare Officer Week. I want it to be known that SWO Week is, if nothing else, an essential education tool that allows midshipmen to get their questions answered, in operational environments, prior to service selection.

The Littoral Combat Ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) sails alongside USS Nimitz (CVN 68) as part of a strait transit demonstration during the aircraft carrier's Sustainment Exercise off the coast of Southern California, April 14. Fort Worth, a semi-planing, mono-hull vessel, is a fast, agile, and mission-focused platform designed to employ modular mission packages that can be configured for three separate purposes: surface warfare, mine countermeasures, or anti-submarine warfare. The ship is designed to operate in hostile near-shore environments, known as "the littorals", and to defeat asymmetric "anti-access" threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft. Fort Worth is the second of the Freedom variant of LCS. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Phil Ladouceur/Released)
The Littoral Combat Ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) sails alongside USS Nimitz (CVN 68) as part of a strait transit demonstration during the aircraft carrier’s Sustainment Exercise off the coast of Southern California. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Phil Ladouceur/Released)

It’s my desire for them to be as informed as possible before making this life altering decision. I cannot – and we shouldn’t – make the choice for them. Everyone has their place in our great Navy and while we pride ourselves on diversity, we need to be mindful that not everyone is meant to be a surface warfare officer and that is absolutely all right. I want each and every midshipman to choose the community that is best for him or her; to do what they love and be the best officer they can be in service to our great Navy. We just need to ensure that the time they spent learning about the SWO community is educational and represents the broad spectrum of what our community has to offer them upon commissioning.

We achieve this goal through a designed program that not only gets midshipmen underway on multiple platforms of ships, but also integrates the training with non-conventional pipelines like riverine squadrons and naval beach group and takes them to the Basic Division Officer Course where they will receive formal training as junior officers once commissioned and formally assigned to the SWO community. We also provide interactions with junior officers and chief petty officers from the waterfront who are currently stationed aboard surface ships. These active duty leaders mentor small groups through the week’s schedule and a SWO Week competition; most importantly, they answer questions about our great community. We wrap-up the week in a more relaxed environment, a barbecue social where other junior officers and chiefs from the waterfront come to support and answer any last queries about surface warfare.

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (March 23, 2015) Ensign Joseph Lillie, from Lakewood, Ohio, stands officer of the deck watch at the radar console aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon (DDG 58). Laboon is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Desmond Parks/Released)
MEDITERRANEAN SEA (March 23, 2015) Ensign Joseph Lillie stands officer of the deck watch at the radar console aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon (DDG 58). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Desmond Parks/Released)

 

For general guidance, I can tell the midshipmen that the surface warfare community remains committed to putting the most advanced ships in the hands of the most capable Sailors. Among all warfare communities, they will be the first to hit the deck plates, leading Sailors almost immediately following commissioning. Furthermore, our junior officers have the rewarding experience of driving the world’s most capable ships and employing our most sophisticated weapons systems. When midshipmen select surface warfare, they will start out on their first ship having more responsibility than their civilian counterparts might ever have.

Our community is on the leading edge of adopting personnel policies that are increasingly rewarding for the most talented officers. Our officers have unique opportunities to pursue graduate level education, intern at some of the most prestigious companies, and train to become an expert tactician in the fleet. The officers that join the surface community will have the satisfaction of leading Sailors in the midst of a rapidly changing maritime security environment.

EVERETT, Wash. (Nov. 1, 2016) Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaks to Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) during his visit to Naval Station Everett.. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Montemarano/Released)
EVERETT, Wash. (Nov. 1, 2016) Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaks to Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) during his visit to Naval Station Everett. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Montemarano/Released)

 

I truly believe it’s the experience and perspective gained throughout this orientation week that allows us to leave an indelible impression upon each midshipman as we send them back to their commissioning sources better informed about the fleet and more knowledgeable in the process. The talent we attract now is tomorrow’s leadership of the surface force. I sincerely thank all of the units and personnel that will help make CORTRAMID/PROTRAMID 2017 our best summer yet for surface warfare education. I look forward to meeting some of the next generation of naval officers, include those who will select surface warfare.

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2017/05/21/surface-warfare-week-vital-education-tool-for-our-nations-future-officers/ U.S. Navy

Why I Love Being a U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer

By Vice Adm. Tom Rowden
Commander, Naval Surface Forces

Yesterday, midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy found out their service assignment in the U.S. Navy. For those midshipmen who will become surface warfare officers, as well as their comrades who received notification earlier in the academic semester at Naval Reserve Training Officer Corps units across the country, I want to congratulate all of you and welcome you to the surface warfare community – a community that I love dearly.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Nov. 17, 2016) Midshipman 1st Class Katelyn Shinavski receives her service assignment as a surface warfare officer. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Nov. 17, 2016) Midshipman 1st Class Katelyn Shinavski receives her service assignment as a surface warfare officer. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

 

It is a great time to be a surface warfare officer! Among all the warfare communities you could have chosen, SWOs will be the first to hit deck plates, leading Sailors almost immediately following graduation. You will “lead early and lead often” and you will further develop and hone the leadership skills you have been developing over the past four years.

WATERS SOUTH OF JAPAN (Jan. 15, 2015) – The forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) fires a MK 45 – 5-inch gun during a live fire exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christian Senyk/Released)
WATERS SOUTH OF JAPAN (Jan. 15, 2015) – The forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) fires a MK 45 – 5-inch gun during a live fire exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christian Senyk/Released)

You will be leading our Sailors in the midst of a rapidly changing security environment in the maritime domain. In response, our Navy is delivering new ships and weapons systems while, at the same time, improving our training and tactics to address these new and sophisticated threats. Our Surface Forces are executing exciting missions all over the world and regardless of your ship type, job assignment, or mission, each of you will play a vital role in shaping the future of our community and the maritime environment.

The Surface Warfare community is also on the leading edge of adopting personnel policies that are increasingly rewarding our most talented officers. You are embarking on a career path that offers more flexibility than any previous generations of surface warfare officers with unique opportunities to pursue graduate level education, intern at some of the most prestigious global companies, and train to become an expert tactician in the fleet.

I take great pride in leading a community that, in essence, began 241 years ago with our nation’s and our Navy’s first six frigates. There is no question that the surface community serves as a primary integrator in today’s warfighting disciplines, from the tactical to the theater level – with capability for deterrence, sea control, and power projection around the globe.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Apr. 20, 2016) –The Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 111) (left) steams in formation with USS Decatur (DDG 73) and USS Momsen (DDG 92). Spruance, along with guided-missile destroyers USS Momsen (DDG 92) and USS Decatur (DDG 73), and embarked “Devil Fish” and “Warbirds” detachments of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 49, deployed as part of a U.S. 3rd Fleet Pacific Surface Action Group (PAC SAG) under Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 31. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Will Gaskill/Released)
PACIFIC OCEAN (Apr. 20, 2016) –The Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 111) (left) steams in formation with USS Decatur (DDG 73) and USS Momsen (DDG 92). Spruance, along with guided-missile destroyers USS Momsen (DDG 92) and USS Decatur (DDG 73), and embarked “Devil Fish” and “Warbirds” detachments of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 49, deployed as part of a U.S. 3rd Fleet Pacific Surface Action Group (PAC SAG) under Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 31. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Will Gaskill/Released)

 

CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (Oct. 17, 2016) Aircraft CF-02, an F-35 Lightning II Carrier Variant attached to the F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 completes a flyover of the guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000). (U.S. Navy photo by Andy Wolfe/Released)
CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. (Oct. 17, 2016) Aircraft CF-02, an F-35 Lightning II Carrier Variant attached to the F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 completes a flyover of the guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000). (U.S. Navy photo by Andy Wolfe/Released)

For these reasons and more, I continue to love being a surface warfare officer. I have the honor of being the “SWO Boss,” and I could not be more excited about the opportunities that await all of you. Leadership is and will remain the bedrock of our community and we each play a significant role in making our Navy a more mobile, lethal, and flexible force.

The future surface community in which you will be leading is already unfolding before you. From embarking the new fifth-generation F-35B Joint Strike Fighter aircraft on our amphibious ships to USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) and the innovative technologies she is ushering into our Navy, we are dedicated to enhancing the lethality of our forces by improving the reach of today’s ships through new payloads of more capable weapons, sensors and unmanned vehicles.

I take resounding pride in knowing all this is powered by a tremendous community of professionals – from seaman to admirals – each key to our daily success. You will now be joining their ranks and I want you to know that your impact will be immediate!

America is a maritime nation and as such needs a strong maritime force – the appetite for surface forces has never been greater, and I can say with confidence that we are doing our part to answer the call. It’s truly gratifying to be in a community that has been and will continue to be so critical to American power and prosperity.

Again, congratulations to all of you of your assignment to surface warfare, a community that I love. Welcome to our team!

EVERETT, Wash. (Nov. 1, 2016) Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaks to Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) during his visit to Naval Station Everett.. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Montemarano/Released)
EVERETT, Wash. (Nov. 1, 2016) Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, speaks to Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86) during his visit to Naval Station Everett.. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Montemarano/Released)

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2016/11/18/why-i-love-being-a-u-s-navy-surface-warfare-officer/ U.S. Navy

Keeping Our Best

By Vice Adm. Tom Rowden
Commander, Naval Surface Forces

It takes top performing division officers to build top performing mid-grade and senior officers – especially those who will command at sea. But in today’s extremely competitive, globally connected world, organizations from all industries are fighting a “war for talent” as they strive to attract – and keep – the best. I am proud to say the same is true in the Surface Warfare community. We need high performing division officers who are committed to becoming top performing department heads and commanding officers, and that improves not only the surface community, but also the Navy as a whole. To that end, I have challenged our community to think differently about how we can attract and retain our very best, and I am extremely pleased with the innovative ways we are retaining and rewarding our top performers .

PACIFIC OCEAN (Sept. 26, 2016) - Lt. Serg Samndzic and Lt. Aaron Jochimsen, Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTI) of the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) coordinate missile exercise rehearsals on the USS Princeton during an anti-submarine exercise in the Southern California operating area. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Trevor Andersen/Released)
PACIFIC OCEAN (Sept. 26, 2016) – Lt. Serg Samndzic and Lt. Aaron Jochimsen, Warfare Tactics Instructors (WTI) of the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) coordinate missile exercise rehearsals on the USS Princeton during an anti-submarine exercise in the Southern California operating area. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Trevor Andersen/Released)

 

But in some ways, this effort isn’t new. In fact, the Departartment Head Retention Bonus (DHRB) marks the latest chapter in a nearly 20-year process of striving to develop a system that rewards the right people at the right time. This process first began with the Surface Warfare Officer Continuation Pay (SWOCP) bonus, which had the simple objective of retaining division officers through the completion of two department head tours. The next evolution was the Revised Junior Critical Skills Retention Bonus (RJCSRB) – a major bonus overhaul that added more money and was designed to retain the critical skills of our junior officers.  As a result, we’ve been able to consistently meet our department head requirements, enabling screening boards to be more selective.

SOUTH CHINA SEA (July, 23, 2015) Lt. j.g. Hasenbank, center, mentors new ensigns as he stands his last officer of the deck watch aboard the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) during a Singapore Strait transit. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. James Arterberry/Released)
SOUTH CHINA SEA (July, 23, 2015) Lt. j.g. Hasenbank, center, mentors new ensigns as he stands his last officer of the deck watch aboard the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) during a Singapore Strait transit. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. James Arterberry/Released)

So why does this new department head bonus matter? Because for the first time, we’re able to reward what has been the primary selection factor at all of our screening boards – superior performance at sea.

We have found a way to not only measure superior performance at sea, but also a method to reward that performance and retain top performers. Bottom line, the bonus is bigger than just getting division officers to stick around as department heads. It’s about retaining our best so that they can one day help us lead the Navy!

To do this, we have created a program similar to the performance bonuses used by many civilian corporations to reward and retain top talent. This performance-based bonus is a first of its kind for the Department of Defense and not only pays for a skillset, but also rewards officers with extra incentive payments – up to $30,000 – based on fleet performance that results in first or second look selection at the department head screening board.

This tiered incentive program ensures those who screen for advancement to department head at the earliest career opportunity (their first look usually occurs after reaching three years of commissioned service) are eligible to receive three extra payments of $10,000 a year for an ultimate total bonus of $105,000. Officers screening on their second look will receive two incentive payments of $10,000 each in addition to the standard bonus of $75,000 for a bonus totaling $95,000. Those screening a year later on their third look will receive a standard base bonus of $75,000.

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 24, 2015) Cmdr. Gilbert Clark, executive officer of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG 68), directs Ensign Christian Diaz as he monitors the course indicator during a replenishment-at-sea training exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Daniel Gaither/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 24, 2015) Cmdr. Gilbert Clark, executive officer of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG 68), directs Ensign Christian Diaz as he monitors the course indicator during a replenishment-at-sea training exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Daniel Gaither/Released)

 

We’re investing in the junior officers who spend months deployed across the globe and those who are permanently forward deployed. We’re investing in those officers who excel at leading Sailors, tirelessly stand the watch, and spend countless hours preparing their ships for deployment. These bonuses allow us to signal the value of superior performance from our junior officers as they move into the role of department head, and continue on to billets as commanding officers, major commanders, and flag officers.

Ensign Stephanie Gies looks for contacts as the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) transits the Atlantic Ocean, Dec. 27, 2013. Monterey is scheduled to return to homeport in Norfolk after a nine-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Billy Ho/Released)
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Dec. 27, 2013) Ensign Stephanie Gies looks for contacts as the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) transits the Atlantic Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Billy Ho/Released)

These bonuses aren’t given lightly; they are earned through effort. Not all Surface Warfare Officers screen for department head, much less on their first look. In fact, doing so is highly competitive and takes hard work, skill, and grit. For those officers who make the effort, I am thrilled that we are able to reward and invest in you the same way you have helped make our Navy better.

DHRB is transformational in a way that benefits our 21st century Navy . But make no mistake, this bonus is bigger than just the division officers and our department heads who receive it. This bonus is about creating an environment where our top talent remains in the Surface Navy. Because when our top officers continue to serve, these high performers make every ship in our force better .

There has never been a better time to stay SWO!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2016/10/19/keeping-our-best/ U.S. Navy