Navy to Standup Surface Warfare ‘Top Gun’ This Summer


USS Stout (DDG-55) ires its MK45 5-inch gun during a live-fire exercise on Jan. 6, 2014. US Navy Photo

The US Navy will be standing up a post graduate tactics school for Professional Surface Warfare Officers in the same manner as the Navy Strake and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC), TOPGUN.

The surface Navy will take a page from the naval aviation community and standup a new command to teach combined surface tactics to the service’s top surface warfare officers by the end of the year, Vice Adm. Tom Copeman, commander of U.S. Surface Forces said in a Tuesday presentation at the Surface Navy Association symposium 2014 in Crystal City, Va.

Naval Surface and Expeditionary Warfare Command (NSEWC)—modeled in part after the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center which trains pilots in strike and air to air combat —will train high preforming SWOs across several warfare disciplines.

I think this idea has been long past due.


xbradtc asked a question I didn’t think of: How are they going to do aggressor squadrons?

My only question is “When does the movie come out?” :)


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10 responses to “Navy to Standup Surface Warfare ‘Top Gun’ This Summer

  1. Chris H.

    There’s no way that this can be done in meatspace. Consider the direct cost of sortieing x-amount of ships to do both blue and red forces, and then further consider the impact to the Sailors and their families from further reducing their hometempo.

    Just to hazard a guess, but the training (and the aggressor forces) will be done in sim. The SWO crowd has had hyper-realistic shiphandling sims on the waterfront since at least 1998, when I went through the sims. The sims were actually full bridge mockups with multiple large screen displays for visual cuing, and the modeling software included not just the shiphandling characteristics of the vessel you were conning, but the environmental effects of wind, water, and visibility, AND the impact of nearby vessels (pass too close to opposing/overtaken traffic and you learn about the venturi effect without the expense of a new paintjob. Anecdote: the experience was incredibly immersive; on an approach to a pier, I misjudged both approach speed and position and “struck” the pier, causing the ship to heel and yaw considerably, which indicates on the large screen displays….the entire bridge crew, leaned opposite the direction of heel as if the sim platform were actually moving, right up to the point of losing their balance.

    Modeling the combat capabilities along with the shiphandling characteristics of multiple blue/red vessels to get a “SWOGUN” level of tactical training is well within the realm of the possible.


  2. Esli

    I believe our humble host was on a certain ship one day when said certain ship hit a certain building, and it was definitely not in simulations. My only question is: was he on the bridge or in the engine room????


  3. the first thing those Super SWOs will discover in the sim is “dadgum, we don’t have a supersonic OTH missile – all we got is that Harpoon thingie which requires us to get just as about as close to stick it in some enemy “whale”” . The second thing they will learn is you get a much better deal on TOPDECK patches in orders larger than 1500. And the third thing they will learn is “leave LCS at the pier”.


    • The problem with a long range ASM is the targets have a nasty habit of moving during the time of flight. Harpoon Block 1D actually has a pretty fair range. But since it isn’t supersonic, that time of flight gives any target more time to evade the seeker’s footprint. And of course, the lower speed means longer reaction times for any defense.

      There’s an effort afoot to adapt the JASSM to VLS as a replacement for Harpoon. Still subsonic, but not a bad idea. In flight targeting updates and dual mode seeker will help.


  4. Krag

    I don’t think there is a large enough population of USN SWOs ready for “graduate” level training – more like remedial training on the basics. Baby steps guys….


    • Krag, it depends on what the tests are.

      Is there a TAO level test? Then it’s a Department Head competition. There are good department heads.

      Is it about cascading engineering casualties? Then CHENGs and EOOW qualified JOs like MPAs are golden.

      Shiphandling? JOs, the ANav and XO. The CO and sometimes department heads for handling tugs and lines at the pier. (Usually the costs of mistakes kept the JOs out of an extensive pierside decision loop. Maybe it’s better today.)

      NTDS skills? CICO, Guns, Missles, ASWO, OPS and CSOs.

      Running ship’s routine? OODs and XOs.

      Keeping track of exercises and changes to ship’s schedule? OPS and maybe the CICO.

      Setting up Radio and CMS maintenance? Commo.

      Writing evals and inspecting divisional spaces? More officer-like testing, not limited to SWO.

      Damage Control is best for DCAs, CHENGs, and RLLs. Asking for individuals to fix damage is a tad unfair, because SWOs are supposed to coordinate and lead. But all JOs should compete.

      THis could make sense between two Department Head tours, or just prior to an XO tour. With fleet-up, there is a long wait from department head to XO.

      I’ll assume the usual inside the Beltway thinking went into this plan.


  5. Navy Battles fought in sim and on the 1 MC, “All Hands alert! A nuclear weapon has detonated one mile off the starboard beam, stand by for the shock wave and base surge………….the shock wave and base surge have passed………the radiation is now at 800 r. Water wash down commencing……water washdown complete……rads at 200 r.”
    Yup, Navy Top Gun at it’s best.
    Either that or the biggest MILES harness ever seen!


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