By Journalist 2nd Class Jason Heavner, Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO (NNS) — Projecting power to all parts of the globe requires a team of surface warfare officers (SWO) with proficient skills in seamanship, navigation and ship handling.
To satisfy this need, the U.S. Navy has developed a Navigation, Seamanship and Shiphandling Training Requirements Document (NSS TRD). The NSS TRD identifies the core competencies for SWOs assigned to Navy warships. It outlines a navigation, seamanship and shiphandling training continuum for Surface Warfare Officers, from newly reported ensigns all the way to the commanding officer.
The TRD is consistent with the specifications and requirements of the Merchant Marine “1995 Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers.” It also conforms to the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Chapter 46, which is a list of shipping regulations set by the Department of Homeland Security.
“As it works in conjunction with Task Force EXCEL, the TRD is especially beneficial for navigators, as it expedites the process of attaining Third Mate licensure,” said Lt. Tom Mack, assigned to the staff of Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Readiness and Training Department.
The TRD consists of many initiatives. One is the Navigator Course of Instruction. This course implements a newly established personnel qualification standard (PQS) for navigators and assistant navigators. The course will be software-based training distributed on CDs.
“Platform endorsement” is another initiative implemented by the TRD. “Platform endorsement” formalizes the re-qualification process for the Officer of the Deck. For example, every SWO, including the executive officer and department heads, will re-qualify in platform-specific evolutions (i.e. loss of steering, flight quarters). The goal is to enable a SWO to maintain their proficiency in navigation and shiphandling, regardless of the platform to which they are assigned. Both initiatives are scheduled for fleetwide roll-out in Spring 2004.
A third initiative of the TRD is the Training Record Book. Much like a pilot’s log, this will give commanding officers and executive officers a tool to track a SWO’s career qualifications. It will offer supervisors and leaders a clear picture of their subordinate’s professional development with regard to navigation, seamanship and shiphandling experience. The record book will include pages for sea service time, qualifications and facts, and characteristics of the ship on which the SWO stood deck watches. It will also include watchstanding records for combat, deck and engineering departments. The TRD is also compatible with Merchant Mariner and federal certifications, so a SWO could use the record book to more easily pursue civilian and other licenses.
In an effort to fill a considerable capability gap, the Navy will bring navigation simulators to almost every fleet concentration area by 2006. Currently, shiphandling simulators are located in the Norfolk and San Diego fleet concentration areas. Another simulator is located at the Surface Warfare Officer School in Newport, R.I. By mid-2005, additional full mission bridge simulators will be online in other fleet-concentration areas, including Mayport, Fla.; Sasebo and Yokosuka, Japan; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; and Everett, Wash.
“With the use of these simulators, the level of proficiency for a bridge watchstander will improve significantly. They can navigate a ship during any special evolution, or pull into any particular port in the world without using any fuel or altering ship schedules, thus saving the Navy time and money,” added Mack.
These initiatives will change the way Navy personnel are trained in navigation, seamanship and ship handling. The NSS TRD moves away from a knowledge-based approach to a competence-based system of qualification where candidates must physically demonstrate they have mastered the skills necessary to stand a navigational watch.
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