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Naval Surface Forces Announce New Enlisted Surface Warfare Instruction

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Commander, Naval Surface Forces (COMNAVSURFOR), released an updated Navy Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) program instruction, Nov. 16. 

The updated ESWS program is set to reinforce a culture aboard surface ships that puts emphasis on Sailors first learning their ratings and watchstations, by giving Sailors more time to focus on obtaining critical in-rate and damage control qualifications before being required to enroll into the command’s ESWS program.  

The instruction’s release comes on the heels of a more than year-long process in which command master chiefs from the East Coast, West Coast, and overseas, representing an array of surface ships, worked together to develop an instruction that will ensure that Sailors will be knowledgeable and proficient surface warfare specialists. 

“One goal of this instruction is to increase the overall quality of the surface warfare program,” said COMNAVSURFOR Force Master Chief James Osborne. “The new instruction will increase the number and scope of prerequisites, improve the quality of our programs and increase Sailor and platform lethality.” 

The new ESWS program comes after similar re-writes of both the Enlisted Information Warfare Specialist and the Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist qualifications that were aimed at promoting the same cultural shifts. 

Before, all Sailors (E-1 - E-9) were required to obtain their ESWS within 30 months of checking onboard a surface ship.  This rewrite targets journeyman and senior Sailors for mandatory enrollment in their command’s ESWS program, unburdening junior Sailors from mandatory enrollment, giving them time back to focus on learning the intricacies of their rating. 

The new instruction also values experience and initiative, by creating a path for certain E-4 Sailors  to enroll in their command’s ESWS program with command senior enlisted leadership approval, and if they meet the following criteria:

Early promote (EP) on their most recent regular periodic evaluation.
Minimum score of 50 on the most recent Navy-wide advancement exam. 
Demonstrate exceptional performance in shipboard watchstanding and obtain qualifications in rate normally expected of journeyman Sailors
“[ESWS] is truly a journeyman level qualification, and for a Sailor to be a true surface warfare specialist, they have to first have a technical expertise within their rating, understand their watchstanding requirements, and be proficient firefighters,” said Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic (COMNAVSURFLANT) Force Master Chief Kevin Goodrich, who is one of the primary authors of the new instruction. “We want to ensure that Sailors are true surface warfare specialists, and not just generalists.” 

The new instruction will do away with the requirement for all first-tour Sailors to walk away from their first sea-duty command with their ESWS qualification. Sailors will not be required to enroll in a command’s ESWS program until they reach a journeyman or master-level (E-5 - E-9). These Sailors will be enrolled in their ESWS program after 12 months onboard, or at the commanding officer’s discretion, and from there will have 18 months to qualify in ESWS. 

In attempts to improve damage control and ship survivability, the updated program will add more prerequisite PQS, including the following:

Damage Control 301-312.
Damage Control Watches 301, Sounding and Security.
Ship’s Maintenance and Material Management (3-M) Systems 301-303.
“We are building elite performers,” said Goodrich. “What worked to qualify every enlisted Sailor on the ship is likely not good enough to build surface experts. When a Sailor shows up to a command with an ESWS pin, the gaining command should know that they can count on that Sailor’s knowledge and expertise, immediately.”

For more information on the new ESWS program requirements, contact your command’s senior enlisted leadership or ESWS coordinator. 

COMNAVSURFOR, comprised of Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMNAVSURFPAC) and COMNAVSURFLANT, mans, trains and equips all assigned naval surface forces and supporting shore activities world-wide, ensuring capable forces for conducting prompt and sustained operations in support of United States national interests.

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