If you don’t know that an Officer of the Deck Letter is, for a Surface Warfare Officer, it’s the hardest letter to get (in my opinion) before your SWO pin. With this qualification it means that you are ready to stand Officer of the Deck and you have the Commanding Officers “Trust”  to make decisions while up on the bridge for the well-being of the ship.

Now don’t let me confuse you, there is a set restriction to said decisions and there are many instances that you have to call the captain if they arise but he is still saying he has enough trust in you that while he is not on the bridge you have all the authority and control he would have to make safety and navigational decisions, if he were present.

Yesterday morning:

I was so busy all day I didn’t have any time at all to stress and fret over the board although that’s all I wanted to do because I knew it was going to be hard. I studied and ran in the morning and then I had watch and we did a burial at sea which I was a part of so I was running non stop right up until it was time for the board. (You have to pass a final Officer of the Deck board in front of the Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, Department Heads, and anyone else they deem necessary ((It varies from ship to ship)), to pass your qualification.

I was going over everything diligently and the department head’s filed in saying they were going to anhiliate me like minced meat, you know, standard procedures. The navy is a ruthless place I must admit. I was very nervous even though they were encouraging behind the scenes.

The Supply Officer (Suppo) and the Airboss did not sit in on the board so while I was waiting in the p-way (hallway) for them to call me in, Suppo told me I’m allowed one pass on a question so when they ask me something that’s not fair or too hard I look them square in the eye and say, “Fuck you sir, next question.” Well of course Airboss loved this idea and he said I had to snap my finger and point at someone else at the end of the phrase.

This was making me bust out laughing and made me less nervous. Well some bigger, real world things were going on so I ended up waiting in the hallway for almost 40 minutes for the captain to be ready. This did nothing to ease my nerves, it just set them back in place.

Finally the captain was ready and when he was walking to the wardroom, he looked at me and said you better do very well in there, I’m pulling for you. This could only intensify my nervousness because I didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of him.

They called me in a few minutes later or so the questioning began… CHENG (Chief Engineer) started first and engineering is not my forte so I started out slow but then he helped lead me to the answers and I started rattling off answers with the captain interjecting here and there.

They went around the table in a red robin sort of way and I feel that I did my best so that was all I could ask. The ‘what would you do with the ship in this sort of situation’ questions will always get me since I will not know what I will do until it happens, but I felt pretty confident about my answers. The captain then asked two final questions.

1. What is your biggest pet peeve on the bridge? I immediately answered light at night. That has always been my biggest pet peeve. When you have tons of light on the bridge how can you keep a good lookout? Its hard to explain unless you’ve experienced it but I like my bridge to be pitch dark so I can see further out.


2. Finish this sentence. This is Ensign H, I have the deck, I will…? I replied I will ensure that the 320 personnel on board will be safe for the next 5 hours. It’s the first thing that came to my mind.

Everyone started laughing and I was looking around, why was that so funny? They said why did you add for the next 5 hours at the end? I said because that’s how long my watch is and I can’t ensure the ship’s safety with any other officer of the deck. Since there have been a few incidents with others on the bridge, they were laughing, I joined in sheepishly.

At the end they told me to step outside while they deliberated.

They left me out there forever! I was wringing my hands with worry, this must be what it is like for the husband, when the wife is in labor. Then they called me inside again and told me to sit down. The captain said that he has felt confident in me for a while and he knows that I will do a very good job up there in his absence. I was very relieved.

The captain already had my letter drafted and waiting, which was awesome, because that means he was really pulling for me to pass!


Well they did prank me good. While I was on watch on the bridge (not OOD yet, not till the 2 people leave in the next port) CSO came up to give me the letter and my routed qual sheet. He also had my PQS book with him which is this huge book that I had to get signed off in order to get a board with the captain. This one is the biggest one and it took me almost 6 months to get it all the way signed off.

Well he went out to the bridge wing with me chasing after him while he pretended to pitch it over the side. I was screaming at the top of my lungs for him to stop where he was. He didn’t throw it over board, thank God.

Well right before I was about to be relieved, he came back up and he holds up my PQS book which he had stolen from the counter and he says, “did I not tell you to stop leaving your things unattended.” And he made another bee line for the bridge wing. I only half followed him, this game was getting old.

He runs out there and one second I see my PQS book in the air and the next I see the paper’s soaring through the air and plummeting to the water. I sprinted out and watched the papers flutter away. I flipped around and just started screaming at the top of my lungs. How could he do that to my PQS!!!?!??? I was so upset. I was screaming and looking at the water and looking back at him and screaming. They of course thought this was hilarious and were laughing.

3 minutes later he brings my real PQS book out with the cover ripped off and hands it to me. I was FURIOUS. They were dying laughing. I was so mad. They got me good, but I got my PQS book which I’ve hidden far away from everyone. O the nerve. They have told everyone and so they have been laughing at me all day.

My murder board for my SWO pin is scheduled for the 22nd, which is in 9 days. That’s a very fast turn around and I am very excited and going to study diligently for it, or so I tell myself. I’ve got ALOT to learn and retain before then. My SWO non qual days are fast approaching their end. I cannot wait for that pin, it will be a long time coming.

We have found out when our next port will be and for how long, it is very exciting but I can’t say where it is until we actually get there. Only the chiefs and officers will be allowed to have overnight liberty and we are definitely taking advantage of that.

Since we all have money to burn, four of the girls made reservations at one of the nicest hotels in town. This will mean Skype all night!!! It will be perfect timing too, since it will be early afternoon back at home.

I am also finally moving back to a stateroom when we pull in and the medical staff disembark. I’m going to have my desk back and we are going to have a TV to watch movies and shows on. H and I are sad to say goodbye to masterchief but she just got all the seasons of desperate housewives on our last mail call and we need to catch up!

Alrighty, well hope everyone is having a good time and I hope you aren’t burning up in the heat. Yesterday it reached 109 out here on the ocean. eee!

For a complete listing of all of my deployment articles Click the Link: MY FIRST DEPLOYMENT

This article appeared first on Dynamic Soarer.