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The Royal Navy of today—and many others as well—is faced with a paradox. The more man is helped by “machines”—computer-aided decisions, lock-on radar, self-homing weapons—the harder his job seems to become. The essence of making the new systems and their operators work well together is a program of training, both at sea and ashore. Frequently, the training involves other NATO ships, such as the Dutch destroyer shown in the center here. And, in all cases, it is aimed at making the ships fully capable operational units.
New Structures for a New Scene: World War II I*a emphasized the lesson first learned in World War from the U-boats: the war was there—or coul ^ there—all the time. A ship must be ready to fig c a almost any time when at sea. What the possibility ° attack from the air—and, to a lesser extent, tom below the surface—had brought to light (an t ^ advent of the long-range, supersonic missile a rammed home) was that the final note of the bug call to general quarters could, under the new ru es, also do duty as “Taps.” Speed of reaction has e
JLraining is about people—as individuals, as teams, or, in the case of naval operational training, as complete ships’ companies. Of course, machines—in the broadest sense of the word—come into it, but only in a subordinate role. Operational training is, in essence, teaching men to use machines, not the other way round. Machines can help, but no more than that, for war is waged by men.
Operational training goes a great deal further than mere instruction, although that is its basis. The process takes in not only telling the student what to do and how to do it but also watching him do it and putting him right. Another part of operational training is to assess the final result: passing as competent, hauling back for a “re-scrub” or, sadly, discarding to some less demanding activity. The overall purpose is clear: to weld a ship’s company into a single operational unit, to which the training of individuals, while a vital prerequisite, is no more than a means to this end. The significant word is "operational,” rather than “fighting.” A warship’s prime potential must be to fight—and to be seen as capable of doing so (another of the many facets of deterrence)—but her operational role embraces a far wider field. She must be prepared not merely for fighting but for almost any emergency within reach of saltwater, from marine disaster to showing the flag. All this is accomplished within the surprisingly wide competence of a ship’s company which, though numerically small, is disciplined, organized, adaptable—and not unduly troubled by what might be termed “union hours and rates.
Training must, therefore, be attuned to the needs of a wide range of activities. It must also be geared to take the best advantage of the “machines” mentioned earlier, for, although these are subordinate, they play a vital part in modern warfare. Indeed, it is not too much to claim that in the past three decades electronics have altered the whole face of maritime warfare to an extent comparable to the introduction of steam propulsion, iron ships, and breech-loading, rifled ordnance.
This change began under the urgent impulse of war, but it was not until a decade had passed after the end of World War II that it was complete in its essentials. Radar, sonar, and communications had changed out of all recognition; the missile had been proved; and electronic warfare had stepped out of the pages of science fiction into a very real and very demanding maritime world. In one generation, the computer had jumped from the centuries-old abacus
'For footnotes, please turn to page 61.
to—so it was claimed by its proponents the ma^ chine to end all machines, always provided that ^ was asked the right questions. In short, it was <g time that the Navy adapted itself.
come, literally, vital.
The second lesson was the need for coordinate a tion so that the ship could fight as a coordinate weapon system, either to meet the primary threat to her own survival or to deliver the kind and weight attack that the situation demanded. Improved sen sors and communications ensured that there was plenty of information on which to base such deci sions. The problem was to sort it out and to present it virtually instantaneously and in such a way that the command could concentrate on its age-o function—decision. And, as the ship’s captain cou not be there all day every day to make that decision, he needed a competent stand-in.
Long before World War II, this had been appreciated and, when not at battle stations, the watc manning the armament was under the direction 0 the principal control officer (PCO). The system worked, though some captains trusted it more than others and, in any case, reducing the state of rea *' ness from action to what was called “defence stations” required a nice judgment between the mutually exclusive claims of instant response and longterm fitness for duty. The new postwar electronic warfare demanded a radical rethink. The logic was simple and irrefutable: coordinated warfare de manded one-man control, by a watchkeeper traine for the job and instantly ready. Thus was conceive and born the principal warfare officer (PWO, known to the initiated as the “pee woh”). In the captains absence, he acted as deputy; with him present, he was his right-hand man. The PWO’s job differs from those of his predecessors—the gunnery officer, the
torpedo-antisubmarine officer, the communicator,
the (aircraft) director, and the navigating officer- Whereas each of these was highly competent throughout his own specialization, when called on to act as PCO he could do little more than pinch-hit for
colleagues. The PWO fights the ship as a whole, is trained to do so.
Hot did this rethink stop with the officer structUre- It was at the same time realized that, just as t^le gunnery officer (to take a random example) was n° longer needed, so was the old idea of the “sea- 01:10 hopelessly out of date. Barefooted Jack, epitomized by the rammer number of the handworked 6-inch gun, was already an anachronism in c*le comparatively simple ships of World War II. He had no place at all in a ship with gun crews which had been reduced from a score to perhaps two and, as °ften as not, completely eliminated. Such ramming as was needed with fixed ammunition would be a Matter of nice electronic control. Nevertheless, there '''as a new and very important job for Jack. He 'v°uld be charged with the operation, control, and direction of the “machines,” mostly found in the operations room (combat information center to Ameri- Ca°s), that had first made possible and then dictated rhe transition. Thus, simultaneously with the warfare officer, the operations branch was also born. Although the two structures are not precise counterparts, from the point of view of practical operational framing and employment, such is the case.
It is a valid generalization to say that, in a modern British warship, the entire armament, together with all its associated business of communication, electronic warfare, combat information, and navigation, *s directed by the warfare officers and supported by
A sea rider lieutenant commander (dark coveralls) gives a flight deck crew its initial briefing. Instruction, with discussion, in small groups is an essential characteristic of the at-sea training program.
the operations branch and, on the technical side, by the weapon engineer officer and his specialist main- tainers. This has meant two important changes in organization. First, although warfare officers do specialize in one or other of warfare’s four main branches—above-water, underwater, communications, or navigation—they do so only as “operators.” The maintenance of the gear has now been completely taken over by the engineers. Second, the operations branch has been relieved of all but its fair share of what might be termed the “housekeeping” of the ship. Whereas the rammer number could be relied on as equally adept at carrying spuds, this and other household chores are now shared much more evenly among all departments. Apart from fighting the ship, his other job is, of course, seamanship, to the extent of anchor work, manning boats, and so on.
The operations branch descends directly from the seaman and communicator (and, in the case of the former, retains the time-honored rates of able seaman, leading seaman, petty officer, chief petty officer and, a recent addition seen by some as the reintroduction of the old-style warrant officer, the fleet chief petty officer). It is, however, a radically new
concept, firmly based on the principle that each grade has its definite place in the “operations” after which it is so aptly named. Thus, the able seaman is an operator, the leading seaman a controller, the petty officer and above a director. There is, however, much more to it than slapping on a new tally. The knowledge required for each grade is laid down in great precision, and the performance is closely monitored. “Precision” is the key word, and this is largely achieved by using task books.
The interest of these handy little volumes—there are around 40 to cover the various specializations (such as radar, sonar, electronic warfare, and tactical radio) in each of the three grades—is twofold. Their comprehensive question-and-answer format sets the standard; the various certificates to be signed by the owner’s superior ensure that this is maintained. Indeed, “standards” are very much to the fore in the Royal Navy’s thinking and are given formal expression by such terms as training performance standard
(TPS), achieved in shore training, and operationa performance standard (OPS), achieved at sea. The very real gap between the two is bridged by on-jo training (OJT) at sea. The Navy sets much store by high standards, which are applied to ratings and officers alike—even more strictly in the case of the latter. Defining the standards encourages their achievement.
An interesting contrast between the career structures of officers and ratings is that, whereas the former (within the lieutenant-to-lieutenant commander bracket) specialize in some aspect of warfare only toward the end of their time, the latter specialize to start with and come together at the chie petty officer level. The reason lies in the need for staff warfare experts in larger ships and on flag officers’ staffs, in contrast to the need for the chief Pett^ officer (or fleet chief) to supervise controllers and operators (i.e. leading seamen and able seamen) o differing specialties. The officers, who normally spend much longer in uniform than do the ratings, rejoin the common stream later in their careers, becoming progressively eligible for appointments spread over wider and wider fields. Finally, as officers on the flag list, all of them are (in theory at least) qualified for any appointment suitable to their
rank, with the sole exception that sea commands are reserved for the seaman officers.
Thus, the careers of junior seaman officers and operations ratings follow the same simple basic sequence of shore instruction, sea experience, qualificatory advancement (in the case of ratings), and then return ashore to start the next round. The operations rating follows a clearly defined path; that for the officer is necessarily more flexible, but the principles are similar. With them in mind we can inspect the two rms of training—ashore and afloat—in greater
faculties but a Single School: Until well after c e World War II, the Royal Navy continued to teach gunnery, torpedo-antisubmarine, communica- Cl°ns, navigation, and aircraft direction at separate Schools of considerable autonomy and not a little per- s°nal idiosyncrasy on the part of their products.1 The system served well enough, but the warfare officer scheme demanded a completely new approach. No n8er could the weapons be treated separately, not even as single weapon systems. All were now part of a single system—the ship—the job of which was Maritime operations.” To match this, the one-time ■udependent establishments merged into a single '''hole with the totally logical title of ‘‘The School of aritime Operations” (SMOPS) comprising five facul- tles: above-water, underwater, communications & navigation, maritime trade, and operations.2 This ast needs a little clarification, lest it be seen as covering the whole. Not only does it deal with radar and action information, but it is also the integrating agency for the subjects listed above. It centers round the operations room, the heart of the modern fighting ship.
Seaman Officers’ Training
Surface GL and
Ship’s OPS Officer Warfare Dept. HD. PWO Watchkeeper
A 21 U llYi C 15V2
Up to 60% of PWOs
Admiral’s Squadron Staffs
GWO AAWO Training
3 Streams A U C
60% of Cdrs. a Few Lt. Cdrs.
Includes S/M and Aviation Officers
e, Above-water U—Underwater C—Communications GL—General List SD—Special Duties (List) L~~Supplementary List PWO—Principal Warfare Officer GWO—Guided Weapons Officer
The School of Maritime Operations has two jobs; they are similar but with slightly different purposes. It trains individuals such as warfare officers or, in the case of ratings, as operators, controllers, and directors; it also trains teams to man ships. Individual training, in classes, is a prerequisite, but it is the team training that is its ultimate purpose. There is, of course, nothing new in this view, probably first demonstrated as battle winning by Lord Nelson’s “band of brothers.” Then it was the individual captains of a large fleet virtually bereft of communication once battle was joined. The principle was restated by Admiral Sir Max Horton, Commander-inChief Western Approaches, in 1943, when the tide was running strongly against the Allies in the North Atlantic. Stephen Roskill has written: “As Admiral Horton put it at an Admiralty conference at this time, ‘it could not be too often stressed that the trained group was the basis of [convoy] protection, not mere numbers of escort vessels. [Emphasis added]’”3 Horton was referring to the escort/support group of half a dozen vessels, with excellent and tactically secure communications but sometimes without a concerted purpose. Today the need for teamwork is, more often than not, within the single ship with perhaps her own or cooperating aircraft. These two
aspects of training call for two kinds of training aids, in that the simpler aspects of individual training can be done on quite simple gear, thus freeing the more complex mock-ups for full use by the teams. The result is economy rather than duplication.
The heart of SMOPS consists of the several operations room simulators. They are exact replicas of those in ships of the fleet. They are complex, the most realistic in the world of computer simulation, and extremely expensive. They can reproduce every possible situation—aircraft performance, turning circles, accelerations, effects of wind and sea, breakdowns—all exactly appropriate to the ship represented. The simulators are modern, but they cannot be entirely up to date for two reasons. First, sea experience of the class in question is necessary before it can be reproduced on computer tape. Second, the business of striking a balance between sea and shore, oversimplified into the question of whether the Navy spends its money keeping its simulators up to ate (bearing in mind the inevitable delay already note > plus the complication of half-life modernization) or accepts a measure of obsolescence as the price 0 another ship at sea. There is, indeed, no easy answer to this one, for it calls for nice broad judgment an plenty of prescience, including guessing which way the political cat will jump next.
with a simulator. For that one has to venture out into the cold, dark, dangerous ocean. But the simulator equips the man and the team to do so.
Tactics: The Royal Navy believes that it is not sensible to try to teach tactics simultaneously with what might be termed "drill.” It holds that the production of a high-quality fighting ship impedes the business of exercising her as a unit in her operational
From the purely training point of view there are, 0 course, immense advantages in the synthetic trainer ashore. Virtually any kind of ship, submarine, or air craft is, as it were, on call and in quantity. The out lay, while large compared with that of even a deca e ago, is trifling in terms of the time and money lC would cost for live exercises at sea. Moreover, faults can be quickly spotted and analyzed. In short, only one thing is lacking: one cannot fight actual action
r° e and that this disability applies afloat as well as s °te. At first sight, it would appear that an opportUnity is being wasted, but closer inspection does reVeal t^at it is not practical to teach them together, for 0ne or the other gets neglected.
At all events, the Maritime Tactical School, al* °ugh it shares the delightfully rural setting of HMS ryad* with the School of Maritime Operations, is ^ entirely separate outfit, under its own director, ewise, its modus operandi is different. Its purpose eing to allow the students to study tactics pure and SlrnPle> it ensures this by injecting entirely synthetic an processed data into the very simply furnished cubi- es in which the various “captains” have, at the j^ost, one display and one assistant. On the other and, the Tactical School is regarded as very much c e complement of the School of Maritime Opera- ti°ns, the assumption being that its students have a rea<^y passed through SMOPS and are now taking 1 e'r studies one stage higher. For instance, Captains-designate do a three-month refresher course ^ SMOPS into which is built a five-week period at aritime Tactical School. This key month could be ooked on as “practice in decision-making without tne risk.”
Of the various courses for seaman officers (other an submariners and airmen who, as ever, are laws t0 themselves) the most important to an officer’s future is the main PWO course which he attends after a out four years at sea as a lieutenant. Indeed, it is Sa‘d that, unless he passes this one, his future prospects are far from sparkling. Let us hope that the evel for passing is not set too high, for surely it is °w the postgraduate shows up at sea that counts, he Navy has never been too much impressed by explication results, so let us hope. An apparent Mediocrity in his late 20s may flower in his 40s. If it ls held—as it is, and rightly so—that tactics and drill are mutually exclusive, then might not also be Mstruction and examination/assessment? It is not a point that can be pursued here, but there is much to e said for sticking to teaching ashore and testing at sea- For, as every seaman knows in his heart, it is out rhere, on saltwater, that the men are sorted out from rhe boys. And "sea," in the present context, means Portland, Dorset, the domain of Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST).
Seagoing School: The present FOST, Rear Admiral Gwyn Pritchard (lately Captain SMOPS), flies his flag ^hore in HMS Osprey, as have his predecessors since rhe command was set up in 1958. Like his predecesSOrs> too, he is no desk-bound admiral. On at least rhree days in every week, year in year out, he is at sea in one or more of the ships of many nations under his care. Because of the number of warships from NATO and other friendly navies at Portland, the observer could be forgiven for assuming that FOST is an international authority, or at least a NATO commander. On the contrary, he is “strictly British,” responsible to Commander-in-Chief Fleet as a national commander. Visitors are welcome and come in a steadily increasing and continuous stream. The weekly practice program for a typical week in October 1977 was a massive 97-page opus produced under the hawk-eye of the staff officer (operations) on the previous Thursday. Typed at lightning speed and distributed within hours, it reveals the following ship count: Royal Navy, 13; Federal German Navy, two; Royal Netherlands Navy, two; Brazilian Navy, one; Canadian Armed Forces (Naval), one; Royal Fleet Auxiliary, three. In addition, the Commander Standing Naval Force Atlantic (Commodore K. H. L. Gerretse, flying his broad pendant in HNethMS Evertsen) had brought in his seven-ship force (RNethN, CAF(N), FGN, USN, PN, RNorN, RN) for a single day’s intensive use of Portland's splendid facilities. As it happened, the Brazilian frigate Defensora, spanking new from Vosper Thor- nycroft’s yard at Southampton, was the only representative from outside NATO. This stream, though small, is steady, with benefits to all parties that spread far beyond the mere acquisition of operational skill.
Training at Portland differs from that at Dryad in that it includes the whole ship but concentrates on teaching well-tried standard procedures rather than the development of tactics. FOST sees his mission in clear and uncompromising terms: to set the standard for the fleet and to impart that standard to every warship entrusted to him, whether this be for a few hours for a single exercise or for as long as seven weeks. Until quite recently, all this—and tactics as well—would have been done by the fleet at sea wherever it happened to be. Today, two important factors demand additional help to the fleet in this task. First, the increasing complication of every kind of shipborne gear has correspondingly increased the responsibility of even the most junior operator and hence the need for detailed and meticulous training on the job. Second, the operational commitments of the fleet, dancing (as these do) to capricious politics, both national and global, wreck any prospect of a firm and coherent training program. Portland has the experts to deal with the former and the freedom in which to avoid the latter.
In the matter of setting standards there has been a bonus. The visitors from overseas have, naturally,
been treated on exactly the same basis as the British. They have thus also been brought to these standards and have carried them away with them to their own navies. FOST has good reason to believe that to be sent to Portland, though it means hard work, is held among NATO’s navies as something of an honor for which only the best are considered. The fortunate ones are, in consequence, objects for emulation within their own services. Thus, FOST not only sets the standard for the Royal Navy, but he also plays an important part in setting the same standard for NATO or, at least, NATO in Europe. His principles and methods merit consideration.
Portland: The so-called Isle of Portland,5 a great lump of limestone jutting glumly out into the English Channel, is well placed to be a training center. Its exercise areas, over an arc of some 300 degrees of the compass, are all within a couple of hours steaming of the harbor. It is within reasonable distance of the main United Kingdom naval ports and dockyards and handy for associated air stations (rotary and fixed-wing, naval and Royal Air Force). Its only serious drawback is the shallowness of the water. The average depth of around 50-60 meters (27-33 fathoms) rules out the deep-diving (and steep-diving) nuclear submarine but is just enough for the diesel- electric type—remembering to keep an eye open for deep-laden tankers on their relentless way up- channel. By and large, however, Portland (though unglamorous—no one ever saw a poster “Come to sunny Portland”) fills the bill. From the work point of view there are precious few distractions.
FOST seeks to turn out the “compleat man-or- war,” efficient in all departments—not only in bet armament and its control but also in her engineering and supply departments, as mentioned at the start o this article. To help him he has his sea riders. These 110 staff officers (mostly lieutenant commanders an all recently back from sea) and instructors (FCPOS, CPOs, and POs) are at the heart of Portland training- Although it is the ship's own captain that works her up, the sea riders swarm over his ship every time he takes her to sea—to watch, help, advise, and comment. .
By European standards, Portland is a large organization. And, by the same yardstick, it handles a large number of ships. These two facts mean that each staff officer can exercise his own expertise to the full. The inclusion of rating instructors means that liaison can go straight across to equivalent rating or only slightly downward in the case of the able seaman operator. The instructor can find out just where things go wrong, and in workups things do g° wrong. This attention to detail, what might be called the “horseshoe nail system,” is all-important. Every man in the ship’s company receives the same meticulous attention, from staff officer or instructor as appropriate. It is good for morale and vital to efficiency.
Although Portland tries to cater for all tastes, indigenous and exotic, there are four general types of training program:
► Basic Operational Sea Training (referred to by its acronym BOST) is what its name suggests—the basic package. It applies for all new ships and for working up after modernization or long refit. This is top priority for FOST and his sea riders; yet, even though
Week One Week Two
as'c> it is by no means standard, being tailor niade (within limits) to suit the class, mission, and sophistication of the customer. This means that it Car* run for any period between three and seven Weeks. A typical sequence might be:
Shakedown—strictly speaking, outside BOST, but found to be an essential preliminary
Ffarbor—largely drill and check of material
Sea—every kind of seagoing activity, warlike and otherwise, single ship or in company,
Sea—with aircraft, submarines, and RAF as required
Harbor—including practice in such unusual jobs as aid to the Civil Power and Disaster Relief Mostly sea—including 36 hours at defense stations, possibly exercises in the deep waters of western English Channel Inspection
Continuation Sea Training (COST) is normally a our-week refresher taken about a year after BOST.
Operational Sea Training (OST) offers what might e termed the a la carte, in that it can be laid on Subject to the overriding priority of BOST) to suit the customer. The menu can range from a single se- r'al up to several days during which the ship or group uses Portland’s facilities and, if available, the Services of the sea riders.
^ Safety Sea Training (SOST) is unique to Portland, e*ng a week or so devoted to ensuring that the ship Is safe before embarking on her training or trials: Included are firefighting, damage control, basic navigation, and other seafaring essentials. For brand-new ships it normally precedes trials and BOST.
These outline the stock-in-trade of FOST, designed t0 carry on, at every stage, where SMOPS left off. •^gain, as at Dryad, in the background is the shadow °f the balance that has to be struck between the pro- V|sion of the largest possible number of fighting ships in the fleet at sea—the end product when all is said and done—and the business of ensuring that these are indeed fighting ships, ready, able, and will- lng to exert their full combat potential. In its philos- °phy of training, the Royal Navy believes that these ships of the fleet must be able to hold their own in a World Series so far as quality is concerned. From this stem three principles—first, that officers and men utust be organized for their ultimate purpose, hence the warfare officer and the operations branch; second, functions must be analyzed, defined, laid down, promulgated, and maintained—with training to match; third, and an extension of the second, that every ship is a single fighting system and thus one in which every single member has an important part to play.
So we end with a paradox: the more man is helped by “machines”—computer-aided decisions, lock-on radar, self-homing weapons—the harder his job seems to become. Is it now impossible? Far from it—always provided that his training has kept pace, ashore and afloat.
Commander Palmer joined the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in January 1926 and went to sea in 1929. Almost all of his service was in small ships, apart from brief periods before World War II in the carriers Courageous and Glorious and his last sea appointment as executive officer of the cruiser HMS Ceylon (Korea, 1950-5 1). He achieved command at the age of 24 in the English Channel. His subsequent service in the sloop Wellington (first lieutenant), and the destroyers Aldenham, Eglinton, and Zambesi (each in command) was likewise largely in home waters, as was his shore appointment as staff officer (operations) at The Nore (1951-53). He is a graduate of the Royal Naval Staff College and of the Royal Air Force Staff College, serving for two years on the directing staff of the latter (1947-49). On leaving the Navy in 1962, he took up writing on maritime affairs, contributing inter alia to the Proceedings, Sea Power, Reader's Digest, and Navy, being editor of the last-named from 1964 to 1970 and again, shortly after it became Navy International, from 1974 (which post he currently holds). His most recent publication is Jane's Dictionary of Navy Terms (1975).
Thus, to those not of their respective tribes, all gunnery officers were depicted as the owners (and constant users) of topsail-yard voices, torpedomen as lethargic, communicators as fops, and navigators as monkish anchorites of the compass platform. Where, we might ask today, are the oddballs of yesteryear?
Electronic warfare is included where appropriate.
3Quoted in S. W. Roskill, The War at Sea: 1939-1945, Volume II, The Period of Balance (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1956), p. 357.
4The Royal Navy names its shore stations after ships.
5Legend has it that the Chesil Beach, joining Portland to mainland Dorset, was thrown up within a single night by a storm violent even by Portland’s standards. Today Chesil protects the artificial harbor from the southwesterly swell but not from Portland’s famous line squalls. The weather can change from blue sky and force three seas to overcast and force ten in minutes. Luckily, Portland has holding ground to match, blue clay with the consistency of mature chewing gum. Along with the ten-knot tide race, this is no place for the landlubber. It’s all part of the training, one might say. Chesil itself adds a macabre footnote: if you fall in on its West Bay side, as likely as not you will stay in; the undercut beach takes care of that. And this is no legend.
6"For the want of a nail the shoe was lost, For the want of a shoe the horse was lost, For the want of a horse the rider was lost, For the want of a rider the battle was lost, For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost—And all for want of a horseshoe-nail.” (Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac).