At the U.S. Naval Station San Diego, Pier 6, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer moors under normal conditions—flood tide about two-tenths of a knot and wind from the northwest gusting to eight knots—a frequent and normal event with no other ships at the 1,100-foot-long and 650-foot-wide pier. It's another great day in sunny San Diego. What may attract the attention of Navy veterans would be that this highly capable warship has two V-drive tugs made up and the red and white "Code Hotel" flags are hanging limp from the port yardarm, signifying that a harbor pilot is on board to assist with the landing. Needless to say, the landing would go very well and surely the deck log would reflect a successful evolution. The conditions are normal for today's fewer-than-300-ship Navy and another example of "valet parking" as described in Captain Stuart Landersman's article "Where Have All the Shiphandlers Gone?" in Proceedings' August 2006 issue. Valet parking—a term that is right on the mark. At this same pier 30 years ago a different picture would have been painted. The U.S.
What's an SWO Badge Worth?
Not too many years ago, the surface warfare community had it right with Destroyer School. It was a victim of its own success. Today, there is nothing like it—at least nothing that does the job as well.
By Captain A. Lee Kaiss, USN (Ret.)