Etiquette at Sea
By Captain Joe Sensi, U.S. Navy
With battle group operations less frequent today, along with the advent of e-mail, chat rooms, and telephone access at sea, many at-sea and ashore communication routines have changed.But surface etiquette need not be abandoned. To help ensure that it is not, I have selected ten major rules. There are many more, but these are particularly important.
1. Ships joining at sea: When ships join at sea, they should report for duty assigned to the senior officer present afloat (SOPA) or the officer in tactical command if that is not SOPA. In some cases a procedure is in place to report to the screen commander. This should be done via flashing light or Fleet tactical radio telephone voice circuit. Chat, a modern version of instant messaging at sea, is for coordination and not the primary means of exchanging tactical signals. An e-mail to the operations officer or tactical action officer is also inappropriate. It is expected that flagships will guard the circuits for embarked staffs. The call sign of the SOPA, officer in tactical command, or screen commander should be used.