Down on the waterfront each June and July, newly minted ensigns arrive at their respective quarterdecks. There is a noticeable difference between these prospective surface warriors and their peers in the aviation and submarine communities. Besides the platform and the working uniform, a much greater distinction exists: these surface line officers have reported to their ships without having common surface warfare schooling.
Only one warfighting community in the U.S. Navy sends its officers to the Fleet with no community training, and it's the "original" naval officer: the aspiring surface warfare officer, or SWO.
In the wardroom, the chief's mess, the work center, and the junior-officer staterooms, there has been general criticism of the elimination in 2003 of the old SWO division officer pipeline. Persuasive writers with decades of collective experience as naval officers have debated the subject in Proceedings and elsewhere. Both sides have raised good points. Nevertheless, the new pipeline for surface line officers remains strong and is getting stronger.