Shiphandling is a skill the surface warfare community constantly emphasizes, stressing its importance and centrality to the naval profession. Like any skill, it requires time and attention to develop, maintain, and improve. In the wake of 2017’s tragic collisions in the Pacific, the many changes to surface warfare training have included additional assessments and a significant increase in training ashore. However, the community still lacks a structured and standardized system with which to guarantee shiphandling opportunities for all officers at sea.
The cultural expectation for second-tour division officers and department heads is to tackle advanced qualifications in the combat information center and engineering. Simultaneously, these officers largely become uninvolved in bridge watchstanding and adopt an attitude that driving the ship no longer is their responsibility or concern. A new culture is needed in which all surface warfare officers believe they belong on the bridge driving the ship.