|The Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist Badge (also known as the "ESWS pin") is authorized for wear by any enlisted member of the United States Navy who is permanently stationed aboard a navy afloat command and completes the Enlisted Surface Warfare qualification program and personal qualification standards (PQS).|
those who possess "underway rates",
that is to say enlisted ratings which may only be assigned onboard
underway vessels, the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist Badge must be
obtained after three years as a Second Class Petty Officer. Those
failing to qualify are unable to re-enlist in their current rate. On
each assignment to a new sea-going command, if Surface Warfare is the
sailor's primary community, the sailor must re-qualify ESWS, though
requalification standards are somewhat accelerated, and are often
basically refreshers. Sailors for whom ESWS is their secondary
community (mostly those in the Air Warfare
community) are not required to requalify.
Surface Warfare is a special qual. The surface command decided it liked having quals for general knowledge of a ship just like the submariners have their subsurface qualifications. All submarine sailors get submarine qualified but not all surface sailors get their surface warfare qualifications. They won't consider you for Chief anymore unless you have it. Surface Warfare has to do a partial requalification on every ship they get on for the Items particular to that ship. The initial qualification is very extensive. Ours on the Kawishiwi was particularly difficult because we had to learn all the Usual Navy quals plus extra ones for the MSC. Normally they only have people on the board from the ship you are qualifying on but since our ship only had 2 SW Officers they had to borrow people from 3 other commands to ask us questions. They can ask you general questions on almost any thing about Navy ships. Supply, Engineering, Damage Control Engineering, Electronics Warfare, Fire Control, Deck, Combat Systems, etc etc.
The good thing about Surface Warfare is that if there is a missing critical person in a position the SW people will have an Idea of how to get the job done. Air Warfare has its own quals also. You have to know everything about all the Navy Aircraft and Helicopters.
They started the Surface Warfare program on the Kawishiwi soon after I got on board. The Commander Sea Lift Command came on board for a surprise visit and we brought the idea up to him. He liked the Idea and some MSC ships had already started doing the quals and he made it possible for us to do our Quals on the Kawishiwi. They made sure our packages would pass muster on any ship that we requaled on next.
There are about 20 military people who have SW quals from the USNS Kawishiwi.