Navy Officer (Former)

Navy Officer (Former)

GoNavy

New York, NY

Male, 28

I went to Yale NROTC and received a commission as a Navy SWO (ship officer). I didn't renew my service after the required years. I wanted to move on to make a civilian life for myself but not a day goes by that I don't miss the Navy.

My first sea assignment was a DDG (destroyer) on which I was a division officer overseeing more than 20 sailors. Then for shore duty I was an instructor at SWOS. For my final year I returned to a new ship as a division officer.

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Last Answer on October 13, 2014

Best Rated

What countries have the strongest naval forces, and do any of them measure up to the Americans?

Asked by USA over 6 years ago

The US Navy is the best. Not really debatable at all. China's and Russia's army and air force are powerful, but their Navies can not compare to the United States Navy.

Just some background on the US before I talk about other navies:

-The US has 10 active aircraft carriers currently (all supercarriers). This power alone outdoes any other entire Navy. 

I could say more, but that's about all you need.

But as far as other navies:

UK and France: Both have fairly strong navies. They are capable of a lot, but they probably rank at 4 and 5.

Russia and China: These are the runners-up to the US Navy. Again, no one comes close to the US Navy, but China and Russia have powerful navies that could be worthy opponents of the US Navy. That said, the US Navy would take them out eventually if they had to, it just wouldn't be super easy. Russia and China are the 2nd and 3rd most powerful navies (in no particular order).

Honorable mensions: Japan, India, Italy, maybe South Korea.

Any other navy than the ones listed above could probably be taken out in less than 24 hours by the US Navy.

If anything was not clear, please let me know and I'd be happy to answer any follow up questions.

Thanks for doing this Q&A, it's awesome! Do you think the importance of naval superiority is diminishing with advances in air technology, drones, long-range missiles, etc? IOW, in the future is it possible that all warfare will be from above?

Asked by CRJ81 about 6 years ago

Good question. In the late 20th century, the US Navy battship fleet was pretty much gone. The need for heavy gun power was not needed anymore. This is one way that the Navy adjusted to fit the times. They can do it again if necessary. Sure, those things you mentioned will grow more and more relevant, but the Navy will not shrink because of this. For example, many ships and all subs of the US Navy can launch missiles. They can launch drones too. They provide a platform (sometimes literally) for using these newer technologies.

Take the aircraft carrier for example: Sure planes can take off from land, but if they can take off from just off an enemy's coast, they can get places faster, and they don't have to worry as much about fuel.

Really any ship follows this idea. These massive machines allow force to be placed anywhere around the world. A plane can't fly around in the air for weeks or months without landing. A drone can't either. Missiles can't be in the air, waiting for their command to drop. A ship on the other hand, can wait for months in the sea, making sure that if planes, drones, missiles, or anything else is needed, it's there.

Was your ship ever called to assist in a pirate situation? And aren't those light-weight pirate skiffs basically faster than any other ship on the ocean, so does a big ship ever stand a chance of running one down?

Asked by billybob about 6 years ago

Yes a few times. It depends on the ship and the skiff. Our ships really are pretty fast, and can sometimes catch up to skiffs. But usually when we have these pirate situations, we send out a helicopter to intercept the pirates, as well as a drone. Helicopters are quite fast, as are drones. They can both trasmit info back to the ship and follow the pirates. The helicopter can fire on the pirates if necessary, but usually they will disable or just follow the pirates until the ship shows up with boats that can board and search the pirate skiffs. The exact numbers are classified, but a destroyer can go pretty fast. Wikipedia will give you whatever the published number is.

How much of a problem was insubordination in the Navy? And is there ANY room for push back if you're a junior officer, or are you required to simply do what you're told?

Asked by Jova about 6 years ago

Hey Jova. Sorry for the late reply. Sailors and officers are made well aware from their first minutes in the Navy that they are expected to follow the orders of officers ranked above them, and that behaving improperly (especially while wearing a uniform) is not tolerated. However, it isn't like they are scared crap-less of ever questioning authority.

Go back a few hundered years, and you'll see that Navies (and Armies too) typically had extremely harsh punishments for seemingly minor offenses. Sailors would be beaten for talking back to an officer. But those sailors were not any more disciplined than the sailors of today.

What I'm trying to say is that insubordination isn't much of a problem because sailors are well aware that they're expected to follow orders. But if a sailor has a reasonable and respectful objection to an order, any decent officer would be okay with it and respond appropriately.

As a junior officer, one probably should not have any reason to question their orders. There is a chain of command on every ship. Any major order that could endanger lives would have to go through the Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, and probably a few department heads (middle-level officers) before a junior officer is given this order.

Other than that, day-to-day orders are not usually controversial. Any problems can always be brought to a higher-up. (For example, a division officer having a problem with a department head can bring the concern to the XO or another senior officer.) It's usually fine to bring up a concern. It can save lives in certain situations.

When the US sends a warship to a zone where tempers are flaring (like now to the gulf), is it more symbolic than anything else? Or are there instances where those worships provide actual support / deterrent value?

Asked by zedguy2 over 6 years ago

Hey there. Great question. This really depends on the specific situation. First I'll briefly give a little background:

The main force of the US Navy that is sent to a world crisis is called a Carrier Strike Group. It is made up of an aircraft carrier, at least one destroyer, maybe some cruisers, maybe some frigates, support ships, and attack submarines. The idea is that this force can project a large amount of power to anywhere in the world.

The US will send a carrier to places for a number of reasons, including those you've listed above. For example, after 9/11, the Navy responded to the areas near Iraq and Afghanistan to provide things to troops on the ground. Mostly air support. When the country is engaged in a war, this is what a carrier's job is.

In situations like the current one, a carrier can act as a detterant that does nothing, something, or a lot. The idea is that the carrier is always ready to do whatever is needed. Sometimes they will just be there as a show of force.

They can also provide non-combat support to ground operations. This means providing logistical support, intellience, supplies, and sometimes medical/dental care if needed.

So the short answer would be that it depends on the situation. The carrier and its escorts provide a platform for combat operations, as well as support operations. Ultimately, this decision comes down to what the President, military leaders, and Congress wants.

If you want anymore information, please ask. I hope this helped.

Great answer! Sounds like the primary task of navy ships is as seaborne support for other military functions eg refueling jets, launching missiles, mobile command bases. Do you think we'll ever see "old-school" ship-on-ship warfare anymore?

Asked by CRJ81 about 6 years ago

Glad you liked the answer. I guess the main reason why old school naval combat will continue to exist during wars is that since there are ships out there anyway, they will inevitably want to engage in combat if there is a war going on.

Think about it: If a ship providing support to air and ground ops was approached by an enemy vessel (big or small) there would need to be a response to defend the ship. But you are right that it will slowly fade away over time, but never completely. Plus, ships rarely get close to each other considering that an enemy ship can be discovered on radar and destroyed by missiles when it's miles away.

Ship-to-ship missiles would be the most useful weapons in a future ship-to-ship naval battle. The guns are still imporant though. It's really just about defending the ship.

How do fighter jets "escort" fighter jets from a foreign country out of their airspace? I get that you can radio them and ask them pretty please to turn around, but what incentive do they have to comply? Is there an implicit threat of force?

Asked by John over 5 years ago