Navy Officer (Former)

Navy Officer (Former)


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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48 Questions


Last Answer on October 13, 2014

Best Rated

What's the most dangerous situation you were ever personally in?

Asked by David over 6 years ago

As a Navy officer onboard a ship, danger came in the form of accidents, not attack.

There have been a few times when my adrenaline has gone up considerably, though.

Here's a list I came up with:

-Helped put out a fire in the engine room.

-Our ship was on a collision course with a ship that did not respond to radio messages. The Commanding Officer likely saved our lives by ordering the ship to turn off course as quickly as possible (called evasive action) instead of demanding the ship to follow our orders.

-Recreational motorboat came suspiciously close to our ship near Spain. They came closer than the required distance. We did not engage the boat, but it was pretty scary. (see "USS Cole attacks for info on why this was so dangerous).

These are all I could think of. Sailors and officers on aircraft carriers have the unique danger of the flight deck. It's considered one of the most dangerous workplaces.

Best wishes.

So you went to Yale NROTC. Did you also apply to the Naval Academy?

Asked by Real deal over 6 years ago

When I began the college application process I did considered USNA. I did not apply though.

This was for two reasons:

1) I wanted to experience the traditional college experience. Only NROTC could do that, not USNA.

2) I knew that I was going to have another career after the Navy. Yale had many more majors available. USNA has good majors but there weren't as many as Yale.

Both programs are great. It's basically a matter of preference.

Did you see (or were you subjected to) any crazy hazing stuff?

Asked by Conway.T over 6 years ago

Hey there! During my service I never saw crazy hazing customs. There were some traditions that were done when someone achieved some kind of qualification, but serious hazing would not be allowed. (Except of course for any offiicial Navy required tests)

I've seen a lot of interviews with guys who led teams in Iraq/Afgh. who describe their servicemen as super-smart / from the best schools, which is totally at odds with the stereotypical high-school dropout enlistee. Which is closer to the truth?

Asked by Terry123 over 6 years ago

This is truly a great question. I'm glad you asked this. As you might know, there are officers and enlisted in the Navy. Most officers have at least 4-year college degrees. I'd guess that about 10-20% of enlisted has college degrees. Going back as recently as maybe 30 years ago, many servicemen could be high school dropouts. Today, I'd say 99% have high school diplomas at least.

For the most part, I've worked with some very smart individuals. Most of them did not yet have a college degree. But still, they were very dedicated and intelligent. I really hope that they went on to get a degree, because they were very capable.

So in short: Servicemen are definitely not the stereotypical high-school dropouts. It's basically 1 in 100 to find someone without a high school diploma in the military. A lot of them are very smart. Although they didn't all have fancy college degrees, they probably didn't because they chose to join the military ASAP.

Interesting fact: The military is actually more educated than the rest of America. About 85% of officers have 4-year college degrees, compared to 31% of all Americans. About 99% of enlisted (non-officers) have HS diplomas, compared to 88% of all Americans.

Have any crazy fleet week stories? (And just how wild do women go for Navy guys in their white outfits strutting about the city?)

Asked by kenzee over 6 years ago

I have never been to Fleet Week as someone in the Navy. I've heard rumors, but I really have no idea what it's like. Sorry!

What kind of attitude towards Americans did you experience in foreign countries? Was there any additional animosity given that you're part of the "big, bad" US military "policing the world"?

Asked by TonyaFrisco over 6 years ago

Usually we had decent experiences with foreigners. There were a few times when people refused to serve us for political reasons and the sort.

We also had some pretty cool experiences too. It's especially great when a foreign kid who could've been brought up to hate America shows an interest in you. I love answering kids questions.

Have a great day.

Why do you think so many people (incl you, apparently) miss the military after they get out. Granted I've never served myself, but I can't imagine that I wouldn't long for some stability after years of risking life and limb.

Asked by 2BILLS over 6 years ago


You ask a great question. It's important for me to put it out there that I haven't really risked "life and limb" during my service. Many have, but not me. One major misconseption about the military is that everyone ends up fighting. Especially in this day and age, that's not the case. Sure, no branch is completely safe. Accidents happen. But overall, I'd say "stability" can be found in the military much more than in the civilian world. This is one issue that sadly affects thousands of vets. Members of the military follow strict rules and schedules. They have some freetime now and then, but their day is very organized depending on how you look at it. When people become civilians again, they are in a society that is the opposite. Some people just can't adjust.

For me, this wasn't much of a problem. My thing was that the excitement and rewarding experiences that I've been through will never happen again. As an officer, I've had the privilage to lead scores of men. Ranging in age from 18 to 40+, it was kind of strange for their leader to be a 22-27 year old. I had the opportunity to be both a student, and a teacher. I was almost always the most educated person in my division, but not even close to the most experienced.

So for me, it was hard to let that go. But I know I can move on. Some (especially those with longer times in service) have a much harder time adapting to a new society.

I hope this answered your question.

Why are so many ex-military guys reticent to talk about their service? Even good friends of mine quickly change the subject when I want to know about what they did/saw in Iraq.

Asked by GeorgeFLA over 6 years ago

Well I'm assuming that you're referring to troops who've seen combat. I have not. They probably had some bad memories of combat. That could mean friends being wounded in combat, even killed, or maybe just the sound of enemy gunfire made them anxious. Sorry I don't have a more detailed answer. Again, I was an officer on a ship.

What exactly was your service commitment, and did you want to see active duty in a warzone?

Asked by Darryn over 6 years ago

Hey there Darryn! I had two requirements for service:

1) 8 years total service.

2) No less than 5 years of active duty.

This means that when I finished active duty, I needed to be in the Reserves for 3 years. The basic difference is Active Duty is full time, while Reserves is part time (at least 1 weekend per month, one 2-week period per year.)

As a Surface Warfare Officer, I was respondsible for part of the operations onboard a ship. Therefore, I never fought in ground combat. I was, however, on a ship that did serve in hostile areas. "Active Duty" refers to anyone who's in the Navy full-time. It has nothing to do with how much they fight. So in a way I was kind of in a warzone, but on a ship, miles away from the brave soldiers and Marines on the ground. That isn't to say that the sailors on my ship weren't brave. A ship is a very dangerous environment if you don't know what you're doing. Accidents do happen.

Can you see any scenario in which the US reinstates the draft? I hear it mentioned from time to time, but how realistic is that, barring WW3?

Asked by DJL over 6 years ago

Not very realistic. When the draft was used in the past, the peacetime military before the draft was much smaller than during the war. Today, the US has a strong military during peace AND war.

Also, with the technology we have today, the number of troops is not as important as the quality of the equiptment and of course the training of each soldier.

So a draft would probably not be useful anymore. The military is big enough. More troops wouldn't do much good.

The only scenario where I could see a draft would be an all out WW3. I mean if there's fighting all over then I guess we'd need more people, but I still doubt it.

Is talking politics in the military off-limits? And does serving in the military have a notably different feel when the President is a Democrat vs. a Republican?

Asked by Ahsad over 6 years ago

Hey Ahsad,

It's definitely not off-limits. I've seen people argue about politics more than a few times. But for the most part, it isn't much of an issue as far as friendships go.

The majority of officers in the Navy are Republicans. I identify as a Democrat. (I'm also Jewish which makes me part of a very small minority in the military.)

Enlisted servicemembers on the other hand are mixed between the parties. They're much more liberal than officers on average, but overall I'd say the military is conservative.

As a democrat, I don't want to feel that a Democratic president is any worse for the military than a Republican. Many of my friends had this feeling. In my opinion, Obama may not be perfect, but some of my fellow officers had some pretty ignorant negative beliefs about him. I served during both the Bush and Obama administrations. I didn't feel a major difference. Others might have imagined one.

I hope this answered your question.

What is the sequence of ROTC programs? Do you go to school first, then do military service, or the other way around? Also, do you have to pay *anything* for college, or is it a full-ride?

Asked by Brandon over 6 years ago

ROTC is always school before military service. When you graduate, you become an officer (leader) in the military. There are also programs for enlisted (non-officer) men and women to go to college after their service, but that's another story.

One important thing to know: The majority of officers in the military have at least a 4-year college degree. Most enlisted do not. The three major ways to become an officer are ROTC (civilian school+military training), service academy (school that is 100% military), or OCS (school first then military training later.) These all involved having a degree.

Whether or not you have to pay anything depends. Some have full scholarships while others do not.

You idiot ur a democrap and military you can't be both. Obama hates the military. There's a conspiracy for him to take all your money for his self. You suck. So do all liberals.

Asked by Liberals is dumb over 6 years ago

Haha this guy^^^

I've never heard of that conspiracy. Maybe you have a special sense so only you know the truth. Lol. If you want to share your ignorant comments then find another place. Don't worry there are plenty other conservative conspiracy theorists out there. They aren't exactly hard to find online.

If you suddenly decide to ask an intelligent question about the Navy, please do. And I'd be glad to answer it/them. (Maybe use a different alias next time. Y'know, one that doesn't makes you look like an a**.

Hi, I'm in high school and want to serve my country but I don't want to be on the ground in a warzone with bullets whizzing by me. Are there options in the military where I could avoid that or is EVERYONE subject to getting sent to a combat zone?

Asked by Elliott over 6 years ago

Glad you asked.

Actually, the majority of jobs in the military really have nothing to do with fighting. Especially in the Navy. Check out any of the websites for more info, but I'd say that if you didn't want to go into combat, there are still so many other things you can do in the military.

Did you have a really strict code of conduct when you'd dock and have some free time (if that ever even happened) in whatever country you were in?

Asked by DB over 6 years ago

Yes when a ship goes on longer deployments, it will stop at various ports of call. We'd get some free time, but there was always a crew onboard to deal with any emergencies. We basically had to follow the laws of the country, and the general rules of the Navy/military. If you wouldn't do it at home, you wouldn't do it in a different country.

What different kinds of ships could you have gotten placed on: destroyer, aircraft carrier, submarine, etc? Did you CHOOSE destroyer and why?

Asked by epic24 over 6 years ago

When you graduate from NROTC, you have three initial options: Navy, Marines, Nursing

When you choose Navy, there's anyother set of options, including:

-Surface Warfare-operating ships (what I did)

-Submarine Warfare-operating submarines

-Two aviation options (one is pilots, the other is for other jobs with aviation)

-Special Warfare (SEAL's etc)

After someone chooses Surface Warfare, they then have the option of ships. Yes, I could have requested an aircraft carrier, cruiser, frigate, amphibious ship, etc. (Not a subarmine.) I requested a destroyer because there is a crew of 250-300 which is much more personal and engaging than a 3000-6000 crew aircraft carrier.

Hope this helped! If it didn't let me know.

If you had to guess, what percentage of military personnel are Republicans? Did you know any Democrats? Were the latter more likely to keep quiet about their political views?

Asked by Sammy D over 6 years ago

Hey Sammy,

Actually, according to a survey, only 43.8% of the military ID's as republican. That's down from 56% in 2005.

Still, there are far more Republicans than Democrats. The same survey says that 9.7% ID's as Democrat, so obviously the rest are independent or refused to answer.

I did kind of know some other Democrats. My first wardroom (which is physically the officer's dining room/lounge but also refers to the officers on a ship) didn't have many outspoken people on either side. I'd say of the 25-30 officers in my wardroom, 4 would say they were democrat and about 15 would say Republican. I didn't see much of a difference as far as how much they spoke their views, but I'm sure many other groups could not say the same. Of course I'm only talking about officers not enlisted. Enlisted tends to be a bit more Democrat, although they are still fairly conservative.

Ask again if there's anything I could've explained better!

I know women can't be Navy SEALs, but did you ever serve with any women you think could have cut it as a SEAL or made it through training?

Asked by Mehico over 6 years ago

Going through officer training I was in a unit with not a whole lot of other people. Some were women, but of those who were, most were interested in nursing, Surface Warfare, and aviation. (Submarine and special ops are the other options but they don't allow women, yet). Someone who enlisted might have more expereince with women who wanted to be SEALs. Sorry about that. Overall I'd guess that women would rather prove themselves first in other less selective combat units, because they've just been allowed to do that not too long ago.

If women want to prove themselves (which I know they can) they need to work their way from less selective to more prestigious units. If a bunch of women went through SEAL training and failed, it wouldn't look too great to the rest of the military.

How much cross-training goes on in the Navy?

Asked by Rob over 6 years ago

It depends on two things: Ship size and the type of training.

Smaller ships (and submarines) have more cross-training. For example, in the Coast Guard, some small cutters do not have a designated medic onboard. In this case, someone who has another job will be the cutter's EMT who can treat a casualty until more advanced care arrives.

Subs definitely deserve their own paragraph. Submariners must be qualified in every aspect of the sub. Damge control, engineering, etc. They have the most intense cross training.

As far as the type of training, certain things will be introduced to everyone, while other things are left to specialists. Damage control (flood/fire fighting) is taught to everyone, not just those who are designated as damage controlmen. Weapons maintnence probably won't be.


How many people did you serve with who wanted out of the Navy ASAP but couldn't get out because of their commitment? And I was always curious why just announcing you were gay (even if a lie) wasn't a shortcut to getting a ticket home.

Asked by LF over 6 years ago

Hey there. Great question. I'd say about 1 in 50 guys I've lead truly wanted out. Most were tired/bored/fed up with the lifestyle. Not usually new guys.

Being openly gay is allowed in the military now. But before it was this way, (Don't Ask, Don't Tell):

1) You'd be dishonorably discharged. This means no benefits, and you can't get another government job.

2) If you were not gay (you lied), and they found out, you could be put in prison for lying.

But of course now it's okay to be gay in the military, so this doesn't apply. I'd say it's better now than before, but many would disagree.

Which other branch of the military was the Navy most competitive with?

Asked by EmmaSloan over 6 years ago

I'm not exactly sure what you're asking. As far as spirit and stuff, we usually compete with Army as far as jokes and the Army-Navy football game.

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


Hello, I got reclassified as a hospital corpsman - dental assistant after getting dropped from the seal program, I want to go FMF and don't have an interest in being a dental assistent, any chance I could get that changed during my A school? Thanks

Asked by Logan Harrington almost 4 years ago


Is all the stuff i hear about women in the navy true? Is there alot of cheating and adultery ?

Asked by Dice98 about 3 years ago


What is the Beedonk?

Asked by Richard over 2 years ago


When the Coxswain says “Man line 1” what do you say back to him?

Asked by Richard over 2 years ago


What is a tourniquet used for?

Asked by Richard over 2 years ago


Hello, I am doing research on the Navy and I was hoping you could answer a very specif question, On the naval base how would Navy Seals get summoned for dinner? Would it be a bell, a trumpet, or is communal organized eating a thing of the past?

Asked by Kayla over 2 years ago


Hello I was wondering in the navy is there a field of medicine I'm trying to be a doctor if not then I'll be a teacher is there a field for a teacher

Asked by Danny pantoja almost 4 years ago


I have a four year degree and am currently teaching English in Japan. I feel as though I don't really know what the next step in my life should be. Recently, I have been looking into becoming an officer in the Navy. What advice can you give me?Thanks

Asked by Chris-P about 4 years ago


My son just graduated with a degree in Foreign Policy and a minor in Arabic - GPA 3.1. He took the OAR recently and scored 46. He wants to go to OCS and be assigned to Naval Intelligence. Should he wait and take the OAR again - or move ahead now ?

Asked by Dad with a question almost 5 years ago


From your time on the seas how realistic a movie do you think Captain Phillips was?

Asked by brix almost 6 years ago


What's the biggest civilian airliner that, if it were in trouble, could actually land on an aircraft carrier?

Asked by BJ over 5 years ago


Did you know anyone who was on the USS Cole when it was bombed? Were there Navy procedures that weren't followed which led to that tragedy?

Asked by Meghan almost 6 years ago


How many ports in the world could the Navy's biggest warships actually dock at?

Asked by Bill almost 6 years ago


If someone was in the navy, what are some of the basic things they should know?

Asked by Rodney over 4 years ago


What are some of the basic questions someone who served in the navy should be able to answer?

Asked by Rodney over 4 years ago


My fiancé wants to get married he is in the Navy. I love him, but there are so many stories and blogs about infidelity being normal especially when deployed. Should I worry about this as a part of the culture?

Asked by Lizz over 4 years ago


Hi I know I'm around a year late but maybe you'll see this still. I was recently watching a documentart about the malayan scouts(later a detachment of the SAS) and started wondering how a military unit is formed. How does this work?

Asked by FutureOfficer almost 5 years ago


Are the Australian and New Zealand men equal of any regular soldiers in the world?

Asked by Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Plugge 11 months ago


I know that male-on-male sexual assault happens in the military, but the numbers that the press is putting out seem too insanely high to be true. What do you think?

Asked by David almost 6 years ago


What is the Beedonk?

Asked by Timothy .S almost 3 years ago