Operations Billet Specialty

Surface Warfare Officers School Command

Department Head Combat Systems

Newport, Rhode Island



REV: 03/98






(a) OPNAVINST 3120.32B (U.S. Navy SORM)


( c) FACSFACVACAPEINST 3120.1 Series (Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, Virginia Capes)

(d) FACSFACSANDIEGOINST 3120.1 Series (Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility, San Diego)

(e) AFWTFINST 3120.1 Series (Atlantic Fleet Weapons Training Facility)

(f) NUSCINST 5100.6 Series (AUTEC Range Manual)

(g) COMNAVSURFPACINST 3120.1Series (Operating Notes for SOCAL Areas)

(h) OPNAVINST 3128.3 (Visit by U.S. Navy Ships to Foreign Countries)


As discussed in lesson topics 72.2 and 72.3, long range scheduling planning and shorter range (quarterly) employment schedule planning are major concerns for the operations officer. Another big concern for the Ops Boss is near term planning. The operations officer drives the entire schedule for the ship, which means that when the ship gets underway for a short one week ISE period, the Ops Boss has put together a detailed schedule of events covering every hour of every day for the entire ship for the whole week. This is not an easy task. This lesson discusses the techniques and mechanics of short range scheduling, generally those items planned within 3 months (within 90 days). It also discusses how short range plans are put together, how requirements are coordinated, inputs solicited and detailed schedule of

events, whether a two day training anchorage to a month long fleet exercise, are constructed. This lesson will concentrate on planning for short underway operations and exercise periods.


The operations officer is the Master of Ceremonies. For any shipboard evolution, he/she is normally in the center coordinating the efforts of the shipís departments. When a ship gets underway, Ops requests the tugs and pilots, sends out the SORTS messages and LOGREQS, requests the underway services and OPAREA clearance for transits and underway operations. He or she also coordinates the shipís schedule of events, balancing the inputs of the other department heads, and crafting a detailed plan in order to maximize underway training opportunities.


Planning for even a short one week ISE period can start 6 months in advance when inputs for the upcoming Fleet CINCís Quarterly Employment Schedule Conference are being put together or even earlier when the operations officer develops the shipís long range schedule. Generally, planning for a one week underway ISE period would begin at least three months prior to the evolution. The key, as always, is planning long range.


1. LONG RANGE PLAN. Determine the big picture. What is it you want to accomplish during this underway period. Are you coming out of ROH and need to get underway for Pre-ECERT engineering training or pre-CSSQT equipment checks? Have you been in port greater than 30 days for a RON and need to get the crew back in the saddle before getting underway for CART, TSTA, or a major Fleet exercise? Whatever your overall objectives/goals are will determine the training and the evolutions you conduct during the underway period.

2. COíS GUIDANCE AND DEPARTMENT HEAD INPUTS. Once you have a general idea of what you want and need to accomplish, get inputs from your

fellow Department Heads and agree upon a general plan. Then, go brief the CO/JO. Get the Captainís inputs, desires, and concurrence on your overall plan.

3. BIG TICKET AND LONG LEAD ITEMS. Sit down with your fellow Department Heads and determine the big ticket items (CSSQT Missile Firing exercise, Pre-ECERT rehearsal requirements, LAMPS Week One Work-Ups, Caribbean port visit, towing exercise, Deck Landing Quals, etc.) These big ticket items will drive your schedule. Once you have identified the big ticket items, determine long lead time requirements. For example, if you are planning on conducting an out-CONUS port visit you will need diplomatic clearance. This can take 6O to 9O days advance notice. Reference (h) outlines OPNAV guidance for ship visits to foreign ports and diplomatic clearance. If you are planning on a missile, it may take WEPS/CSO at least 9O days to order a TLM bird for the shoot. Furthermore, certain fleet and OPAREA services require a long lead time (which is why they are normally identified in advance during the Fleet CINCís Quarterly Employment Scheduling Conference).

4. DRAW UP A ROUGH SCHEDULE OF EVENTS (SOE). Once you have determined what major items need to be accomplished, put together a rough Schedule of Events (SOE) covering the entire underway period. Your rough plan may look something this.


05050 A.M MSFD GQ

05100 P.M AW Trackex Services/MSLEX Prep

06050 A.M. NSSMS Missilex OPAREA 2831

06100 P.M NSSMS MSLEX Same


06150 P.M. Full Pwr Trial MSLX B/U not used

Note: The assignment of event numbers is spread out (050,100,150 etc) when you put together a rough SOE in advance. Once you "flesh out" your rough with detailed, hour by hour, the event number will run closer together (OO4, OO6, O10, 105, etc.). By spreading out the event number assignment you can make changes to the SOE (add/drop events) without changing the sequence of your events and event numbers.



S. REQUESTING SERVICES AND OPAREA CLEARANCE. Approximately six weeks prior (and the longer the lead time the better), and with the rough SOE in hand, liaison with the cognizant FACSFAC/OPAREA Coordinator to determine if OPAREAs are clear and services are available on the day, at the time, and in the area, you want them. They can give you a general idea over the phone of what is available. Based on this, modify your rough SOE to conform to what is available and submit a hard copy request to FACSFAC/OPAREA Coordinator for the services/OPAREAs discussed. This message should go out NLT 30 days prior (again, the earlier the better). References (c) through (i) outline the requirements for requesting services and clearance from the respective OPAREA Coordinators.

6. DETAILED SCHEDULE OF EVENTS (SOE). About two to four weeks prior to getting underway, solicit detailed inputs from your fellow department heads during PBFT for their desires for the underway period. With those inputs construct a detailed schedule of events, balancing the various departmental requirements. Your SOE should cover every hour of every day during the underway period. From setting sea and anchor detail to pulling back in port.

FALL BACK PLAN. Build into your SOE a fall-back plan. If the weather turns bad during your missile, plan a fall-back day to conduct the exercise. If for some reason, the support plane never shows up, have a fall back exercise to fill in the time! Bottom Line: Maximize your training underway.

8. GET THE WORD OUT. Once you have completed your plan/SOE, promulgate it to the ship. Discuss the plan at Planning Board for Training at least two weeks prior and refine it. Put it in the form of a shipís notice and get the COís approval (I.E. signature!) to make it official. Make sure all the departments get a copy of the underway plan/SOE. Publish the major all-hands evolutions in the Plan of the Week.

9. UNDERWAY PREPARATIONS. Hand-in-hand with putting the plan together is preparing for the underway period. Make sure that all the long lead items identified several weeks ago are taken care of and that underway preps are on track. For the operations officer, here are some of the major items that need to be addressed/submitted:

a. Deck Department (FFG/DD-963/DDG-5l):

1. Shipís boats checked out and ready.

2. Deck equipment (and supporting auxiliary equipment)

checked out and operational.

3. Tows for selected exercises on board and rigged.

4. Anchor tested. Lines broken out.

b. Aviation Department (FFG/DD-963/DDG-5l):

1. Facilities certified and prepared for aircraft


2. Helicopter Detachment embarked.

3. Shipboard personnel trained, certified, and briefed on

upcoming aviation operations.

c. CIC (All):

1. Navigation training conducted.

2. Pre-Exercise and navigation briefs conducted.

3. Appropriate charts procured.

4. Schedule of events posted.

  1. Communications:

1. Frequency Request sent and reply received.

2. Guard Shift.

3. Communications Plan drawn-up, approved, and promulgated.

4. Circuits check-out. Failed equipment repaired.

5. Appropriate CMS in hand for upcoming exercises.

e. General:

1. Tugs and pilot arranged.

2. Services and OPAREA clearance confirmed.

3. Training Teams and training support arranged.

1O. REQUIRED MESSAGES. In addition to the myriad of preparations, the following is a list of some of the messages that may have to be submitted (as required):


To aid in preparing for an underway period, the following is a general planning timeline:

90 Days Prior:

* Determine overall objectives of the underway period.

* Get inputs from your fellow department heads.

* Brief overall plan to the CO of what you want to accomplish.

* Determine Big Ticket items(major exercises and evolutions that you want to get accomplished).

* Identify long lead items (diplomatic clearance for out CONUS port visits, hard to get services, and special ammunition or

TLM birds for AWmissile exercises).

* Coordinate with Reserve detachment for underway


60 Days Prior:

* Draw up a rough SOE.

* Contact FACSFAC.

* Determine availability of OPAREAs and required services for the days you need them. Based on verbal availability, adjust your rough schedule to accommodate the services.

* Submit diplomatic clearance requests for Out-CONUS port visits (as required).

* Submit OPAREA Clearance and Service Request message to FACSFAC and appropriate OPAREA coordinators.

* Once Request message received, confirm availability of services and OPAREAs.

* If conducting an out-CONUS port visit, submit appropriate arrival LOGREQ for that port (normally 60 days prior, however, certain ports require up to 90 days).

15 Days Prior:

* Construct a detailed SOE (and a fall-back plan).

* Discuss your plan with the CO/XO and bring to PBFT for smoothing and refining.

One Week Prior:

* Publish the detailed SOE. Include major all-hands

evolutions in the upcoming Plan of the Week.

* Discuss/brief the crew on the upcoming schedule of events.Conduct as part of Officerís Training.

* Conduct engineering, deck, and combat systems equipment checks (diesels, auxiliaries, anchor, accom ladder, stern gate, boat booms, cranes, stern gate, bow ramp, sonar, guns, launchers, etc.) to ensure that they are fully operational.

* Conduct communications checks (one week prior and at least one day prior to getting underway).

* Submit Departure LOGREQ requirements (normally 5 working days prior or at least prior to the weekly port/berthing meeting).

* Pre-Ex message(s) submitted (normally 3 working days prior to the event).

1-3 Days and Underway

* Conduct Navigation Brief (24 hours)

* Pre-Ex briefs in the wardroom.

* Light off.

* Submit Departure MOVREP.

* Confirm tugs and pilot.

* Final communications checks.

* Pre-Underway checks completed.

* Submit Underway SORTS message.

E. GENERAL GUIDANCE. The following are some recommendations for successful scheduling in preparation for an underway period:

1. INPORT TRAINING. Austere budgets have mandated that ship's conduct a significant amount of U/W type training inport. Fencing off dedicated periods, similar to Fast Cruise, is an effective way to ensure optimum participation. The longer lead approach to scheduling this period is required to ensure off ship commitments have minimal affect on training.

2. BUILD IN FLEXIBILITY. Leave some flexibility in the schedule to cover contingencies. For example, schedule the 3 day ECERT to be conducted on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, but leave Friday open in case the schedule slips because of problems.

3. ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN. Donít ever get underway without a plan (i.e., a detailed schedule of events) along with a back-up plan if things go wrong.

4. GET THE WORD OUT. How can you best implement the shipís schedule? Put the plan out to the entire ship. The CO can outline the plan at Captainís call. Get the other department heads involved in the process so that later on they can help sell the plan.

5. FUEL ALLOCATION AND CONSERVATION TECHNIQUES. Fuel is scarce. Lock in underway times by hooking up FLEETEX, COMPTUEX, and other fleet wide exercises. Preplanned fuel requirements should already be in the Quarterly EMPSKED inputs. For unplanned requirements (steam ships lighting off Friday in preparation for getting underway Monday), call the squadron to request fuel (they need to get authorization from the Type Commander). Fuel allocation is closely tracked by Type and Flt commanders. Minimize emergent requests.

6. TRAINING ANCHORAGE. When underway fuel is scarce, push for less costly training anchorageís. This gets you away from the pier, provides some underway time, and gains the undivided attention of the crew that is usually missing when pier side. When getting underway for a lengthy ISE, spend the first half day at anchor. Practice anchoring. Set up the accommodation ladder, boat boom, etc. operate all your deck and engineering equipment before you head out again for open water.

7. NON-MILITARY SCHEDULING lTEMS. Be sensitive to non-military scheduling items, such as high school graduation dates (May-June time frame). Try not to be underway for the CO's anniversary, it operationally feasible. Donít forget holidays!

8. GETTING UNDERWAY FROM HOMEPORT ON WEEKENDS. No! You cannot get underway from your home port on Saturday or Sunday without the Fleet Commanderís approval, who will probably say No, unless you are Naval Reserve Force.

9. UNDERWAY ON TUESDAYS. Get underway Tuesday vice Monday. It eases up on the engineers (particularly on steam ships) and doesn't screw up their weekend. If you get underway 0800 Monday, the snipes will be in all weekend for preparations.

10. KEEP THE SQUADRONS CUT IN. Operations officers should touch base with the Squadron N-3 at least once each week in port. Keep the N-3 cut in on your plans, desires, etc., so he/she can better support you. Also, take care of the QMC/OSC scheduler on the squadron staff. Stop by to see him/her (personally) every so opted. If he/she needs a volunteer ship, help out. This will pay big dividends later.

11. FAST CRUISE. The overall objectives of the fast cruise are to train the crew and determine their ability to take the ship to sea safely in a peacetime environment. In addition to the normal underway routine, to the maximum extent possible, equipment should be actuated to check for proper operation and to determine the state of training of the crew. Fast cruise shall, as far as is practicable, simulate at-sea operational conditions. It will be conducted by shipís force unhampered by construction or repair work or by the movement of shipyard personnel through the ship. No trials, tests or other work should be performed on the ship during this period. The fast cruise should end not more than three days nor less than one day before sea trials. Minimum fast cruise requirements are delineated in reference. (b) and must be included. Additional requirements based on type of combat systems on board and propulsion plant are also listed.

12. GETTING BACK IN THE SADDLE. Be sure you practice a nighttime man overboard drill. The worst possible time for a man overboard is at night. So, get the ship prepared. Avoid General Quarters the first day underway. The crew may be seasick, or trying to get back into the saddle. Wait until the next day.

13. PRE-UNDERWAY EQUIPMENT CHECK. Before getting underway (especially if you have been pier side for awhile), set aside at least one day to check test, and exercise every piece of deck equipment. Conduct active radio checks the Friday before (and throughout the weekend) when getting underway Monday. That way there are no surprises Monday morning.

14. CNO REQUIREMENTS. The CNO must approve overnight civilian female guests when the ship is underway. (Example: Tiger Cruises, or the Press/Media).

15. GET YOUR REQUESTS AND MESSAGES OUT EARLY. Services, fuel, and fleet resources are scarce. Be inventive on trying to piggy-back requirements, but more importantly ask for the items early. If you have been doing long range planning all along, this should be a snap!

16. DONíT FORGET THE RESERVES. A short underway ISE period dedicated to shipboard training is a golden opportunity to get the shipís Reserve

detachment on board. The ship will get extra hands and eager watchstanders, and the Reserves will get invaluable underway training and experience. Make sure they are part of your long range plan.

17. FLEET EXERCISES. Another golden opportunity to conduct at-sea training is the fleet exercise, conducted on both coasts. Fleet exercises are normally used for working up deploying carrier and amphibious battle groups.

1. ASSIGNMENT. Normally, fleet exercise participants are identified during the quarterly employment schedule conference, up to one year prior to the event. occasionally however, ships have been assigned to fleet exercises with less than one weeks notice.

2. PLANNING. Two months prior to the start of the fleet exercise, the OTC (group commander), who is responsible for OPAREA clearance and services requests, will solicit training inputs from the participants. As with TACT and A CAT, the ship inputs, the services available, and the fleet commanderís requirements will dictate the FLEETER/READIES schedule of events. The Pre-Sail conference is normally conducted the week prior to the exercise.