Carnegie Mellon University
Surface Warfare

Surface Warfare

Surface Warfare is the community within the Navy that involves the use of the surface fleet's ships for the missions of forward naval presence, sea control, and projection of power ashore.  The primary missions of the surface Navy include:

  • Strike warfare (power projection): An important mission of surface warfare is to support and protect the carrier group--the main tactical striking force of the Navy.
  • Anti-air warfare (AAW): Ship-to-air missions are vital to the surface Navy since control of the air is required for successful operations.
  • Anti-surface warfare (ASuW): In addition to engaging enemy surface ships, ASuW includes interdiction operations and anti-drug operations.
  • Anti-submarine warfare (ASW): The U.S. Navy's surface fleet is most vulnerable to the threat from submarines, therefore, ASW is critical to the surface Navy's success and defense
  • Amphibious warfare: Another role of the surface Navy is to transport, deploying, and support Marines.

From Norfolk, Virginia, to Yokosuka, Japan, the Navy has many homeports for its surface fleet.  There are currently six active fleets whose areas of operations span the globe.  Each fleet consists of a balanced mix of ships that each contributes to the success of the Navy as a whole:

  • Cruisers (CG)
  • Destroyers (DDG)
  • Frigates (FFG)
  • Aircraft Carriers (CVN)
  • Amphibious Ships (LHA/LHD/LPD)
  • Minesweepers (MCM/MHC/MCS)
  • Patrol Craft (PC)
  • Auxiliary Ships (AE/AO/AOE/AS/ARS)
  • Littoral Combat Ships (LCS)

With the many choices of where to be stationed and what ship to serve on, the surface Navy provides sailors with the environment to develop necessary job and leadership skills and opportunities see the world.

The initial sea tour will last about 24 months, including time at sea and at port.  During this time, the junior officer (JO) will be a division officer for a single division.  The most important goal for a JO during this tour is to complete Personnel Qualification Standards (PQSs) and attain the SWO warfare designation pin. 

Learn more about becoming a Surface Warfare Officer