National Security

“Top Gun” for Navy Surface Ships?

“Top Gun” for Navy Surface Ships?

   Words by Wes O'Donnell

It’s appears that the rumors are true that the once air based training school will now branch out to include sea vessels also.  With the increase in use of more futuristic weapons, the military wants highly trained individuals who can use these assets to their best advantage in the task of protecting America.  The military is also making it a priority to stay on top of the possibility of China becoming a possible threat to the United States dominant presence in the Pacific.


The idea for creating this type of school originally came from the commander of Naval surface forces, Vice Admiral Tom Copeman and was approved just last month by the chief of naval operations.  Proximately 25% of all Navy ship officers will attend this training program sometime during their term in service.  Copeman’s goal is to create a group of soldier expertly trained in advanced weapons strategies that can be used in combat, as well as have knowledge of all aircraft and their capabilities used on these ships.   Awareness of exactly what the ships are capable of when put into battle needs to be emphasized.  Current use of naval vessels, mainly firing missiles to assist in softening land targets, has not always demonstrated their full potential. 

In the past, this type of training was reserved for those with a more tactical mind.  This program wants to shift the focus and put more emphasis on advanced weapons and tactical knowledge for all members serving on these ships. 

The idea for this type of training school has been around for the past decade.  The increasing threat to the United States naval superiority has prompted this plan to be put into action.  With the advancement of weaponry and availability of those weapons as well as the increase threat from the Chinese, now seems to be an opportune time to increase America’s defense.


The new ship version of Top Gun will be located in San Diego, California and consists of a 120 person command of individuals who are tactically focused and equipped with the most up to date techniques to develop a superior curriculum.  The instructors, referred to as weapons tactics instructors, will be lieutenants and lieutenant commanders who have previously undergone program themselves and completed several high-level sea tours in which they were the leaders of a ship department.

Currently there are two functioning classrooms.  The first is at Point Loma Naval Base and is a five week course focused on anti-submarine weapons tactics.  This particular program has already graduated four classes of 15 people each.  The other is in Dahlgren, Virginia and is focused on integrated air and missile defense.  This course runs 20 weeks long and has already graduated one class so far.   The possibility is there that these courses and others yet to be developed will be consolidated and all held at the San Diego location in the future. 

This new school program will play a large role in the evaluation and possible integration of new weapons being introduced into the military.  For instance, the first naval “laser” weapon with a primary focus on taking out threats such as aerial drones and swarms of small boats attempting to overtake U.S. warships and the rail gun which has an intended future use and can fire projectiles at six or seven times the speed of sound are some of the weapons that would be taught through this school program.

The schools' primary focus will be on the best ways to integrate these new weapons into the current military.  It is the hope that this school will give the naval ships the same edge it has provided for military aircraft in the past.

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