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Sailors in various engineering ratings get ready for the shipboard firefighting trainer at Surface Warfare Engineering School Command Great Lakes.

Every Surface Navy Engineer, Quartermaster, Boatswain and deck seaman comes through Surface Warfare Engineering School Command Great Lakes (SWESC GL) for technical training led by the Navy’s finest instructors. These Sailors leave SWESC GL as Surface Warriors, ready to perform on ships operating around the globe. SWESC GL averages nearly 1,500 students on deck at any one time. The staff at SWESC GL is comprised of 10 officers and over 350 enlisted personnel, 40 Department of the Navy civilians including Quartermasters, Boatswain Mates and Sailors from all surface engineering rates, ranging in pay grades from E-5 to E-9. All assigned instructors have completed successful tours at sea and have earned the 805A NEC by completing the Navy’s Instructor Training Course. Instructors qualify and are cross-utilized between 15 different schoolhouses and each instructor accrues between 21-40 instructional hours weekly.

Engineers begin their careers with Engineering Professional Apprenticeship Career Track (E-PACT), a 34-day course designed to teach all engineering rates the basic skills necessary to assimilate rapidly into a shipboard engineering environment upon arrival to their first ship. While a small percentage of these students will transfer to the fleet as undesignated Firemen, most will continue to a more specific rate-based training in one of eight engineering “A” schools. Rating “A” schools range in length from 9 to 41 days of training. On average, a rated Sailor attending the Engineering accession pipeline will receive approximately 40% classroom-based training and 60% hands on, where the knowledge gained in the classroom is applied.

Future Quartermasters (QM) begin their careers attending the QM “A” School where they learn navigation fundamentals to include plotting on charts, celestial navigation, an introduction to Voyage Management System, and other skills needed to stand pay grade appropriate underway watches with minimal supervision. Graduates will require modest training prior to performing fully unsupervised basic watch station duties.

Surface Professional Apprenticeship Career Track (S-PACT) and Boatswain’s Mate “A” school offers junior Sailors the opportunity to receive hands-on training about basic seamanship skills prior to reporting to their first command. Each Sailor learns these skills by participating in classroom training and labs utilizing the USS Whitehat, an on-site ship simulator. The students are able to learn everything from basic line handling skills to underway replenishment operations. SWESC GL was excited to welcome them to the team in April 2021.

For returning fleet Sailors, SWESC GL offers a total of 51 “C” schools and non-accession courses that result in awarding 29 total NECs, with 8 new NECs in the works. SWESC GL is the only NETC learning site to offer courses for non-destructive testing and cargo/weapons elevator operation and maintenance.

SWESC GL also provides Level I equivalent firefighting training to upwards of 10,800 surface accessions Sailors annually, to include Surface Combat Systems Training Command Great Lakes, as well as staff members at the various commands across Great Lakes as they transfer back to sea duty. The General Shipboard Firefighting Training Course is designed to provide instruction and evaluation to enlisted personnel in firefighting equipment and procedures. This course will prepare students to qualify as members of a shipboard damage control organization/team. This course satisfies the Level I five-year live firefighting requirement of Shipboard Survivability Training Level Requirements and is the equivalent of the General Shipboard Fire Fighting training. This course includes proper techniques and procedures for combating various classes of fires. Instruction includes personnel protective equipment, chemistry of fire, portable fire extinguishers, and the Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus.


To provide a continuum of professional education and training in support of surface Navy requirements that prepare enlisted Sailors to serve at sea, providing apprentice and specialized skills training to 7,500 Sailors a year.
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Surface Warfare Engineering School Command
2331 Isherwood AVE
BLDG 236
Great Lakes IL 60088-2924


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Fire Trainer Broll

  • Surface Warfare Engineering School Command Great Lakes
  • April 19, 2023 | 5:31

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (April 19, 2023) Surface Warfare Engineering Schools Command staff train accession level Sailors in shipboard firefighting techniques. (U.S. Navy video by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cory Asato)

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