Mullinnix in Grand Harbour, Malta

Mullinnix CO Knutson and LTJG Weston on Mux Bridge
All Hands Magazine, June 1970

Making of An OOD (Mullinnix Style)
Story by JO2 Robert R. Little, USN; Photos by PH2 Rick Omelchuk, USN
All Hands Magazine - September 1970

HEN HE Was in Navy ROTC, Stephen F. Weston entertained thoughts of conning a destroyer. The idea recently became a reality when Lieutenant (jg) Weston qualified as Officer of the Deck on board USS Mullinnix (DD-944).

The accomplishment did not come easily. After he was graduated from the University of Mississippi and received his commission, it took two years of hard work and study to qualify as OOD. And LTJG Weston is justifiably proud of his new status.

As an OOD, LTJG Weston is the most important man on the ship when he has the conn, regulating all shipboard life from reveille, meals, and taps, to ship-board drills and exercises with other U.S. Navy units or ships from other nations.

A big job.

Traditionally, destroyers have been regarded as a young man’s ship and qualifying as an OOD aboard a greyhound is considered by many to be synonymous with making the grade as a true Navyman.

HERE’S LITTLE QUESTION about it: training aboard today’s sophisticated destroyer is difficult - "tougher than college (and) tougher than Officer Candidate School," believes LTJG Weston.

He began learning about the complexities of running a destroyer the day he reported on board.

"I was told," says Weston, "that no other branch of service places so much responsibility in the hands of a junior officer as the Navy does in its OODs. I believer it."

The responsibility a young naval officer carriers is indeed heavy. But, it is generally welcomed by aspiring individuals, because it gives them a chance to demonstrate their abilities at an early age.

The junior officer at sea who has qualified as an OOD has complete operational control of his ship. When he has the conn, he is responsible for the ship and for the lives of the men on board.

To reach such a status, an officer is required to complete an OOD training program. Mullinnix’s program is divided into four phases: engineering, combat information, bridge orientation, and practical examinations.

NASMUCH AS EACH destroyer has its own OOD training program. Mullinnix officers are additionally required to complete schooling in antisubmarine warfare, firefighting, damage control, emergency ship-handling, and Rules of the Nautical Road.

LTJG Weston’s training began in the engineering compartments where he studied the ship’s engineering plant and machinery operation. He studied and memorized engineering instructions and the ship’s standing department orders.

He learned the locations and functions of all main piping associated with engineering control and all main propulsion machinery and associated equipment. Then, he had to prove he knew how it all worked.

In the second phase of training, the lieutenant moved to the Combat Information Center - CIC - where all information necessary for the ship to function as a combat unit is evaluated.

To the naval officer it meant more study of instructions on Rules of the Nautical Road. It also meant he had to master voice radio communications and become familiar with signal books and the procedures to be followed when maneuvering with allied ships.

The latter presents the OOD with many challenges, and such exercises often provide additional training for the NATO forces.

HILE STANDING CIC watches, LTJG Weston had to determine the course and speed of Mullinnix during fleet maneuvers, pilot the ship into port, anchor by radar, and operate air and surface search radar equipment. He also reported on procedures to be followed during simulated training exercises.

The third phase of training was on-the-job as a junior OOD. Linked to this were many hours of brushing up on previous training, and learning minute details about weather observations and how to navigate the ship by celestial bodies.

Final OOD training consisted of a standard written examination given by the Navy, and a practical exam administered by the ship’s commanding officer.

This last hurdle include controlling the ship in restricted waters, mooring alongside piers, getting underway, anchoring the ship, conducting man overboard drills and underway replenishment, maneuvering in formation, and navigating the ship by electronic equipment and the stars.

LTJG Weston made the grade.

Now, when he is not at the helm, he is catching up on his paperwork or supervising his division, or reviewing what he has already learned, or discussing problems with other OODs.

Stars & Stripes, 9 Aug 1970
Mullinnix Finishes Tour of Black Sea

All Hands Magazine - June 1970

A familiar steamin'-mate - USS Glennon DD-840
Picture taken from Mullinnix near the Rosie Roads Piers - 1970

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

1970 Cruise Book Cover

1970 Cruise Book Picture of Mullinnix

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© 2004 by Frank Wood, All rights reserved.