An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

My Coast Guard
Commentary | Sept. 29, 2020

Heading to a command position? Pass the DWO

By MyCG Staff

As you prepare for a new role in an afloat command cadre position, remember you need to pass the Deck Watch Officer Exam (DWO) within a year of reporting to your new position. 

All members aboard a cutter filling the role of commanding officer or officer in charge, the executive officer or executive petty officer, the operations officer or a designated operations petty officer, will be required to pass the DWO exam within one year of your report date. 

Before you report, you may take the DWO multiple times, though a failed test will require a 21 wait period between tests. You should prioritize passing the DWO exam before you attend the required applicable school: prospective CO/XO/OIC/XPO Afloat, prospective operations officer course or cutter OPS BRM. 

If you pass the test, be sure to check Direct Access for an updated status of the DWO exam. You will need to provide proof of a passing DWO exam on the first day of follow on “C” school. 

Passing the DWO exam prior to attending these courses demonstrates a working knowledge of the Navigation Rules, and provides an expanded opportunity to explore the Rules' practical application in seminar and simulator use during the course. If you have not passed the DWO exam, you will need to inform the Command and Operations School to coordinate an opportunity to schedule and proctor the DWO exam.

You will also want to be sure that you are very familiar with International and Inland Navigation Rules.

If you would like to submit a waiver from attending an applicable course, you will need to provide proof to COMDT (CG-751) that you have met the above requirements. Your waiver will be denied if you do not provide to the required proof.

Currently, COMDT (CG-NAV) and COMDT (CG-751) are collecting DWO Exam questions. Send DWO Exam question challenges and other DWO exam issues to

Command and Operations School can coordinate the scheduling and proctoring of the applicable DWO exam with Cmdr. Chris Pasciuto at 860-701-6675 or Master Chief Matthew Avery at 860-701-6476.


  • ALCOAST 341/20
  • Performance, Training and Education Manual, COMDTINST M1500.10 
  • Coast Guard Deck Watch Officer Examination Program, COMDTINST 16672.5 (series) 
  • Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972 (72COLREGS) and the Inland Navigation Rules (33 C.F.R. Parts 83 - 88)