The Navy Wants You

by Robert Rinas

This TOP SECRET/S.I. article introduces players to the world of military intelligence, using the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) as the agency that employs their characters. Most characters in such campaigns will be officers and enlisted men in the United States Navy, the most powerful naval force in the world. Civilians in the group would most likely be in the Professional or Academic career groups, working with the ONI as civilian employees of the Department of Defense (DOD). Civilians function as academic advisors or instructors, fonts of knowledge who allow intelligence to be better gathered and analyzed.

Navy Character Creation

For officers and men of the United States Navy, the Military career in the TOP SECRET/S.I. Player’s Guide (page 29) is not adequate, as the Navy is more technically oriented than the Army or the Marine Corps (the Military career suits the latter two well). As such, most Navy character skill points should not be allocated toward combat skills.

There are three ways a person can enter the Navy: enlist; attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.; or join the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). The latter two, when completed, each confer a commission in the Navy.

First, it must be determined whether or not a person can make it into the Navy at all. Table 1 shows the minimum requirements for officers and enlisted men to join up. If the character does not meet the requirements of any option of entry into the Navy, the only other option is if he has a high INT, in which case he can become a Professional or an Academic—a civilian with security clearance to be a member of the adventuring group.

If a character meets the requirements for the Academy, he can make a 1/2 INT roll. If successful, he is accepted at Annapolis. If not, he can join the Navy as an enlisted man and try later (if he still meets the officer requirements) to go to the Officer Training School at Annapolis. For every three years that an enlisted character has been in the Navy, he gets one 1/8 INT roll, gaining a commission if successful. Someone who becomes an officer by this method is given a rank of ensign (or, in special circumstances, lieutenant, j.g.).

When an enlisted character becomes an officer, his career is literally starting over. After a long time with no success at INT rolls, most sailors give up, for they do not want to be the oldest lieutenants in the Navy! (Note: if a person has no desire to become an officer, he need not apply to Officer Training School.) If he becomes an officer, he receives all of the special skills of the officer specialty of his choice, which are almost always related to his specialty when he was an enlisted man. Thus, a quartermaster or a helmsman would most likely become a navigator, and an engineering crewman would most likely become an engineering officer.

If a character enters the Navy through ROTC, then he must use either the Professional or Academic career (with the exception of airline pilots). The minimum skill requirements for this must be met; remaining skill points will most likely be used for skills learned in the Navy. There are two options open to Administrators regarding meeting minimum skill-point expenditure requirements for characters:

1. If the character does not have enough skill points to fulfill his minimum requirements, he must choose another specialty that he can complete. (SEALs are an exception to this because of the number of skills they must take, and it is recommended that they always use option 2. If you are playing an exclusively Commando-oriented game, follow the rules in the Commando supplement.)

2. If the character does not have enough skill points to fulfill his minimum requirements, then give him enough points to meet the bare minimum.

Each Navy character must choose a specialty and, based on that specialty, must take certain skills at zero level at least. The character will also be given certain skills free. See Tables 2, 3, and 4 for details.

Table 5 shows the percentage chance a person has to attain a particular rank. This is found by cross-referencing the rank with the character’s years of service. Read from right to left, trying to get the highest possible rank first; then, if failing to get that rank, moving left. For example, a character who is an officer and has been in the Navy for seven years first tries to become 0-4 (45%); failing that, he tries for 0-3 (85%), and will be 0-2 (100%) automatically if the second roll fails. Table 6 explains the rank structure of the U.S. Navy.

Naval Skills

New skills offered in this article are described in the following section. Skillpoint costs (as per the Player’s Guide) immediately follow each skill name.

Ship Helm Operations (2/2/4): This skill involves the steering of a large ship. This does not mean that one character can run an entire ship; it just means that he can fill his station in the operation of the ship. This skill deals with deck operations, like ship handling, as opposed to engineering and weapons systems. Usually, an officer with this skill supervises and teaches enlisted personnel in ship handling. A person with this skill can become, in civilian life, a deck officer on a tanker or freighter or a harbor pilot, among other jobs.

Submarine Helm Operations (4/2/4): This skill is similar to Ship Helm Operations, but several factors are added. For example, sub operations involve going up and down as well as along a flat plane. Also, submarines usually have a single screw or propeller only, making maneuvering difficult. This is why subs rely on tugs so much in harbors. For these reasons, Submarine Helm Operations is a difficult skill to learn.

Torpedo (3/2/3): This is similar to the Missile skill herein, but it involves sea-launched or air-launched torpedoes whose targets are either surface vessels or submarines.

Missile/SLBM (4/2/5): The Missile/SLBM skill deals with the submarine part of the American “nuclear triad.” It allows characters to be missile officers or missile technicians on an SSBN (ballistic missile submarine, or “boomer”). The use of nuclear weapons in any game scenario is strongly discouraged! This skill is useful more as a guide for the disarmament of such weapons and as a background skill. (For more on nuclear weapons—for the 1st Edition TOP SECRET game—see the articles “Agents and A-bombs” and “After the Blast” in DRAGON issue 108).

SEALs and UDTs

In 1983, the UDTs (Underwater Demolitions Teams) ceased to exist as separate units and became SEAL Teams Four and Five. Therefore, the main options for Special Warfare specialists and officers are SEALs and SBUs (Special Boat Units).

Skill Points

The number of skill points for U.S. Navy characters is optionally determined by the method given in TSAC5 Commando-that is, divide a character’s intelligence by 5 (rounding down) and add 21 to the result. Another option is to award an extra five points to Navy characters because more of their time is spent in training than their civilian counterparts.

Military Intelligence

Military intelligence is similar in many ways to civilian intelligence. However, while civilian intelligence tends to deal with political information (i.e., political stability, factions, leadership, economic/political influence), military intelligence deals with military readiness, capabilities, technological developments, and relationships between the military and the political structure. The respective jurisdictions of these two intelligence groupings do sometimes overlap.

However, military intelligence relies less upon human sources than the civilian version. This was due to a policy in the 1960s, 70s, and ’80s that stressed electronic intelligence (ELINT) as opposed to human intelligence (HUMINT). However, this is changing, and the number of HUMINT specialists is growing in all of the armed services.

Another difference between the military and civilian services is that the military has different assets at its disposal. While the CIA has embassy intelligence staff, legal and illegal agents, etc., the military has defense attaches, reconnaissance ships, aircraft and satellites, special forces (e.g., SEALs, Green Berets, etc.), and a very high degree of technology and funding. Agents have a greater chance than usual of being able to use military equipment (that isn’t already in use by military intelligence) for special missions. More special intelligence missions exist for the military, such as beach reconnaissance by SEALs to scout a possible attack site, or missions to find out about a new type of attack submarine being built in the USSR’s Nikolayev Shipyards on the Black Sea.

The Office of Naval Intelligence

The Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) is composed of an administrative unit at the top (the ONI proper) and three commands: the Naval Security Group Command (NSGC), the Naval intelligence Command (NIC), and the Naval Investigative Service Command (NISC).

The ONI is commanded by the Director of Naval Intelligence (DNI), who usually holds the rank of Rear Admiral, Lower Half (0-7). Directly beneath him are the Deputy Directors for Naval intelligence (DDNIs), each of whom is in charge of a separate command. A DDNI normally holds the rank of Captain (0-6).

The DDNI for Cryptology directs the NSGC, headquartered at 3801 Nebraska Ave. NW Washington, D.C. 20016. It is composed of five branches: Telecommunications and Automated Data Systems, Logistics and Material, Special Operations, Electronic Warfare and Signals Security, and Technical Development. As can be seen from these titles, the NSGC’s area of responsibility is signals intelligence and security. Signals intelligence (SIGINT) involves cryptology (i.e., encoding/decoding) as well as wiretapping and signals interception. Signals security (COMSEC) also involves cryptology and ways of making communications more secure.

The DDNI for Intelligence commands the NIC. It is headquartered at 4600 Silver Hill Road, Suitland MD 20746. This is the largest section of the ONI and is split into four subordinate organizations: Task Force 168 (TF168), the Naval intelligence Processing System Support Activity (NIPSSA), the Naval Intelligence Support Center (NISC), and the Navy Operational intelligence Center (NOIC). The basic task of the NIC is to gather information. TF168 collects information primarily from emigres and defectors, NISC obtains information on primarily technical matters, and NOIC collects operational intelligence (e.g., Soviet naval movements, etc.)

The DDNI for Investigation heads the NISC that provides counterintelligence services within the U.S. Navy, and also investigates crimes possibly committed by US Navy personnel. The NIS is not covered in detail here because the main focus of this article is on intelligence gathering and, to a lesser degree, special operations. However, counterintelligence activities can be both exciting and frustrating, and it may be worth the effort to do some research into the activities and organization of the NIS for your own campaign.

Adventure Ideas

Just as with any large, multifaceted intelligence agency, there are countless things that can be done with the ONI. Three possibilities follow:

1. The characters could be assigned to penetrate and infiltrate the USSR’s Nikolaev Shipyards and gather information on a new class of conventional aircraft carrier that is about to start sea trials. Snapping photos, finding out internal technical details, and even inspecting the ship or its plans would be mission objectives. Naturally, this won’t be easy! Part of the team must have technical skills (e.g., marine engineers) for interpretation of the information, and naval aviators could get information on the aircraft carried (e.g., details on the naval-version MiG-29). Speaking Russian is a must. This mission would fall under the jurisdiction of the NISC.

It would help to check out some information about new Soviet carriers in real life before running this adventure. Good publications to check include Jane’s Soviet Intelligence Review, Jane’s Defense Weekly, and other defense-related magazines.

2. The cloud cover over Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam has been hanging for a long time, and the meteorologists say it won’t be going away for a long time. A team of characters must go in for routine surveillance to monitor Soviet naval traffic. Of course, the Administrator will make sure that it is not a routine mission. Is something unusual going on? This mission would fall under the jurisdiction of the NOIC.

3. One of the main drawbacks to a large organization like the Central Intelligence Agency or the Office of Naval Intelligence is that each character is only a small part of the group and thus has very specialized duties. However, it would be possible to make a semi-independent unit under the ONI that is designed to operate in a specific area. One example is the fictional Task Force 117, which provides muscle for drug-interdiction operations abroad by using naval intelligence and special operations assets to assist DEA agents. Agents in this group would get special diplomatic papers to allow greater freedom of action, and team leaders around the world would get priority status when asking for diplomatic papers for DEA agents and others.

A big bonus to semi-independent groups is that, because the teams are small, the characters’ roles are not too specialized and mundane. Characters shouldn’t be given access to heavy military armaments (like F-14s and warships), although they would have the authority to employ E-2 and C-2 reconnaissance-aircraft missions, since that is clearly within the framework of their duties.

A Final Note: Characters don’t have to work for the NISC or NOIC all the time. They can perform missions for other branches of the ONI, assuming that they were seconded or transferred. Moving around like this provides greater variety in the characters’ missions.


Hopple, Gerald W, and Bruce W. Watson, ed. The Military Intelligence Community. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1986.
Knott, Capt. Richard C., ed. The Naval Aviation Guide. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1985.
Prados, John. President’s Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations Since World War II. New York: J. Morrow, 1986.
Richelson, Jeffrey. The U.S. Intelligence Community. Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger Pub. Co., 1989.
Thomas, Stafford T. The U.S. Intelligence Community. Lanham, Md.: UP of America, 1983.

For further information on naval and defense matters, several periodicals and reference books can help you. Among them are the Jane’s series (Jane’s Fighting Ships and Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft, among others) and such periodicals as Jane’s Defense Weekly and International Defense Review. In the field of defense-related reference books, Jane’s has a corner on the market. These volumes are extremely expensive, but any large library should have an up-to-date copy of whatever you need.

Table 1—Minimum Requirements for Naval Enlistment


Table 2—Naval Enlisted Skills

Free SkillsBasic Firearms, Basic Melee, Basic Tool Use, Swimming (1)
Specialty Skills
Aviation CrewBasic Mechanic, Aircraft Mechanic, Computer Technician, Electronics
Diver – RepairBasic Mechanic, SCUBA Diving
Diver – ResearchBasic Mechanic, EMERSON, Spear Gun, SCUBA Diving
Electronics TechnicianElectronics
Engineering Crew – Non-NuclearBasic Mechanic
Engineering Crew – NuclearElectronics, Nuclear Technician
Gunnery Crew – GunsBasic Heavy Weapons, Artillery
Gunnery Crew – MissileBasic Heavy Weapons, Missile
Helmsman – SubmarineSubmarine Helm Operations
Helmsman – Surface ShipShip Helm Operations
Helmsman – Small CraftDriving/Boat
IntelligenceCartography, Photo-Analysis
MachinistBasic Mechanic
Military PoliceClub/Blackjack, Driving/Auto, Driving/Off-road, Pistol, Rifle
Missile TechnicianBasic Heavy Weapons, Electronics, Missile/SLBM, Nuclear Technician
QuartermasterCartography, Navigation
Radio OperatorCryptography, Radio Operator
Special Warfare – SEALssee TSAC5 Commando supplement
Special Warfare – Special Boat UnitsBasic Heavy Weapons, Basic Mechanic, Driving/Boat, Machine Gun

Table 3—Naval Officer Skills

Free SkillsBasic Firearms, Basic Melee, Basic Science, Navigation, Swimming (2)
Specialty Skills
Air Warfare (1) – StrikeInstrument Flying, Pilot/Jet, Pilot/1-Engine, Missile
Air Warfare (1) – MaritimeInstrument Flying, Pilot/Multi-engine, Pilot/1-Engine
Air Warfare (1) – Helo (2)Instrument Flying, Pilot/Helicopter, Pilot/1-Engine
Air Warfare (1) – E-2/C-2Instrument Flying, Pilot/Multi-engine, Pilot/1-Engine
Air Warfare (1) – NFONavigation, Pilot/1-Engine, Radar
Intelligence (3) – Non-SIGINTCartography, Interrogation, Photo analysis
Intelligence (3) – SIGINTCryptography, Engineering-Electrical, Radio Operator
Military PoliceClub/Ax/Blackjack, Driving/Auto, Driving/Off-road, Interrogation, Pistol, Rifle
Special Warfare – SEALssee TSAC 5 Commando supplement
Special Warfare – Special Boat UnitsBasic Heavy Weapons, Basic Mechanic, Driving/Boat (1), Machine Gun
Sub-Surface Warfare – Nuclear EngineerEngineering (Nuclear)
Sub-Surface Warfare – NavigationSubmarine Helm Operations, Navigation (1)
Sub-Surface Warfare – WeaponsBasic Heavy Weapons, Missile, Torpedo
Sub-Surface Warfare – Missile (SSBN)Basic Heavy Weapons, Electronics, Missile/SLBM, Nuclear Technician
Surface Warfare – Marine EngineerEngineering (Marine – Surface Ships)
Surface Warfare – Nuclear EngineerEngineering (Nuclear)
Surface Warfare – NavigationShip Helm Operations, Navigation (1)
Surface Warfare – WeaponsBasic Heavy Weapons, Artillery, Missile, Radar

1. Navy characters opting for the Air Warfare specialty must specialize in one particular type of aircraft (e.g., the F-14 Tomcat) in addition to specifying a general type of aircraft.
2. “Helo” is a term denoting helicopters.
3. Only female officers graduating from the Navy’s ROTC program can start out in Intelligence. The Navy wants men to at least start out as line officers (i.e., surface, subsurface, air, and special warfare). This restriction does not apply to Annapolis graduates or to enlisted personnel.

Table 4—Aircraft Categories and Types

StrikeA-6 Intruder, A-7 Corsair, F/A-18 Hornet, F-4 Phantom II, F-14 Tomcat, S-3 Viking
MaritimeC-130 Hercules, P-3 Orion
HeloH-1 Iroquois, H-2 Seasprite, H-3 Seaking, H-46 Sea Knight, H-53 Sea Stallion, SH-60 Seahawk
E-2/C-2E-2 Hawkeye, C-2 Greyhound

Information about these aircraft should be available at any library carrying books on aviation.

Table 5—Officer and Enlisted Rank Acquisition

Years of ServiceO-1

This chart is loosely based on information contained in The Naval Aviation Guide, by Capt. Richard C. Knott, USN.

Table 6—Naval Ranks

O-1EnsignE-1Seaman Recruit
O-2Lieutenant, Junior GradeE-2Seaman Apprentice
O-4Lieutenant CommanderE-4Petty Officer 3rd Class
O-5CommanderE-5Petty Officer 2nd Class
O-6CaptainE-6Petty Officer 1st Class
O-7Rear AdmiralE-7Chief Petty Officer
O-8Rear AdmiralE-8Senior Chief Petty Officer
O-9Vice AdmiralE-9Master Chief Petty Officer

Leave a Reply