Nontechnical skills taxonomy for Officers of the Deck


The Officer of the Deck (OOD) of a U.S. Navy ship is in charge of the safe and proper operation of the ship, and accountable to the Commanding Officer for every event that occurs during his or her OOD watch. An initial set of 17 categories of nontechnical skills were identified from a literature review. A focus group with four qualified OODs used the skills identified from the literature review to develop an initial taxonomy of five categories, each with two or three corresponding behavioral elements. This taxonomy was then used to classify 149 statements concerned with the nontechnical skills of OODs collected from 16 critical incident interviews. After three iterations of adaptations to the taxonomy, two independent raters were able to reach acceptable levels of reliability in using the taxonomy to classify the statements. Although further development work is required, it is suggested that the prototype behavioral marker system has implications for improving safety and performance on military and civilian ships.


Acceptable levels of inter-rater reliability were obtained

Author of Tool:

Long, O’Connor

Key references:

Long., W.M., O’Connor, P., & McCauley M. (2010). Nontechnical skills for Officers of the Deck (NTSOD) rating form: A user’s guide. Monterey, CA: Naval Postgraduate School.

O’Connor, P. & Long, W.M. (2011). The development of a prototype behavioural marker system for U.S. Navy Officers of the Deck. Safety Science,49, 1381-1387.

Primary use / Purpose:

A behavioural marker system for evaluating the nontechnical skills of Officers of the Deck.









Category Category Rating* Element Element Rating* Notes
Leadership   Managing Watch Team    
Coping with Stress    
Communications   Providing Information    
Issuing Orders    

Situational Awareness

  Gathering Awareness    
Understanding Awareness    
Anticipating Future Events    

Decision Making

  Analytical Decision Making    
Following Orders & Procedures    
Intuitive Decision Making    


* 1 – Unsatisfactory; 2 – Marginal; 3 – Satisfactory; 4 – Outstanding; N/O – Not Observed

1 – Unsatisfactory: Watchstander could endanger ship and crew without considerable improvement. 2 – Marginal: Watchstander requires improvement.

3 – Satisfactory: Watchstander performed at an acceptable level, but room for improvement exists. 4 – Outstanding: Watchstander performed at a consistently high level.