Well it seems as if the U.S. Navy has rediscovered something that most hams, especially older ones, have know for a long time ... CW is pretty darn handy!
After many years of abandonment by the various branches of the armed forces, the Navy has taken another look at the usefulness of knowing how to use CW and has been training a limited number of their Cryptologic Technicians (CTR's) each year, at the Center for Information Dominance (CID) based at Corry Station in Pensacola, Florida,
I've always absolutely loved CW, ever since first learning it at around twelve years of age, eventually using my new-found skill to help me get a ticket when I turned fifteen. A big stumbling-block for many, the requirement to send and receive CW was eventually eliminated with the introduction of the no-code licence and had many hams believing it would be the end of ham radio.
As the Coast Guard and maritimers around the world abandoned CW, somehow, it has managed to not only survive, but to seemingly flourish on the ham bands. Granted, operating habits and patterns may be changing and fewer stations are to be found, randomly CQ-ing, seeking a nice CW ragchew, but a short listen during any contest weekend or during a rare DX-pedition pileup will quickly reveal that the art of CW itself is still alive and well in 2016!
One of the reasons for CW's longevity, aside from the fact that it's just plain fun, is it's ability to be understood under the worst of conditions, unlike many other modes ... and it can be used with the simplest of equipment, without needing a computer.
"In the updated course, sailors learn how to operate radio-receiving and associated computer-based equipment. From basic safeguards of security to communication procedures and systems theory to operation of communications equipment, the course teaches how to intercept Morse communications, as well as copy and send Morse code."
"Morse code continues to be an inexpensive and efficient means of communication for many states throughout the globe,” said Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collection) (IDW/NAC/SW/AW) Tony Gonzales, CTR rate training manager for CID headquarters. “Manual Morse operators here at Corry Station are learning a skill set that has stood the test of time. Many of our most senior CTRs began their careers as Manual Morse operators.”
Somehow, it's very gratifying to see that the Navy is still keen on training sailors in the art ... affirming what hams have known since the earliest days of radio.
It's not clear if these folks are learning to actually send with a hand key or keyer but I rather suspect that their sending skills may be limited to how fast they can type as I don't see any keys in the training-center's photos ... but it's a start.
Maybe we'll hear a few of them on CW sometime in the future.