For a pilot, commanding a ship is not that uncommon. But commanding an escort is not usual. As a matter of fact, I'm the first Harrier pilot to command a frigate. In the Armada, we do not have SWOs as such. Obviously we do have "surface officers", meaning that they dedicate most of their time as LT on board escorts (most of them are TAOs).
For a pilot to command an escort when CDR, you need to comply with the standard reqs for any officer (most important thing having commanded a ship as LTCDR) and having served as XO on a two years tour on a frigate (this one not a requirement for "surface officers") I know it my sound odd for the USN, but that's the way it works around Old Spain. And I think we pilots can provide to the escort command a different insight that is beneficial to our navy.There is a lot of win to consider there.
Along with underway uniforms - there is a lot the USN can learn from its smaller, more nimble friends out there. I've always liked how the British Royal Navy worked their officer career paths as well. To do anything like this would require a root-n-branch restructuring; but doesn't mean we shouldn't ponder some.
Step one, of course ... could we please have more LT and LCDR commands?