July 2, 2014, SOUTH CHINA SEA (NNS) – Becoming a commissioned officer in the United States Navy requires intelligence, determination, and the ability to lead. A midshipman is someone in the process of becoming and officer by completing four years at the United States Naval Academy or a reserve officer training core (ROTC) program at a designated university.
Five midshipmen embarked the Arleigh-Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) for two weeks during the beginning of her patrol with the George Washington Carrier Strike Group to experience life at sea and get a glimpse of their future as a naval officer.
Of the midshipmen, two are from the naval academy, located in Annapolis, Maryland. The others are enrolled in universities across the nation.
Upon embarking the forward-deployed warship, the midshipmen were assigned running mates; mentors and guides for their time aboard. First class midshipmen are paired with officers, where as the second class midshipmen are paired with enlisted personnel.
The midshipmen spent their days aboard the ship shadowing their mentor, standing watches with them, learning about the daily procedures of each department, and occasionally playing a part in full-scale exercises.
Midshipmen 1st class Adriana Ayala, from Inglewood, California, kept ranges and baring for the John S. McCain during surface ship anti-submarine warfare readiness and effectiveness measure (SHAREM), a bi-lateral exercise with the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) that involved multiple warships from both countries steaming in close proximity.
“My job during the exercise was to make sure we had eyes on all contacts so we could avoid them,” said Ayala. “It was stressful, but also very exciting. I feel participating in an actual Navy operation provides hands on training that cannot be replaced. It was a great experience and I’m looking forward to this being my career.”
Not only does the midshipmen’s time aboard help them understand the responsibilities of an officer and acclimate to life aboard a U.S. Navy ship, but it also improves moral amongst the crew by interjecting a spirit of curiosity and thirst for knowledge into an otherwise routine day.
“The midshipmen are very enthusiastic about learning,” said Lt. j.g. Thomas May, from Las Vegas, Nevada. “It’s fulfilling to teach someone something when they’re eager to learn. I feel as though I’m lending a helping hand in these Sailors pursuit of becoming a commissioned officer in the United States Navy, and that is a great feeling.”
For these midshipmen, this isn’t just an underway, but an in-depth look at what they hope to achieve for themselves in the coming years.
John S. McCain is underway with the GWCSG in the 7th Fleet area of operations supporting security and stability in the indo-Asia-Pacific Region.