USS FORT MCHENRY, at sea -- A group of 55 midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy and various NROTC programs got underway with the USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), May 30, as part of a summer training program.
While some members of the group were participating in Atlantic Training for Midshipmen (LANTRAMID), others embarked in support of the Professional Training of Midshipmen (PROTRAMID) program, which all midshipmen go through, with the primary goal being to get a taste of various naval communities prior to selecting their designator. The midshipmen spend a week with surface, aviation, submarine and Marine units.
Every midshipman was assigned a “running mate,” for the duration of their stay aboard. Third class midshipmen were partnered with Sailors; 1st class midshipmen spent time with a junior officer. The midshipmen were expected to do everything their running mate did, whether it was stand watch, sweep passageways or route paperwork.
“It gives you a perspective from the Sailors about what leadership styles they respond to best,” said Naval Academy Midshipman 3rd Class Evan Nicholl. “It really helps you figure out what kind of leader you want to be and what kind of leader you don’t want to be.”
While underway, midshipmen got a chance to observe a Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) Pacfire, shoot .50 caliber machine guns, take a ride in a Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) and observe a towing exercise with USS San Antonio (LPD 17).
“I think they were definitely exposed to more than what a midshipman has the opportunity to see during typical cruise,” explained the ship’s Training Officer, Lt. j.g. Toshi Williams. “They got more in those 3 - 4 days than many of the midshipmen get in 3 - 4 weeks. There was never a dull moment.”
In addition, the midshipmen participated in “Damage Control Olympics,” where they learned how to put on firefighting equipment, repair pipes and use a CO2 extinguisher. The event gave the students a chance to not only learn about the gear, but also understand proper damage control actions which they may need in the future as naval officers.
“My favorite part was the Damage Control Olympics,” said Nicholl. “It was really eye opening – that job is not easy.”
The few days of underway time gave theses aspiring naval officers a chance to better understand the Surface Warfare Community and see some of the activities they regularly engage in at sea.
“I really like the community – it’s very diverse and there are a lot of opportunities,” said U.S. Naval Academy Midshipman 3rd Class Andrea Thorne-Thomsen, an aspiring Surface Warfare Officer. “In Surface Warfare, it seems that you get a lot more chances to be a leader.”