GREAT LAKES (NNS) -- More than 280 Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) midshipmen at 70 colleges and universities around the country chose their first ships of their Navy career February 23-25.
Ship selection is one of the most significant events for midshipmen as they take their first step toward joining the U.S. Navy surface warfare officer (SWO) community in the fleet.
"This is an exciting day," said Rear Adm. Stephen C. Evans, commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), which oversees the NROTC program. "We have some of the finest talent in our nation and we have the opportunity to marry them up with some of our finest teams in our fleet. You all should be excited, because you have a great future ahead of you on some of our best platforms around the world, leading from the front as part of America's away team. Congratulations and well done to everyone and we'll see you in the fleet."
Midshipmen are ranked according to their grade point average, aptitude scores, and physical fitness assessments. The top five midshipmen made their picks via Google Hangout with Cmdr. Jonathan Schmitz, branch head for Junior Officers Detailing at Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tennessee. This is the first time NROTC has used an innovative social media platform to conduct ship selection, providing midshipmen a memorable start to their careers.
"This is very exciting, and as the admiral said, this is your first opportunity to make an impact on your fleet assignment, and that's something that carries over as a theme in surface warfare," said Schmitz. "We're the only community in the United States Navy that affords our officers this much choice based on your performance. So for the top five, I want to applaud you for your hard work up to this point. We're very happy that you're joining our team and that you're going to be part of our community; your community. There's nothing more exciting than selecting your first ship. The next step will be getting there and doing great things."
Midshipman 1st Class William Orsborn, from Embry-Riddle University in Daytona Beach, Florida, was the top-ranked NROTC midshipman and first to select a ship. He selected one of the Navy's newest ships, the Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), to be homeported in San Diego.
"It was an honor to be the first person to make a ship selection," said Orsborn, from Mt. Vernon, Washington. "I'm excited to be part of a brand new ship. It will be a good start to my career, working on a ship with new technologies. It will be a great opportunity to be part of the history of that ship and that new class of destroyer."
To Orsborn's surprise, Zumwalt's commanding officer, Capt. James A. Kirk, joined the Google Hangout to be the first to welcome his newest officer aboard.
"Hey Midshipman Osborn, this is Capt. Kirk up at Bath, Maine," he said. "We're finishing up construction of your future ship. Welcome aboard, shipmate, on behalf of the 125 Sailors here today, we look forward to seeing you here aboard our ship. Congratulations!"
Next to select was Midshipman 1st Class Baylee Smith from Oakham, Massachussetts, and a student at Spelman College, part of the Atlanta NROTC consortium. Smith selected the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John Finn (DDG 113) homeported in San Diego.
Midshipman 1st Class Abigail Kaiser, from Frederick, Maryland, and a student at Villanova University in Philadelphia, selected the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) homeported in Rota, Spain.
Officer candidate Brianna Muth from Erie, Pennsylvania, and student at North Carolina State University selected the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64), also homeported in Rota, Spain.
"As a prior-enlisted Sailor, I never had the opportunity to go to Spain, so that was part of my thought process," said Muth, who was an electronics technician third class and nuclear-qualified Sailor in the Navy's Seaman-To-Admiral program before joining in the North Carolina State NROTC unit. "I also liked the close-knit community of being on a destroyer so that was the best fit for me."
The final top-five selection was made by Midshipman 1st Class Connor Culley, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, a student at the Virginia Military Institute, who selected one of the Navy's newest San Antonio-class amphibious transport ships, USS Somerset (LPD 25), homeported San Diego.
"Those were great picks!" said Evans. "I'm glad to see that our future surface warfare officers are choosing to live the adventure that many of us have seen throughout our careers. You should be excited because you have a great future ahead of you on some of our best platforms. And to you at PERS 41 in Millington; I'm a big fan of yours and what you're doing. This has been a great morning for everyone."
The remaining NROTC midshipmen continue the ship selection process with Navy Personnel Command over the next few days. Selection results are posted live at http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/Pages/Spring-2016-ROTC-Ship-Selection.aspx
Following commissioning and graduation, from May to July, all the newly commissioned SWOs will be on their way to their first shipboard assignments as Navy ensigns.
The NROTC program, overseen by Evans and his NSTC staff is headquartered at Naval Station Great Lakes. It was established to develop midshipmen mentally, morally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, loyalty and Navy Core Values in order to commission college graduates as naval officers.
The officers will possess a basic professional background, are motivated toward careers in the naval service and have a potential for future development in mind and character so as to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.
NSTC oversees 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy, as well as the Navy's Citizenship Development program. NSTC includes Recruit Training Command (RTC), NROTC units at more than 160 colleges and universities, Officer Training Command (OTC) at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island, and Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.
For more information about NROTC, visit https://www.nrotc.navy.mil
For more news from Naval Service Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/greatlakes