SOUTH CHINA SEA-
Life on a forward-deployed Ticonderoga-class guided missile can be a unique experience compared to other Navy assignments. A hectic schedule, being in a foreign country and frequent patrols are just a few of the experiences that await Sailors ready to take on the challenge of being a part of forward-deployed naval forces (FDNF).
During this month of June 2014, five midshipmen – four from the U.S. Naval Academy and one from Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) - got a taste of what life is like as a part of FDNF when they walked on board USS Antietam (CG 54) in Yokosuka, Japan, sailed with the ship for two weeks while she was on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of operations.
“We did a lot while we were aboard,” said Midshipman First Class Samantha DaSilva, from Hellertown, Penn. “We got to [operate the helm] during an underway replenishment. We saw the 5-inch and the [close-in weapons system] shoot and I got to shoot an [M4 service rifle]. We also got to go out and do some small boat training on a rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB).”
Midshipman First Class A’Journae Webb, from Detroit, Michigan, also enjoyed the RHIB training.
“It was so much fun going fast,” said Webb. “We got a chance to do training out there with some of the ship’s crew. Everyone on board the ship was awesome. They all work so hard.”
The visit was part of the midshipmen’s summer cruise training program, which is designed to enhance their professional development.
“The purpose of these visits is to introduce midshipmen to the tasks at hand and the daily routine of life at sea,” said Ensign Oheneba Duodu, Antietam’s midshipmen training officer. “This summer cruise serves a larger purpose of enabling midshipmen to make informed career decisions about their future naval careers.”
For some of the midshipmen, life on a cruiser was different to anything they had experienced before.
“For the last cruise I did I was on a much larger ship,” said DaSilva. “This was a very different experience. It felt more tightly knit, and makes me really think I might want to try and get on a cruiser or destroyer.”
Antietam is on patrol with the George Washington Carrier Strike Group in the 7th Fleet area of operations supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.