When you think of summer, what comes to mind? Usually it is sunshine, beaches, fun, and relaxation. However, in the Navy, college student officer candidates known as Midshipmen get an opportunity to interact with the servicemen and women of the Surface Warfare community and experience time at sea. Hundreds of Naval Academy and Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Midshipmen traveling from all over the United States embarked on several Amphibious Squadron Three (CPR3) ships throughout the summer for invaluable training experience.
Upon arriving onboard USS PELELIU (LHA 5), USS BONHOMME RICHARD (LHD 6) and USS RUSHMORE (LSD 47), Midshipmen experienced a rigorous schedule of events and participated in a myriad of activities to these include gun shoots, damage control training, ship handling, steel beach picnics, and small boat training. The Midshipmen also observed Flight Quarters, Amphibious Operations, at sea replenishment and underway watch standing. A key aspect of Midshipmen summer training is to experience going to sea and experiencing the profession of a Surface Warfare Officer.
CPR3 ships hosted 272 Midshipmen during various long underway periods during the months of June, July and August. In addition, USS BONHOMME RICHARD (LHD 6) embarked 64 Midshipmen embarked for 25 days, with twelve underway training days. USS RUSHMORE (LSD 47) also had 13 Midshipmen embarked for 26 days with seven days of underway training. Although the Midshipmen may have had a general idea of what their schedules were going to be underway, it is hard to imagine that they anticipated how much work it takes to keep a naval warship fully operational. Following the Midshipmen departure Captain Mark T. Sakaguchi, Commander, Amphibious Squadron Three said, "Having the Midshipmen on board was a great opportunity for the PHIBRON THREE ship crews, Chief Petty Officers and Wardrooms to train our future leaders, and for the Midshipmen themselves to experience the operational Navy."
The Midshipmen witnessed what goes on behind the scenes when a ship is underway, and left with a more profound understanding of what it takes to lead Sailors and Marines at sea. The Midshipmen will now take what they learned during their summer training and build upon their knowledge to become more effective future naval officers.