Midshipmen Prepare for the Fleet Onboard USS STOCKDALE
On 31 May 2010, eight midshipmen took the next step towards their commission as Naval Officers: a one month summer cruise onboard USS STOCKDALE. Summer cruise allows midshipmen a gain a glimpse as to what they can expect to see and do when they enter the fleet as new Ensigns and Division Officers. The midshipmen spend their days learning what Sailors do on a daily basis, and how the fleet operates.
Midshipman First Class Mark Maliniak confirmed that, “I think my most important takeaway has been translating what we’ve learned about leadership from school, and seeing it in everyday practice on the deck plates of STOCKDALE.” Although summer cruise is tailored as a learning opportunity for the midshipmen, it also allows the Fleet’s Sailors to groom their future Division Officers early in their careers. Without this opportunity, midshipmen would enter the Navy with a limited perspective as to what enlisted Sailors do to drive the fleet. Each Midshipman is set up with a “running-mate,” who escorts the Midshipmen through their day-to-day workday.
“I’ve enjoyed talking to the Midshipmen and telling them about my experiences in the Navy,” said Damage Controlman First Class Zachary Moran. “Each Sailor has a different perspective, and I think these future officers benefit a lot by seeing the Navy from our different points-of-view.”
The eight STOCKDALE midshipmen have truly immersed themselves in the ship’s underway and in-port evolutions. RHIB rides, gun shoots, conning evolutions, sea and anchor details, and sub-hunting evolutions have been a mere sliver of what the midshipmen have delved into over the past two weeks.
According to Midshipman First Class Jeff Jackson, his best experience was “Watching how fast the missile requests would be processed from message received to CO approval. I was really surprised with how fast we could get a missile in the air to support our troops in hostile territory.”
Future training evolutions include time in the Naval Base’s Bridge Simulator, tours of other naval vessels, and active roles as detainees in a VBSS boarding scenario. Although the midshipmen have experienced in a limited time what many Sailors are fortunate enough to experience in a year, they unanimously declared that the most valuable part of their cruise has been their conversations with the crew whether it be on the mess decks, in the gym, or on the bridge. These interactions cannot be scripted or planned and often times provide the midshipmen the best, most realistic view into the lives of Sailors and life onboard a Navy ship.
Thanks to LTjg Mikaela Rodkin, STOCKDALE’s Training Officer, the ship has taken great care to ensure the best possible training environment for the midshipmen because it realizes that the more the Navy invests in training its midshipmen, the better product the Navy will receive upon each midshipman’s commissioning.