SAN DIEGO - On an early morning after a long Memorial Day weekend, the crew of USS Spruance (DDG 111) prepared to get underway on Tuesday, May 26th with an objective that was far different from its typical certification drills and events.
During this underway, Spruance had 104 midshipmen riders on board as part of the Career Orientation and Training for Midshipmen (CORTRAMID) program, and the goal of the underway was to showcase the surface warfare community.
After embarking the 104 midshipmen, Spruance was outbound to sea for a day of motivating “surface warrior” demonstrations and events. To kick off the day’s events, Spruance showcased the power of the ship’s main propulsion as she steamed at full speed toward the operational area.
During the full power demonstration, the midshipmen broke up into teams and conducted a flag hoist drill. As part of the drill, the navigation division hoisted a series of flags up the mast and the midshipmen teams were challenged with deciphering the flag signals.
For lunch, the Spruance supply team arranged a massive picnic lunch in the helicopter hangars for a “steel beach” picnic on the flight deck, serving an all-American meal of hot dogs, hamburgers, and of course, chocolate chip cookies.
Lunch served another purpose, however, allowing the midshipmen to interact with the commanding officer and members of the crew. The midshipmen eagerly asked questions about the Surface Navy and the opportunities available to them as future junior officers.
Just as lunch ended, the ship reached its destination in the operational area and the pinnacle of the day’s events commenced with live fire exercises of the gun systems.
Spruance fired its five inch cannon, the Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), a 25mm chain gun and finally a .50 caliber machine gun, all of which fired at and successfully sank a massive orange target known as a “killer tomato.”
To give them a true feel of the power of the crew-served weapons, a few of the midshipmen were able to test their skills on the .50 cal. Each team sent one representative to shoot at the target and the team with the most number of hits on the tomato was declared the winner.
With the conclusion of the gun shoots, the ship turned back toward San Diego and the engineers demonstrated the ship’s damage control prowess with a firefighting exhibition. During the event, midshipmen were given a chance to fully dress out in a firefighting ensemble as part of a competition to see who could dress out in response to a fire the fastest.
The day finally wrapped up with an ice cream social where midshipmen were given the opportunity to discuss the surface warfare community with the ship’s junior officers. Part of the event included a boat race, during which the ship’s two small boats were lowered with a boat team and six midshipmen riders each. The small boats raced down the San Diego channel before the coxswains cut power and the riders frantically paddled to the finish line.
Spruance then returned safely to San Diego Harbor after an eventful and memorable day. Bravo Zulu to the crew for the hard work and lasting memories instilled in the Navy’s future officers!