SAN DIEGO – A group of Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) midshipmen from colleges across the country experienced the taste of saltwater and life and sea for a day aboard the guided missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), May 29.
The purpose of the day-long cruise was to spark the midshipmen’s interest in the surface warfare community as a future career path.
As part of the NROTC program, midshipmen submit their preferences for which warfare community they would like to enter upon commissioning. By getting underway on an active duty warship, this group of future officers received first-hand experience on shipboard life to help make that decision.
“It’s definitely not what I expected, there is a lot more to setting sail than I originally thought,” began Midshipmen 3rd Class Sarah Hoffman from the University of Auburn. “I’ve always wanted to get into the aviation field but after today, being a surface warfare officer has really sparked my interest.”
During their visit, the midshipmen watched live gunfire exercises, mass causality drills, air-defense exercises, damage control training, high power turns and other ship-handling evolutions.
While gaining knowledge for his future, one midshipman was also able to connect with his past.
“My father served proudly on this ship over 20 years ago. It’s a real honor to be able to set sail and follow in his footsteps,” said Midshipmen 3rd Class Benjamin Jones from the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Jones’s father, retired Navy Capt. Stu Jones, was the ship’s supply officer at the time of commissioning. In addition, his sister Megan Jones was the first child christened in the ship’s bell during a ceremony that took place when the ship was still under construction.
“I can’t think of a better way to start my life other than keeping my family legacy going,” said Jones. “The Navy has always provided for me and I would love to be able to provide for my family one day while serving as a naval officer.”
The group of midshipmen’s time aboard the destroyer was the first among many expected moments that will not only shape their own career, but also those who they will eventually lead after commissioning.