SAN DIEGO, CA. - USS BENFOLD (DDG 65) is playing host to six Midshipmen as part of the yearly Summer Cruise training that is bestowed upon thousands of college students bound for service as Commissioned Officers in the United States Navy. The purpose is to teach these young adults not only about life as a Surface Warfare Officer, but as a Sailor as well. “By pairing the Second Class Midshipmen with Enlisted Sailors, they are exposed to a perspective that will shape their minds once they become Officers, regardless of the career path they choose,” explained LTJG William Hughes, BENFOLD’s Midshipmen (MIDN) coordinator.
The MIDN follow a qualification sheet that guides them to seek out and accomplish assignments that help develop their skills as future junior Officers. From damage control training to driving the ship as a conning officer, these MIDN have their work cut out for them. “One part of this training that you don’t experience at ROTC is the nonstop pace while out at sea,” explained First Class MIDN Glen Rugaber, of University of Rochester, NY. “I often feel as if I need to be in two places at once just to experience every evolution.”
“We want these young men and women to gain the full experience of what it’s like being a BENFOLD Sailor,” said Executive Officer CDR Michele Day. “Our goal is to provide these Midshipmen the opportunity to experience shipboard life as a member of the BENFOLD crew, not just a guest.” But this doesn’t mean it is all work and no play for the crew. “The swim call and steel beach off of the Maui coast are definitely my favorite events so far,” according to University of Rochester First Class MIDN Claire Kobal.
With BENFOLD’s recent return to port, the MIDN focus will shift from performing evolutions to getting smart on administration work. “This phase of the training really shows that being an Officer is not just learning about powerful weapon systems and driving warships, but it’s also about taking care of Sailors and all the required administration work that comes along with that,” LTJG Hughes points out. “It’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination.”
The MIDN will remain onboard BENFOLD through much of June before returning to their respective ROTC units. Be on the lookout for daily updates on the official USS BENFOLD Facebook page.
USS BENFOLD is an Arleigh Burke Ballistic Missile Destroyer out of San Diego, CA. She and her crew are gearing up for an extended maintenance period that will see the latest upgrades in both BMD and ASW suites.