SOUTH CHINA SEA (NNS) -- Eighteen Midshipmen from colleges around the U.S. embarked guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) for their 2016 summer training surface warfare cruise, July 7.
The purpose of the midshipman summer training program is to allow them the opportunity to experience the daily lives of officers and enlisted Sailors in the fleet. Throughout the training program aboard Decatur, midshipmen participated in damage control training, small boat operations, medical training, maneuvering exercises, underway refueling at sea and tours of ship spaces.
"The summer training program is vital to their training as they will not only get to experience life on a frontline destroyer operating at the tip of the spear, but they will learn firsthand what it is like to be a Sailor and a division officer," said Cmdr. Garrett Miller, Decatur's commanding officer. "They are immersed in every aspect of shipboard life at sea and in port."
The midshipmen were paired with "running mates" -- junior officers and exceptional Sailors -- to help train and mentor them.
"I remember my experience when I was a midshipman," said Lt. j.g. Christian Tan, Decatur's gunnery officer. "I try to teach them things they can't learn in the academy and give them as much information as possible so they can be the best future leaders that they can be."
Tan added having the midshipmen aboard brings a new energy and motivation to the Sailors.
"It really is a great experience for the midshipmen, as it gives them a chance to see how officers and enlisted interact with each other and make the ship run smoothly," said Quartermaster 2nd Class Dametrious Jenkins. "I was able to learn some things from them and I know they learned some things from me, and at the end of the day that's success."
The midshipmen were assigned to various departments aboard Decatur. They received exposure to the engineering propulsion plant, supply system, the Aegis weapons system, small arms, naval weapons and navigation while they also got a behind the scenes look at everyday life of Sailors.
For Midshipman 1st Class Destiny Harrell, from Round Lake, Illinois, shadowing Sailors in the engineering department was an eye-opening experience.
"I have a better understanding and appreciation for what they do on a daily basis," said Harrell. "When I get to my first ship I will keep in mind the amount of time and effort that goes into each job."
At the end of their time aboard Decatur these future Sailors will continue their education and leadership training.
"Decatur Sailors are proud of who they are and what they do. Anytime our Sailors get to teach and mold the future leaders of the Navy, that's a win in my book," said Miller.
Decatur is currently underway in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region as part of a U.S. 3rd Fleet Pacific Surface Action Group (PAC SAG) with guided-missile destroyers USS Spruance (DDG 111) and USS Momsen (DDG 92), under the operations of Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 31.
The U.S. Navy maintains a presence in the region to help preserve peace and security and to further their partnerships with friends and allies. This forward presence contributes to freedom of navigation and lawful use of the sea, as well as furthers operational training and enables an exchange of culture, skills, and tactical knowledge.
Under the operational control of U.S. 3rd Fleet, the PAC SAG conducts routine patrols, maritime security operations, and theater cooperation activities to enhance regional security and stability.
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