SOUTH CHINA SEA - Six Midshipmen from the U. S. Naval Academy (USNA) embarked the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Lassen (DDG 82) for their summer training program.
Two 1st Class and four 3rd Class Midshipmen during the past month, were immersed in every aspect of shipboard life including helicopter and small boat operations, air warfare, damage control, anti-submarine warfare, small weapons training, navigation and shiphandling while underway.
3rd Class Midshipmen from the USNA were assigned enlisted running mates who introduced them to the shipboard Sailor life they will eventually lead. 1st Class Midshipmen are assigned junior officer running mates who introduce the Midshipmen to the life of a surface warfare division officer.
“This is the first ship I’ve been on and it’s exciting to see how a ship’s crew works underway, and how the U.S. Navy operates in the Pacific,” said Midshipman 3rd Class Sarah Phinney from Basking Ridge, N. J. “We only learn about this in the classroom and hear about what is happening out here in the news. It has been great to actually live it.”
In their time aboard Lassen, the midshipmen experienced forward-deployed naval forces (FDNF) operations and the rigors involved with being an officer aboard a naval warship. The Midshipmen have integrated into every aspect of crew life to include conning the ship, learning preservation techniques, qualify for watchstations with their running mate, conducting all-hands working parties to support stores onload and lead a division of up to 22 Sailors.
“Lassen is participating in actual real-world missions everyday, and it is great way to experience a forward deployed ship”, said Midshipman 1st Class Jacob Hillard from Peotone, Ill. “Seeing other surface platforms from foreign countries like the People’s Republic of China and speaking with them on bridge-to-bridge radio was a very unique experience, but the Sailors of [Destroyer Squadron] 15 get to do this everyday.”
Within the next few months, the 1st Class Midshipmen will use their time aboard Lassen to make their final decision and select the warfare community of their choice, after they graduate in the coming year. This is a big decision that could eventually lead to the 1st Class Midshipmen spending anywhere from five to 30 years in that chosen career field.
Lassen, one of seven destroyers assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, is currently on patrol in the South China Sea conducting presences operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.