By Lt. j.g. Katherine E. O’Donnell and Ensign Kathryn E. Holleran, USS Preble (DGG 88) Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO — USS Preble (DDG 88) hosted 170 Midshipmen from around the country for training from May through August 2012. Midshipmen came from universities around the country ranging from the United States Naval Academy, Citadel, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Cal Berkley, San Diego State, Spelman College, Boston University, SUNY Maritime, Penn State, University of Texas, George Washington, and MIT.
Three distinct groups of Midshipmen embarked in Preble: Pacific and Professional Training of Midshipmen (PACTRAMID/PROTRAMID) and Career Orientation Training of Midshipmen (CORTRAMID). Groups of 8-to-12 PACTRAMID Midshipmen were embarked in Preble for a month at a time, which afforded them the opportunity to assimilate into the crew and experience what the surface Navy has to offer. The CORTRAMID and PROTRAMID officers in training, which ranged from 35 to 40 Midshipmen, stayed on board for 2-3 days. They experienced a wide range of underway training missions off the coast of Southern California on a smaller, but equally fast-paced scale.
Preble’s goal for the Midshipman training was to execute a steady-strain engagement plan that exposed the Midshipmen to the fundamental skill set surface warfare officers execute on a daily basis: deckplate leadership, resource management, sound engineering practices, tactical acumen, seamanship and navigation. The secondary goal was to expose them to the adventure that is inherently found by those serving aboard a frontline warship.
The first-class Midshipmen were aligned with Preble’s top first tour division officers, while second class Midshipmen were assigned to the ship’s very best and highly motivated enlisted running mates. These PACTRAMID Midshipmen were afforded the opportunity to explore many aspects of Preble and engage in areas of special interest, including anti-submarine, air and surface warfare, navigation and seamanship. Based on the individual interests of the Midshipmen, they were rotated between running mates and divisions to provide an opportunity to experience a wide variety of Preble’s daily operations.
Every day on board was packed with evolutions and activities that provided Midshipman with invaluable hands-on training. The evolutions included underway replenishments, sea and anchor details, anchoring, towing, boat operations and gunnery exercises. During the gun exercises, over 2,000 rounds of various ammunition were fired from the 5-inch gun, 25mm, 50 caliber, and Close-in-Weapon System. The Midshipmen not only observed these evolutions – they became active members of bridge and combat watch teams, providing an extra set of eyes on the bridge and hands on the deckplates.
All Midshipman experienced the underway bridge and combat watch rotation while on board. While the CORTRAMID and PROTRAMID Midshipmen were only on board for a few days each, the PACTRAMID Midshipmen stood over 25 hours of watch per week while underway, and spent over 250 hours in total with their running mates. In addition to building their skill sets on the bridge and in combat, the Midshipman participated in damage control drills, observed the conduct of preventative maintenance, and assisted the preparation of navigational charts. In addition to the busy daily routine, professional development sessions were scheduled with the commanding officer, junior officers, and chief petty officer’s mess. One Midshipman said, “The advice and knowledge passed down from the CPO mess is going to be invaluable for my future as a division officer.” By engaging in these professional development sessions, the Midshipmen gained a broader perspective of what it means to be an officer and the customs and courtesies associated. The Midshipmen were also afforded the opportunity to see and experience what the city of San Diego has to offer. Trips to Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, and San Diego Padres games which were sponsored by the command for the Midshipmen.
Feedback from one Midshipman summed up the effectiveness of Preble’s engagement program. “I was on the fence about entering into the SWO community, but after spending time with Preble I’m really excited about becoming a SWO; and how cool would it be if I ended up on Preble a year from now? Awesome!”
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