USS INGRAHAM, At Sea (NNS) -- Four students from the United States Naval Academy spent an eventful two weeks on board USS Ingraham (FFG 61) for their first midshipman cruise from May to June.
The purpose of the cruise after freshman year is to expose midshipmen to typical enlisted life in the Navy. They live in the enlisted berthing spaces and experience working both in various departments on board and across the Navy communities.
After experiencing the exhausting daily schedule on board Midshipman 3rd Class Thomas Doughty felt "an even deeper appreciation for the SWO [Surface Warfare Officer] community."
Midshipman 3rd Class Israel Varela was blown away by the performance of the junior enlisted Sailors on board USS Ingraham. "It's amazing how hard they work. I could tell how motivated they are, even when tired on deployment, that they still perform at the top level."
In addition to working side by side with enlisted Sailors, the midshipmen also trained with division officers, applying their Academy lessons on basic ship handling and standard commands during conning officer watches.
When not standing watch the midshipmen sampled various jobs on a deployed surface vessel: fighting simulated shipboard fires, navigating in the small boat, climbing the main mast, training with the embarked Coast Guard law enforcement detachment (LEDET), and clearing the ship using Visit, Board Search and Seizure Tactical Team maneuvers.
The midshipmen even observed how the Ingraham crew, embarked helicopter squadron, and LEDET collaborated to successfully intercept, search, and seize a vessel, its crew, and a shipment of illegal narcotics.
Midshipman 3rd Class Thomas Rooney's favorite experience was flying in one of the two embarked SH-60B helicopters. Midshipman 3rd Class Jonathan Goldberg agreed, adding that a close second was "shooting all the guns, especially going full auto on the M240." They shot both small arms and crew served weapons, and observed the firing of the 76mm gun and Phalanx Close-in Weapon System.
Cmdr. Joey Frantzen, Ingraham's commanding officer and a Naval Academy alumnus, concluded, "It was a pleasure having the midshipmen aboard and showing them what Ingraham has to offer."