USS INGRAHAM, At Sea (NNS) -- Three students from the United States Naval Academy spent a month on board USS Ingraham (FFG 61) for their first midshipman cruise from June to July, 2014.
The objective 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 various departments on board as well as across the Navy communities.
"Having the midshipmen on board during deployment not only offers them the opportunity to see what the Navy does, but it gives my Sailors the chance to show off their ship," said Cmdr. Daniel Straub, commanding officer, USS Ingraham.
The midshipmen were given the opportunity to experience various aspects of life onboard Ingraham. Enlisted running mates introduced the midshipmen to the daily routine of the typical Sailor.
The midshipmen also assimilated into the officer watch rotation, standing watch in the pilothouse, Combat Information Center, and Central Control Station. Their last week on board consisted of participating in the daily activities with the air department detachment.
"Although we are extensively trained on the Navy at the academy, this cruise allowed us to see what it was like to actually be a part of the fleet," said Midshipmen 3rd Class Scott Swegle from West Des Moines, Iowa.
While underway on board Ingraham, the midshipmen participated in various events including fighting simulated shipboard fires, climbing the main mast, clearing the ship using Visit, Board Search and Seizure Tactical Team maneuvers, participating in the Security Reaction Force (Basic) course and training with the embarked U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment and helicopter squadron.
The midshipmen also observed the successful interception, search, and seizure of a vessel trafficking illegal narcotics.
"This sort of experience cannot be taught in a classroom," said Swegle.
Above all, the midshipmen enjoyed having the opportunity to watch the firing of Ingraham's weapons systems to include the 76mm gun. They were given the chance to shoot the M203 grenade launcher, M240, and 50 calibre machine gun. The midshipmen also went on familiarization flitght in one of the two embarked SH-60B helicopters.
"This tour onboard Ingraham provided a broad view of the Surface Navy," commented Midshipman 3rd Class Brian Evertson from Kimball, Nebraska. "We really benefited seeing the difference between an enlisted and officer's typical work day. I also enjoyed seeing the cooperation between the ship's Sailors and the embarked air detachment."
Ingraham is deployed in support of Operation Martillo, an international and interagency effort that targets illicit trafficking in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.