SAN FRANCISCO (NNS) -- The University of California (UC), Berkeley Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) unit witnessed the commissioning of the USS America (LHA 6) during San Francisco Fleet Week, Oct. 11.
America is the Navy's most technologically advanced amphibious assault ship.
More than 30 percent of the unit's midshipmen from UC Berkeley and four participating cross-town university affiliates - UC Davis, Stanford University, and California Maritime Academy - were in attendance to support the ship's company during the ceremony.
"It was a humbling experience," said Midshipman 1st Class Sarah Bell of UC Davis. "You don't really realize the amount of time, work, and funding that goes into producing ships, especially one as large as USS America. It made me feel very proud of the incredible partnerships the Navy has with American industry."
Midshipman 3rd Class Kyle Estes of the California Maritime Academy said the trip was "... a great way to bond. As a unit, we were able to work as a team and get to know one another better."
Estes also said working closely with the ship's company, "gave us a better understanding of what we'll be doing upon graduation and with whom we'll be working."
Director Kathryn Scott, Dr. Rachel Slaybaugh, and Dr. Philip Spieth (faculty from UC Berkeley and leaders of the ROTC Advisory Committee) also attended the commissioning ceremony as guests of the unit.
Following the ceremony, the midshipmen and faculty were invited to take a tour of Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Kidd (DDG-100) by Kidd's Commanding Officer Cmdr. T.J. Zerr. On the ship's bridge, in the combat information center and in the helicopter hangar bay officers on board described their daily responsibilities and offered helpful advice on how to succeed as an ensign.
"I have not had very much exposure to ships and Navy life as a whole," said Midshipman 3rd Class Jasmine Valencia from UC Davis. "Being able to take a tour of USS Kidd has now interested me in serving on a destroyer."
NROTC UC Berkeley is among the oldest ROTC units in the country and one of the original six ROTC units created. It was established by Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz in 1926.
The NROTC program, overseen by Naval Service Training Command at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinios, was established to develop midshipmen mentally, morally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, loyalty and Navy core values in order to commission college graduates as Naval officers who possess a basic professional background, are motivated toward careers in the Naval service and have a potential for future development in mind and character so as to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.