USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea - A group of 83 midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy got underway with the crew of USS Makin Island (LHD 8) Aug. 1-3 as part of a specialized training program for the future naval officers.
The group was participating in week six of the Professional Training of Midshipmen (PROTRAMID) program, a two-month cycle that introduces midshipmen missions of various naval communities to include surface, aviation, and submarine warfare. They also train with the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton.
According to Makin Island's training department, the three days of underway time afforded the future officers an opportunity to see how the surface warfare community and amphibious ships operate at sea.
"Our primary goal was to show the midshipmen a broad variety of ship operations and to excite them about surface warfare," said Lt. Cmdr Ty Wiese, Makin Island's training officer.
Wiese said the schedule included a number of mentoring sessions with senior officers and members of Makin Island's chief petty officers mess.
"We know they are curious, so we placed them in a variety of training opportunities," said Wiese.
Prior to their arrival, command organizers placed the midshipmen into four small teams with a junior officers assigned as a team escort.
During their time on board Makin Island, the midshipmen were able to observe flight operations, witness well deck and damage control demonstrations, and participate in small boat operations.
"One of the things I really enjoyed the most about this whole trip was getting the chance to see the bigger picture of things," said Midshipman 2nd Class Ian Sonnenberg, a native of Chicago. "It's not just a tool of war, but also for humanitarian aid."
Sonnenberg said he was impressed with the capability of both the ship and the crew he experienced during the PROTRAMID program.
"In a nation where we're going through [budget and fiscal] issues, this vessel is moving towards the green side," he said. "We're starting to do more with less."
Commissioned in 2009, Makin Island is the Navy's newest Wasp-class amphibious assault ship capable of utilizing surface and air assets to move Marine forces ashore. The ship is named in honor of the daring World War II raid carried out by Marine Raider Companies A and B, Second Raider Battalion, on Japanese held Makin Island Aug. 17-18, 1942. LHD 8 is the second ship to bear the name "USS Makin Island."