USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea - A group of 54 Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy got underway with the crew of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) July 23-27, for the first week of their 2012 Professional Training of Midshipmen (PROTRAMID) program.
PROTRAMID is a multi-week event that provides in-depth training in the Navy surface, aviation, submarine and Marine Corps warfare communities to midshipmen during the summer months.
According to Ensign Kristen Steinbach, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and one of the PROTRAMID coordinators aboard Makin Island, the objective of the visit was to allow the Midshipmen to experience life as a junior officer aboard a surface naval vessel.
"We gave them the chance to experience the ship's daily schedule and routine so they know what to expect," said Steinbach.
Steinbach, along with other junior officers, led the group of Midshipmen on tours of the ship's engineering, operations, combat cargo and other areas during their five-day visit.
In addition to learning from Makin Island officers, the group of Midshipmen spent many hours with the ship's crew, sleeping in enlisted berthing areas and eating meals on the mess decks.
Midshipman 2nd Class Lauren Baguley, from Hudsonville, Mich., said the junior officers and enlisted members of the crew made her feel welcome during the underway period.
"As Midshipmen, we are not part of the crew, and we feel like we are in the way," said Baguley. "So sometimes we feel awkward asking questions because we don't want to interrupt the crew."
However, Baguley said the Makin Island crew has been extremely receptive to their visit.
"I was outside and saw some of the crew cleaning the 50 cal. gun mounts, and when I asked about what they were doing, they were so happy to show us all about the guns," added Baguly, who said she is interested in pursuing a career in Navy medicine.
Midshipman 2nd Class Caitlin Olsen, from Los Gatos, Calif., said she appreciated the effort the crew put into making her cruise a learning opportunity.
"We saw so many aspects of surface warfare, including aviation and amphibious operations, and we learned so much from the enlisted personnel who have all the knowledge and experience to operate the ship," said Olsen.
PROTRAMID is considered to be an important time for Midshipmen because it provides increased understanding and first-hand experience in the Navy in order to help them improve leadership skills and choose specific officer career paths.
Makin Island recently returned from a seven-month deployment and was the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the ship saved more than $15 million in fuel costs and the Navy expects to see fuel cost savings of more than $250 million, over the course of the ship's lifecycle. Lessons learned during Makin Island's maiden deployment prove the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation and will positively influence future ship designs for several decades.
This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the secretary of the Navy's energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.