Two hundred and forty-nine U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen selected the ships that they will serve on after graduation and commissioning during Ship Selection Night Jan. 28 in Mahan Hall.
Ship Selection is the culmination of the service assignment process for Naval Academy midshipmen assigned to serve as surface warfare officers (SWO).
Upon reporting to their first ship after graduation May 27, they will be in charge of any number of shipboard operations while at sea.
During the ceremony, all of the available ships are listed on magnetic strips and displayed on stage. Each midshipman has their moment of glory as they walk across the stage and choose their ship on stage in front of cheering classmates.
"It was an honor and a really humbling experience, especially because I would never have made it through the academy without all my classmates who are also in that room," said Midshipman 1st Class Richard Kuzma, who chose USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) out of San Diego. "To share this moment with them and see how elated all of them are - it's a really special time.
Commander, Naval Surface Forces Vice Adm. Thomas S. Rowden (USNA '82) welcomed the future SWOs to the community in his opening remarks.
"It is my distinct honor to welcome you to the surface Naval Academy's Future SWOs Choose First Ships warfare wardroom," he said. "Think of where you were seven months ago, but more importantly, think of where you'll be seven months from now. Many of you will be standing in front of your division, and they will be looking to you for guidance and leadership."
Senior leaders from around the fleet also attend the ceremony, joining ship commanding officers, executive officers and junior officers in welcoming the Navy's future ensigns into the surface warfare community.
"I'm excited for the difference you're going to make in our Navy, the difference you're going to make on your ship, the difference you're going to make throughout your entire careers," said Rowden. "There's a great big world out there, and the surface Navy sails in every single inch of it. You're going to be the face of the Navy, and you're going to take us to where it is we need to be."
Midshipman 1st Class Samantha Robbins, who chose LCS Crew 109 out of Mayport, Florida, is already looking ahead to graduation and getting out to the fleet.
"I'm more excited than I thought I could be," said Robbins. "I'm going to be on my ship, doing my job, and nothing makes me more excited than doing that."
Midshipmen choose their ships according to order of merit, which takes into account their academic performance, physical fitness and professionalism throughout their four years at the Naval Academy.