Twenty-eight midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy and Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) units throughout the country completed their at-sea training aboard the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), July 12.
The training is designed to give the future naval officers first-hand knowledge of shipboard life, and the opportunity to enhance their professional development aboard operational fleet units.
“Being on board George Washington gave me real-time experience,” said Midshipman 1st Class Chelsea Smith, from Sasebo, Japan, also a student at the U.S. Naval Academy. “The phrase ‘Semper Gumby’ meaning, ‘always flexible’ is a very good message to stand by. I am more confident in knowing that I will be a commissioned officer on a ship next year from the lessons I learned from my running mate.”
Running mates serve as mentors for midshipmen on the ship to show many of the challenges, responsibilities and experiences a junior officer (JO) may have.
“The crew and officers on board are real and straight to the point,” said Midshipman 1st Class Verna Macapagal, from Spring, Texas, also a NROTC student at Prairie View A&M University. “My running mate taught me the problems she went through on her first years as a JO and the experiences she has had. I like that she can be funny but stern when she needs to be.”
These midshipmen were exposed to the entire operations of an aircraft carrier, from fuel maintainance below decks to air operations on the flight deck.
“Everyone at school wants to become the flashy Top Gun pilot,” said Smith. “However, my experience here has opened my eyes to the importance of being a surface warfare officer, and I see now that I am able to use my dad’s history of being enlisted to be able to relate and help junior Sailors in the future.”
Learning directly from a JO while underway is the last experience first class midshipmen will have before being commissioned.
“It is a valuable opportunity for midshipmen to embark on an aircraft carrier,” said Capt. Greg Fenton, George Washington’s commanding officer. “It gives them an opportunity to be a part of the watch standing organization and gives them the chance to experience life in the fleet. I was impressed at how they performed in watch standing duties and responsibilities, and their performance in taking command of the ship while George Washington exercised underway replenishments and flight operations.”
George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its partners and allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
Press Release, July 15, 2013