ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- Two hundred, forty-four U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) midshipmen selected the ships they will serve on after graduation during Ship Selection Night Jan. 26 in Alumni Hall.
During Ship Selection, midshipmen first class assigned to the surface warfare officer (SWO) community choose their first ship and homeport.
"For SWO selects, this is the single biggest moment of their time at USNA other than commissioning," said Lt. Nick Driscoll, Ship Selection coordinator for 2017. "This is a unique opportunity for these midshipmen to hand-select their ship and homeport. From now on, their time in the Navy will be spent putting in preferences and crossing their fingers that they get what they requested."
The midshipmen Overall Order of Merit is used to organize the order for selection. The factors which go into Overall Order of Merit include each midshipman's academic, military, and athletic performance.
"No matter what ship everyone chooses, we are all here to support the overall mission of sea control," said Midshipman 1st Class Jacob Wirz, who made the night's first selection of guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) homeported in Rota, Spain. "It's a great, fun-filled night, but this is just the beginning. We are still continuing to prepare and train for the challenges we will face when we arrive at the ships we've chosen."
Senior leaders from the surface warfare community -- including Commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command Adm. Philip S. Davidson and Commander of Naval Surface Forces Vice Adm. Thomas S. Rowden -- joined representatives from fleet ships around the world in welcoming the midshipmen first class into the SWO community.
"Give it everything you've got," said Rowden. "The men and women you will be leading will look to you for guidance. The Naval Academy has given you the best training and the best foundation you can be provided. You have all the tools in your toolkit to do the best you can at your job."
During summer cruises, midshipmen embark upon Navy ships to get more experience as junior officers. Commanding officers of those ships can offer "blue chips" to midshipmen who especially impress them, which give them an automatic spot in that wardroom if they choose to take it. Midshipman 1st Class Samantha Young was offered one for amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) out of Norfolk.
"I'm beyond excited I was able to select the ship I wanted," said Young. "USS America is deploying in July, and I'm excited to get there and try to make a positive impact on the crew."
After choosing their ships, future junior officers continue to hone and develop their leadership and professional knowledge to prepare for their first duty assignments.
"I'm going to take a little time to be around my friends and classmates; it's coming down to the last time we will all be together," said Midshipman 1st Class Taylor Kipilli, who selected guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73) out of Pearl Harbor, "but I'm still honing my leadership skills so I can bring the best me to the ship when I get out there.
The Class of 2017 will graduate and receive their commissions May 26.
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