GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- More than 245 Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) midshipmen and officer candidates from 81 colleges and universities around the country chose the first ships of their Navy careers February 20-22.
Ship selection is one of the most significant events for these midshipmen and officer candidates as they take their first step toward joining the U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) community in the fleet.
Midshipmen and officer candidates are ranked according to their grade point average, aptitude scores, and physical fitness assessments. Known as the “SWO Draft”, the students made their selections with the assistance of the Navy Personnel Command’s (NPC) surface warfare officer detailers (PERS-41) in Millington, Tennessee. The “draft” allowed each midshipman or officer candidate the choice of selecting their ship via a telephone call or via an online collaboration tool. The online tool was moderated by PERS-412 and allowed up to ten participants at a time, in a group video chat room.
The event was also live streamed on the PERS-41 YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWhGUNDzRtgbgGyR1kcyJ4A) for friends and family to enjoy. This is the fifth time NROTC and NPC have used online tools like this to conduct ship selection providing midshipmen a memorable start to their SWO careers.
According to NPC officials, the participating NROTC units displayed a great deal of school spirit -- some units had live music and university mascots participating behind the selecting midshipmen. Many midshipmen and officer candidates who had initially elected to select their ships via a telephone call changed their minds after viewing the excitement of the online tool and jumped into the room to select their ship.
Officer Candidate Stephanie Richardson, from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, was the 2019 top-ranked midshipman/officer candidate and first to select a ship. She selected the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99), home ported in Mayport, Florida.
“I feel very accomplished to be the No. 1 selector,” said Richardson, 30, from Greenville, S. C. “I learned a lot of good habits during my time enlisted and was able to successfully apply them to my time in college. I keep the mentality that there is always something more that I can learn to better myself and others in the future.”
Richardson enlisted in the Navy in 2009 and went to the Navy’s only boot camp, Recruit Training Camp (RTC) at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois. She then attended Fire Controlman (FC) “A” School at Great Lakes, and FC “C” School in Dahlgren, Virginia, where she became an Aegis Fire Controlman. She was assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 111) in San Diego, in 2011, and worked her way up to petty officer first class. In January 2016 she was selected to become a SWO through the Seaman-To-Admiral program (STA-21), and chose to attend Embry-Riddle because of the school’s strong engineering program.
“I'm very grateful for all my former leaders and mentors in the Navy and with my NROTC unit that believed in me and encouraged me to apply for the STA-21 program. My success thus far has been greatly influenced by their continued support and guidance,” Richardson said.
Next to select was Marquette University (Milwaukee) Midshipman 1st Class Donovan Lyon, 22, from Milwaukee. Lyon selected the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71), homeported in Rota, Spain. Lyon follows and will join fellow Marquette graduate and Ensign Brandy Kinnunen, who selected second last year and is also currently assigned to the Ross in Rota.
“I’m very happy with how the selection process went,” Lyon said. “I spent a lot time researching ships and homeports and in the end got my first choice. “I love to travel, I wanted to be forward deployed and I was told the ships (in Rota) have really good reputations so it went really well.”
Lyon said he appreciated the support he received from the staff at Marquette NROTC and thought the Live Stream and online process from NPC was unique and interesting.
“I think it’s something they should continue to do because it makes it more fun for the midshipmen.”
Midshipman 1st Class Seamus Long, 22, from Bethesda, Maryland, and a senior in the University of Notre Dame NROTC unit, called the selection process a really cool experience.
“It was really a culmination of everything we have worked for,” Long, who selected the USS Porter (DDG 78), another Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer also homeported in Rota, Spain. “We had a bunch of other midshipmen in our unit who came into the conference room to watch and provide support as we gave our picks.”
Long said he selected Porter because of the homeport and the opportunity to be stationed in Rota and the Mediterranean area.
“I figured now, as a young single ensign, would be the time to go live somewhere outside the continental United States. On top of that [the U. S.] 6th Fleet is a huge area of strategic interest right now for the U. S. I thought it would be in the best interest for me right now at the start of my Navy career.”
This year also marked the third Midshipmen Early Ship Selection “Blue Chip” Initiative. The Initiative was advertised to both commanding officers and NROTC Units; and, it gave commanding officers the opportunity to select up to two Midshipmen from their First Class Cruise to return to the ship after commissioning. The selected midshipmen had a reserved spot on the ship lists at Ship Selection (regardless of Order of Merit ranking) and had the option to accept or deny the offer. If a midshipman denied the offer, then that spot became available to the remaining selectees. Nine midshipmen from the Spring 2019 NROTC Ship Selection were offered spots via the “Blue Chip” Initiative and five accepted the offers.
The full results from the ship selection are posted at: http://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/Pages/Spring-2019-ROTC-Ship-Selection.aspx/
Following commissioning ceremonies and graduation, from May to July, the newly commissioned SWOs will be on their way to their first shipboard assignments as Navy Ensigns.
The NROTC program is supported by Rear Adm. Mike Bernacchi and his NSTC command staff headquartered at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois, and his Officer Development staff stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida.
The NROTC program was established to develop midshipmen mentally, morally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, loyalty and Navy core values in order to commission college graduates as Naval officers.
The officers will possess a basic professional background, are motivated toward careers in the Naval service and have a potential for future development in mind and character so as to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.
NSTC oversees 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy, as well as the Navy’s Citizenship Development program. NSTC also supports RTC; NROTC units at more than 160 colleges and universities; Officer Training Command (OTC) at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island; and Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.
For more information about Navy ROTC, visit https://www.nrotc.navy.mil/. For more information about NSTC, visit http://www.netc.navy.mil/nstc/ or visit the NSTC Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/NavalServiceTraining/.