GREAT LAKES, Ill. - More than 250 Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) midshipmen and officer candidates from 98 colleges and universities around the country chose the first ships of their Navy careers February 23-24.
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.
“I’m really happy with my selection and getting my first choice,” said Midshipman 1st Class Kathrynn Pedrick, 22, from Powers, Oregon, and a senior at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.
“I’m excited that I will be going to the East Coast (Norfolk, Virginia) and joining the crew of USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7). Since I’ve only been on the West Coast I’m looking forward to seeing new things and visiting new places.”
Pedrick, ranked third for the selection, said she had never been on a large deck assault amphibious ship but was looking forward to learning all about her first ship, getting qualified as a division officer and having fun.
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 make their selections with the assistance of the Navy Personnel Command’s (NPC) surface warfare officer detailers (PERS-41) in Millington, Tennessee. The “draft” allows each midshipman or officer candidate the choice of selecting their ship via video chat, a telephone call, or in person.
The event was live streamed on the PERS-41 YouTube channel for friends and family to view.
This is the eighth time NROTC and NPC have used live, online capabilities like YouTube to conduct the ship selections 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 opted to participate in the Pers-41 YouTube live stream to select their ship.
“The PERS-412, SWO Junior Officer detailing team is so excited to share in this memorable moment for NROTC midshipman and officer candidates selecting their first ship,” said Lt. Noelle Kaufmann, NPC PERS-412 SWO(N) First Tour Division Officer & New Accessions Detailer and the accessions coordinator for this year’s NROTC Ship Selection.
“This is the only time in their careers these surface warriors will have complete control over their next assignment, and it’s truly amazing to see where they choose. Every year our detailers are surprised to see how the selection plays out in terms of popular homeports and platforms. We are thrilled to see a ton of support from the NROTC units, family and friends throughout the selections and livestream. [I’m] Looking forward to working with these soon to be SWOs out in the Fleet,” Kaufmann added.
This year also marked the sixth 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. This year eight “Blue Chip” midshipmen were asked to return to the ship they were on during their Summer Cruise and all eight accepted the invitations by the commanding officers of the ships.
“It was really nice to be able to pick early,” said Midshipman 1st Class Emlyn Thorogood, 21, from Havertown, Pennsylvania, and a senior at the University of Rochester (New York). “It feels good knowing that all the hard work I’ve accomplished the past four years has finally paid off.”
Thorogood was the fifth midshipman to choose his first ship which will be the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99) homeported in Jacksonville, Florida, at Naval Station Mayport.
“I’m looking forward to taking on new leadership roles and being in a warmer climate,” he said.
Norwich University-The Military College of (Northfield) Vermont midshipmen Zachery Bergeron, 21, from Blackstone, Massachusetts, and Sebastian Martin, 22, from Tremont, Illinois, selected second and fourth respectfully.
Bergeron selected the destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) homeported in Rota, Spain, and Martin picked USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) located in Yokosuka, Japan. Each said they were ready for the challenges of being assigned to forward-deployed ships.
“I hope to get a good understanding of what it’s like to be forward-deployed and being a part of “the blue water Navy,” Martin said. “This will be a good opportunity to experience what it’s like to be in a real leadership position and experience the world.”
Bergeron said he wanted to report to the amphibious command and control flagship of the Seventh Fleet with an open mind. “I want to learn and experience as much as I can.”
Following commissioning ceremonies and graduations, 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 overseen by Rear Adm. Jennifer Couture and her Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) staff headquartered at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois.
“I’m sure all the Surface Warfare Officer NROTC midshipmen are as excited selecting their first ship as I was picking mine and getting orders to my first ship, USS Wasp, in 1995,” said Couture, who was commissioned through the NROTC program at The George Washington University in Washington, D. C.
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.
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.netc.navy.mil/NSTC/NROTC/.