Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ship Selection 2015: USNA vs. ROTC

The pomp and circumstance of Ship Selection Night is unique to USNA. Here, two SWOs on the Yard - share their very different experiences in finding out their first ship. One is a USNA grad and one a graduate of Villanova's NROTC unit.

Tonight's ceremony will be streamed live online at

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ship Selection 2015: Advice from SWOs on the Yard

Surface warfare officers (SWO) on the Yard share their experience choosing their first ship and some advice for the mids of the USNA Class of 2015 who will choose their ships tomorrow, Jan. 29, starting at 6:30 p.m. The Ship Selection ceremony can be watched online through a live stream at

Leadership Conference Impressions

More than 200 students from nearly 50 military and civilian colleges come to the USNA Leadership Conference each year, and for most of them, it's their first visit to the Yard. Some of this year's participant's shared some of their thoughts.

Joelle Blas (far left), from Christopher Newport University, expected the prestige 
and structure at USNA, but actually being able to here and experience it firsthand, 
she felt the sense of unity that exists here. She said it has been great to get to 
know the people behind the uniforms.

Ellie Crowell, JD Whetsel, and Francesco Padulo, from Cornell University came 
to the conference as sports-oriented leaders, so being able to meet and interact 
with people who practice different types of leadership has been a great experience. 
They have found this to be a good, diverse group of people. As far as their impression 
of the academy, they've never seen tradition like this before and have enjoyed learning 
about all that we do here at USNA.

Christopher D'Urso (center) has been impressed by the hospitality here 
and has enjoyed  seeing the school and our USNA traditions.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What is Ship Selection Night?

CDR Glen Quast, from USNA's Seamanship and Navigation Department, explains what the U.S. Naval Academy's Ship Selection Night is all about. Ship Selection Night for the prospective surface warfare officers of the Class of 2015 is this Thursday, Jan. 29. 

In-Depth Leadership with LCDR Shivok

By MIDN 2/C Jake Barney

Walking through Chauvenet Hall, sooner or later you will hear the booming voice of LCDR Timothy Shivok echoing through the closed door. 

As a physics teacher, his job requires that he teach a difficult subject to 3/C midshipmen who have had limited, if any, prior experience with the beast that is physics. And he does this quite well. LCDR Shivok puts in 100% effort with all of his students. Whether he is staying until 2200 for extra instruction or answering the questions of students from sections other than his own, LCDR Shivok is always putting everything he has into his students.

By his excellent example of working hard for his people, it encourages the students to do the same with their school work. Along with his excellent example of a hard working attitude, LCDR Shivok also incorporates important life lessons into his classes by drawing from his extensive experience as a prior-enlisted sailor in the submarine force. Always read the instructions, take care of your people, and always be respectful: These are just some of the lessons that one will learn after taking his class.  

In addition to his time spent molding the minds of his physics students, LCDR Shivok also directs his attention to the Dolphin Club. As the officer representative for the club, LCDR Shivok is an integral part in organizing club meetings as well as trips to Norfolk and Groton. Not only did he help organize these trips, but he also went on the most recent trip to Norfolk in order to help guide midshipmen through the warships and submarines on base.  

Additionally, LCDR Shivok shows his selflessness by always offering to buy the entire group of midshipmen’s dinner on these trips in addition to paying out of pocket for the pizza at some of the meetings. Through his hard work towards the club, midshipmen interested in the submarine community are able to see first-hand the amazing opportunities that lie ahead if they choose to follow in his footsteps.

LCDR Shivok truly cares for midshipmen and always goes the extra mile to ensure that their submarine questions are answered. His door is truly always open and goes to show just how much he cares for his people. LCDR Shivok is a prime illustration of what it means to lead by example.  

Monday, January 26, 2015

U.S. Naval Academy Summer 2015 Seminar Seeks Students

By LT Teng K. Ooi

Applications for the Naval Academy Summer 2015 Seminar (NASS) opened Jan. 15 at Session dates include May 30-June 4, June 6-11 and June 13-18.

The United States Naval Academy Summer 2015 Seminar invites a select group of young men and women to attend this fast-paced, six-day experience designed to introduce the Naval Academy to rising high school seniors.

At the core of the seminar is the academic program involving 90-minute workshops designed to promote problem-solving skills using critical thinking, optimization, innovation, creativity, and team work.

Students choose eight workshops from a wide range of subjects including information technology, mathematics, meteorology and oceanography, robotics, naval weapons systems, electrical and biometrics engineering, naval architecture and ocean engineering, cyber operations, mechanical engineering, aeronautical and astronautical engineering, chemistry, languages, history, political science, literature, economics, physics, character development, seamanship and navigation, nuclear engineering and more.

Students participate in project-based modules applying hands-on, real-world approaches to solving design and analysis problems utilizing the Naval Academy’s world-class laboratory facilities. These facilities provide a unique learning environment outside the traditional classroom.

NASS teaches prospective applicants about the life of midshipmen at the Naval Academy, where academics, athletics, and professional training are key elements in developing our nation's leaders. Students live in the dormitory, eat in the dining hall, and participate in academic and leadership workshops.

They also participate in daily physical training including group runs and conditioning exercises. Seamanship and navigation classes culminate in a cruise aboard a Navy Yard Patrol Craft. The seminar helps educate, motivate and prepare selected students who are considering application for appointment to the Naval Academy.

If you think that you may be interested in pursuing an appointment to the Naval Academy and serving your country as an officer, you should seriously consider attending the Naval Academy Summer 2015 Seminar.

Apply at the Naval Academy Admission Department website.

Letter to my Former Self: ENS Alexa Ciarolla ('14)

In the "Letter to My Former Self" series, USNA graduates lay out the advice they would give themselves as midshipmen based on their experiences as junior officers in the Navy or Marine Corps. This week's letter was written by ENS Alexa Ciarolla, a 2014 graduate and submariner who is currently attending Power School.

I know that as I write this, second semester is well under way at the Naval Academy. Though right now is traditionally considered the “Dark Ages”, it’s an exciting time for firsties especially - community dinners are taking place, Ship Selection night is right around the corner, people are getting fitted for new Marine Corps uniforms and flight suits, and others are selecting the date in which they will start their careers as officers. In short, the finish line is in sight. For those entering the nuclear community, whether surface or subs, I’ll share some of my experiences and what I learned from them, in the hopes that you can start off with that advice.

ENS Alexa Ciarolla (center) at graduation.

First off, a little about myself - I graduated May 23, 2014, with the greatest class to attend USNA. I was a member of 16th company, and was on the Offshore Sailing Team for four years. I also worked as a member of the Honor Staff for two years. I graduated as a History major with a 3.6 CQPR - decent, but not good enough to ever come close to top 100. It was for this reason that I originally early selected nuke SWO in the spring of my 2/C class - the number of slots for female submariners is limited, and my rank wasn’t high enough to make me competitive enough for one of them. However, I went back my firstie fall and made it known if a submarine spot opened up, I was still very much interested in being a submariner. I got lucky, and I went back for a second interview with ADM Richardson to earn my spot as a submariner. I was TAD with the Offshore Sailing team during the summer after graduation, and reported for preschool (which I was required to do as a Humanities major) in October 2014.

Here’s just a few of things I’ve learned since that happened:

1. Learn how to study as early as possible.

Studying at Nuclear Power School is something of a unique experience. Firstly, everything you study, even if it is basic calculus, is considered confidential. This is to train everyone to get used to handling confidential material. However, as a result, you cannot take any of the material out of the building. To study after school ends - which you must do in order to pass - you must come back to the Rickover Center. Second, there are no personal electronic devices allowed in the building. You cannot bring a phone or a iPod into the building; there are even restrictions on the kind of watch you can wear. Basically, if it transmits a signal or can store information, it is not allowed. In a way, this almost a good thing, since you no longer have distractions like music or texts from friends.

Very quickly, you are expected to find a way to study that maximizes your learning, whether that is to go to quiet study and review note cards, or to work out problems with a group. Your first exam will occur a week after you class up, and it basically asks you to memorize fifty pages verbatim.  Although it is a rough transition at first, you’ll find that you can absorb and retain information much faster than you ever thought possible.

It helps to go in with the right mindset. I remember being a midshipman, and putting in the minimum amount of effort required to do fairly well in classes that I thought didn’t matter. However, I started Power School with the idea that I was a History major who originally didn’t earn a submarine spot. So not only was I worried that I would be technically behind the engineers, but I felt like I had to prove that I earned that spot. I started off working hard and putting in extra hours, and so far it’s worked out really well for me. Even if you’re an engineer about to start Power School, never assume that you know something well because you studied it in college. Usually the material you’re expected to know at Power School is extremely specific, and chances are what you were taught at the Academy is not what they want to see on your exam. Everyone has to work hard to get through Power School, regardless of their background. If you start Power School while keeping that in mind, then you’ll be miles ahead of some of your classmates.

2. Retain what you learned at the Academy

As a former midshipman, I know there’s a tendency to blow off classes that are not well liked, or that you believe you will never use in your community. Ironically, as a nuke, you’ll probably use at least a little bit of every core technical course you took as a midshipmen. If you did forget everything you ever learned in plebe chemistry, calculus, physics, or thermodynamics, you’ll probably be fine, since they usually teach everything at Power School assuming that people don’t have a background in it. However, the pace is so fast that it would massively help to remember those courses and understand them prior to starting here. Some of my classmates here went to universities where taking heat transfer or fluid dynamics was not required, even if they were an engineer. Though I was a Group 3 major and only ever took EM300, that helped tremendously in keeping up with the fast pace and I feel more prepared. Those technical courses can come in handy.

3. Take time off from the job.

At Power School, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the material and spend almost every waking hour at the Rickover Center studying, especially when you have two extremely difficult exams in one week. That makes it doubly important to take time off on the weekend, if only for half a day, and do something you love that relaxes you. Mental issues are not uncommon in the nuclear pipeline, and it is important that you find a way to maintain your sanity. For some people, that means volunteering at an animal shelter, or paddle boarding in Charleston’s many rivers and waterways, or just exploring downtown Charleston. Finding a good balance in Nuclear Power School is important, and will be an important habit for the rest of your time in the pipeline.

4. Reach out to officers from other commissioning sources.

Sometimes after leaving USNA, Academy grads can be a bit clique-y, especially if they are going to a training where there are large amounts of other Academy grads. However, officers from other commissioning sources bring something new to the table. They have different perspectives on the fleet from their experiences, and have different strengths than you might have. In fact, at Power School, there are civilians from the Bettis and Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL) reactors (part of the Bechtel Marine Propulsion) in training alongside you, sharing the same pipeline, so they can go on to design and maintain the Navy reactors. Get to know them. Just like not every Academy grad is an arrogant ring-knocker, not every NROTC grad is overly motivated and not every OCS grad is completely clueless. Look past the stereotypes and you’ll find yourself making good friends.

5. Keep in touch with classmates from other communities.

Just like the children’s song tells us, maintain your old friendships as well. I still talk to friends who went to Flight School in Pensacola, or TBS in Quantico. When you’re sitting there hating the nuclear community because both of your exams that past week were difficult, it can give you some much needed perspective to call up a buddy in Quantico who just got back from a FEX and couldn’t feel his feet the entire week because of the cold. Your friends will help you maintain that much needed balance, and can keep you motivated when all of your Power School classmates are getting cynical and bitter about their jobs.

6. Keep the ultimate goal in mind.

Like I said before, at Power School, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the academics and studying. However, the experience of being an officer on a boat is completely different. Here we’re expected to memorize everything and be able to repeat it back verbatim. Our only responsibility is really to ourselves, and making sure we are prepared to take exams and pass. Your job on the boat is not all the same. In case of a casualty, you’re expected to look up the procedure so that way you’re absolutely sure that you’re not making a mistake. While you are expected to learn a lot in a short amount of time in order to get qualified, you’re also expected to stand whatever watch you’re qualified for and to take care of a division. Leading sailors is the ultimate goal, not being number one in Power School. You still have to be able to interact with your people, and take care of them, and react to crises under pressure. Pure intelligence can only get so far - you still have to lead.

Good luck to the Brigade in your future careers, and especially to the Class of 2015 as you all near Commissioning.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Future SWOs Attend Homeport Night at USNA

The U.S. Naval Academy hosted a “Homeport Night” for the class of 2015’s future Surface Warfare Officers (SWO) in Luce Hall Jan. 21.

Homeport Night was an opportunity for the SWOs on the Yard to share with midshipmen the advantages and opportunities that each of the surface navy ship homeports provide, and to offer advice on where to live, available activities, cost of living, and many other details that the midshipmen may not be thinking about.

Next week on Jan. 29th, USNA will host the annual Ship Selection Night, where approximately 250 midshipmen who are assigned to the surface warfare community will have the opportunity to choose from a variety of available homeports including Mayport, Fla.; Norfolk, Va.; San Diego; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Everett, Wash.; Yokosuka and Sasebo, Japan; Manama, Bahrain; and Rota, Spain.

“Each homeport offers different lifestyle and mission opportunities, and we are able to answer their questions and broaden their view as they choose where to go first,” said Lt. Andrew George Ross Marsh, Seamanship and Navigation instructor at the Naval Academy.

Surface warfare officers and instructors from around the Yard attended Homeport Night, offering advice and answering any and all questions that the midshipmen had about the future of their careers in the Navy and what to expect before they pick their ship.

“The officers who attended provided a lot of good information that the midshipmen don't normally think about,” said Marsh. “Questions like: What is the housing market like in San Diego? How long is the traffic to get on the base?  If I get married, do I qualify for military housing? It gives us the chance to shine a light on new places they may not have considered.”

The goal is to ensure every midshipman picking a ship has made an informed choice based on all of the variables, and it is a unique opportunity for experienced SWOs to provide information and mentorship to the midshipmen before they choose a particular ship and homeport.

“Every homeport is going to provide these new Ensigns with an amazing adventure,” said Marsh. "We are just trying to provide them with guidance and widen their perspective so that they have all the facts when they climb onto that stage to pick their first ship.”

Saturday, January 24, 2015

USNA Receives a Piece of Army-Navy History

The Naval Academy received a piece of history Jan. 21 when Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter accepted an original game poster from the 1983 Army-Navy Game from retired Army Col. Rolfe Arnhym.

The 1983 Army-Navy Game was played in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

It was the first and only time the game was played west of the Mississippi River. All 9,000 Cadets and Midshipmen were in attendance.

“I wanted to give the Academy some memorabilia that was given to me after the Army-Navy game in 1983,” said Arnhym, who served as the EVP/CEO of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and Co-Chair of the Army Navy Foundation in 1983. “A gift to help make a footprint at the academy.”

The moving of the Army-Navy Game from the East Coast to West Coast was no easy task and took a lot of determination, dedication, and solid leadership skills from both academies.

“We had to move all the midshipmen from Annapolis and the Corps of Cadets from West Point to California. It is characterized as one of the largest movements in peacetime history,” said Arnhym. “We had to house them, feed them and be able to conduct a football game, and make sure all the traditional events that go with the game happened.”

What helped pull off the event were the nearly 4,000 host families that took in the midshipmen and cadets.

“I felt overwhelmed with the welcome and enthusiasm on the part of the people in the Los Angeles area and in Pasadena in particular,” said Arnhym. “The fact that close to a million people showed up to watch the Corps of Cadets and the Brigade of Midshipman march from the downtown to the Rose Bowl with very little notice - and those who helped house them while they were here - speaks volumes.”

Arnhym believed that moving the game would increase visibility of the two service academies on the West Coast.

“I felt that the admissions from states like California, Arizona, Texas and those on the west coast had a decrease in interest in the service academies due to lack of visibility, and I wanted to help,” said Arnhym.

The game ended that day in 42-13 win for the midshipmen. It was a great opportunity for people on the West Coast to see, in person, all the rich history and tradition that goes along with football’s greatest rivalry.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Oceanography Major Visits the Southernmost Part of Planet Earth

By CDR William Swick

This year’s Oceanography Department Antarctica Internship, funded by the Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (CNMOC), afforded Midshipman 2/C Alyson Eng the opportunity to observe cutting edge research at one of the most remote environments on earth.

MIDN Eng, joined by Cadet Peter Vonich (USAFA) and Cadet Tanner Ellison (USMA), spent eight days at McMurdo Station, one of three permanent U.S. Antarctic bases. Located on Ross Island in the Ross Sea, McMurdo is home to more than 1,000 personnel during the Antarctic Austral Summer Season (September through March).

Although military activity is prohibited in the Antarctic (Antarctic Treaty of 1959), an exception to the rule allows military ships and aircraft to support scientific research efforts. The 13th Air Force-led Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica, Operation Deep Freeze (ODF), is the U.S. military's support of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Antarctic Program.

Operation Deep Freeze is the name given to operational and logistic support conducted by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Coast Guard since 1955.

While deployed to Antarctica MIDN Eng was able to experience the following:

  • Orca tracking, population and eating behaviors
  • Seal tagging and seal navigation in regards to geomagnetic flux
  • Crevasse detection using synthetic aperture radar, radar pulses and corresponding signal return anomalies
  • Seismic Mapping and Ice Shift analysis
  • Automated weather stations and their relation to climatological data on the continent and forecasting applications
  • Long Duration Balloon (LDB)and its applications to include payloads, cosmic background phenomena, radio telescopes, universe origins, upper atmosphere circulation and super pressure balloons that can suspend payloads indefinitely
  • South Pole Neutrino detection and related astrophysics applications
  • Laser Measurements (LIDAR) analysis of upper atmosphere temperatures, wind and composition
  • Iron-rich water analysis and relation to metabolization of non-organic matter conversion into energy
  • Marine life study of species living in and around McMurdo and Palmer stations

With an annual budget of $6 billion, the NSF is the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally-supported basic research conducted by America's colleges and universities. This internship exposes the Service Academy’s future leaders to a intellectually engaging experience, and each student gained significant exposure to a wide field of academic disciplines, further broadening their operational experience.

If you see MIDN Eng around the Yard to sure to ask her to share her unforgettable sea stories from the land down under.

See more photos from MIDN Eng's trip at the USNA Facebook page.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Behind the Scenes of the 2015 Naval Academy Leadership Conference

By MIDN 1/C Danielle Abad

The Naval Academy Leadership Conference is a midshipmen-planned and executed event that has been around since 1984. Originally, the conference only included senior cadets and midshipmen from each of the service academies, but we got tired of hanging out with just Army and Air Force, so over the years we expanded it to include students from civilian universities as well.

The 2015 midshipmen officer staff began planning the event before the Class of 2014 could even walk across the stage at graduation. The first challenge: Who was going to speak at the conference? After making a list of 100+ names and a rough outline of what they wanted the conference to look like, the 2015 chairman and vice chairman brought their ideas, hopes and dreams to the Dant, seeking his approval.

The next challenge: How would they convince world renowned business and military leaders, basically famous people, to come speak at some midshipmen-run program?  It turns out that “some midshipmen-run program” isn’t all that the 2015 Naval Academy Leadership Conference is to people outside of the brigade. After hearing a lot of, “I would love to, but I am already booked” responses, the team received some yeses, and they were pretty impressive yeses, to say the least.

Keynote and panel speakers this year include military and civilian professionals from companies like Cisco, Pepsi, Pinterest, and Facebook – to name just a few. Prominent speakers include retired Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, publisher of Forbes magazine Rich Karlgaard, and Pentagon Press Secretary Adm. John Kirby.

The not-so-challenging challenge: what universities would want to attend? It turns out that many universities wanted to attend the 2015 Naval Academy Leadership Conference, so many that a waiting list had to be created.

The eight midshipmen officers on the staff had their work cut out for them.  Each midshipmen officer holds a different role in the planning and execution of the Conference.

This year’s conference theme is Leading in an Interconnected World, where the speakers and participants will explore the challenges of being an authentic leader in a world where technology can be beneficial to the leader and follower and yet hinder them at the same time.

Together the midshipmen staff plans and executes more than you will ever see, but that is for them to know and you to see the results for yourselves at the 2015 Naval Academy Leadership Conference beginning Jan. 25.

Learn more about the conference at

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Three Leadership Lessons I Learned while Climbing the Tallest Peak in North America

With the Naval Academy Leadership Conference coming up, we asked some midshipmen to write about the leadership lessons they've learned from their experiences since they came to the academy. Midshipman 2nd Class Dale Lescher writes about her experience during a National Outdoor Leadership School expedition to Denali in Alaska. 

This past summer, the United States Naval Academy expanded their partnership with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in a significant way. The Academy agreed to send the first expedition of Midshipmen to Mt. McKinley (traditionally called Denali) in the Alaska Range.

Standing at 20,237 ft, Denali is the tallest peak in North American and the base-to-peak elevation rise is the largest of any mountain entirely above sea level.

The Midshipmen chosen were alumni of previous NOLS courses, already experienced in the NOLS mission of using the wilderness to teach leadership lessons through practical experience and real consequences. However, my five peers and I underestimated the amount that this mountain could push us as a team (including our three guides) and as leaders.

Coming away from my second NOLS course only reaffirmed my belief that NOLS, as a summer training option, is one of the best leadership tools we as Midshipmen have access to. Although the benefits of NOLS are endless, there are a few lessons I took away from my second NOLS experience that are extremely applicable not only for future military officers, but for anyone seeking to develop their judgment and group leadership skills.

1. Recognize that tensions run high in stressful situations.

While this may seem obvious, it took a considerable amount of effort to not overreact whenever one of my teammates did something that bothered me. At high altitudes, everything is annoying and difficult. We were together every minute of every day for 23 days straight, and my patience definitely wore thin. The team knew that we were all growing frustrated, and we resolved the issue by creating a rule: If someone does something that bothers you, confront it or let it roll off your back.

Mountaineering allowed for long durations of silent reflection. We spent much of the day trudging through snow, spread out in a single-file line. If something bothered me, and I did nothing to change it, it would rile me up throughout the day’s long trek. It was my job to decide whether it was worth it to confront the issue. If not, I needed to learn to let it go and move on with the mission and the task at hand. This rule improved teamwork and cooperation because people were no longer wasting energy holding grudges. Instead, they focused their efforts on the task at hand.

2. Knowing your limits will help your team more than trying to ignore them.

This was a lesson I learned the hard way. As the only female Midshipman on the expedition, I felt the need to prove myself as just as strong as my peers. At the Naval Academy, we are reminded that the strength of the chain is only as strong as the weakest link. I really did not want to be that weak link and viewed as less useful to the team.  As I tried to prevent that label, I ignored what I knew were my strengths and weaknesses. As a cross country runner, I knew I had tons of endurance and mental fortitude, but lacked muscle mass. Regardless, in an attempt to prove myself I volunteered to pull one of the heaviest sleds (in addition to our large packs) on one of the first days of the expedition, a day with more than 1,000 feet of elevation gain.

I should have listened to my body and recognized that it was too much, but I was too concerned with trying to make the team see I was not going to be a burden. I didn’t give my team enough credit; I thought they would be quick to judge me as weak. My mistake actually cost the team time because half way through the day I realized I could no longer pull the sled and the whole team had to stop to reorganize the loads. Towing the heavy sled also injured my hip which plagued me the rest of the trip. If I had been confident in my own abilities and limits, and had understood from the beginning that my unique set of skills were still contribution-worthy to the team, I would not have ignored my strength limitations.

3. Being responsible for your team members’ lives makes you more aware of the risks you are taking.

By far one of the most challenging days on the trip came as we traveled from the camp at 14,200 feet to the camp at 17,200 feet. Not only was it extremely exposed and the weather not cooperating, but for a large section of the trek we were on a knife-edge pass that was no more than two feet wide. The pass was flanked steep, rocky slopes back down to 14,000 feet. Since we were roped up in teams of four, all of us realized that if one of us slipped, our team would be thrown off their feet as well. This is only one example of how NOLS stresses the real-life consequences of your decisions. The responsibility of the safety of my team added perspective to the gravity of the situation, and I could feel the weight of my actions. Each step was carefully chosen and we walked carefully, making it to camp without incident.

I do not simply carry these lessons with me in order to become a better officer; I apply them in every-day scenarios, as well. NOLS helped me learn how to let someone’s annoying habit roll off my back, how to be confident in what I bring to the table in group projects, and how to evaluate what I ask people to do for me and what risks I put in front of them. My NOLS expeditions were the best leadership development experiences I have had, and I plan on going back to Denali again — leading my own expedition.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

USNA Community Relations Director Receives MLK Drum Major Award

U.S. Naval Academy Community Relations Director Miriam Stanicic received the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major Award Jan. 16 at the 27th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award Dinner in Glen Burnie, Md.

The award recognizes local leaders who keep Dr. King’s dream alive through their words, deeds and their extraordinary acts of service and commitment.

Stanicic’s acceptance speech started with a quote from Dr. King, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others," Words that she lives by and imbues in the midshipmen she works with every day.

“I’m fortunate in that I get to see positive community change every day through outreach of the Naval Academy,” said Stanicic. “I am inspired through these midshipmen’s efforts.”

“She is that selfless leader that we teach Midshipmen to be,” said Marine Capt. Kenneth Tarr, Midshipmen Action Group (MAG) officer representative. “She embodies it, embraces it and shows it to everyone around her.”

As the MAG faculty representative and through her leadership, the group performed 25,000 hours of community outreach and collected more than 60,000 pounds of food for the Harvest for the Hungry program in 2014.

“I think MAG is Miriam,” said Tarr. “As her sole job at the academy is community relations, she has taken on MAG and loves everything about it. I don’t think there was a day I have seen Miriam where she hasn’t been happy and excited to be part of this organization.”

Stanicic also works with the Office of Diversity at the Naval Academy and was instrumental in connecting USNA affinity groups to their community-based counterparts in Anne Arundel County, and throughout the entire Baltimore-Washington area.

“She is the link between our office and the midshipmen that we work with, and the surrounding community of Annapolis, Baltimore, and D.C. areas,” said Steve McCartney, USNA Assistant Chief Diversity Officer. “Miriam cares so much about the Midshipmen and the community that she works with. There is a deep personal connection that she has with her work. It is not a job for her, it is so much more."

Additionally, she helped form the Midshipman Diversity Council, which brings together all affinity group brigade leaders from the Academy to share best practices and raise awareness.

“Naval Academy community engagements exemplify dedication to service in its highest forms by creating lasting relationships with all of our neighbors, a dream in keeping with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of building stronger and more equitable communities for all members of our society,” said Stanicic.

Stanicic became the USNA Community Relations Director in 2007. For the past two years, her department has been recognized as the best community relations program for a large shore command throughout the Navy, receiving the Thompson Ravitz Award for this distinction.

Founded in 1988 the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee was designed to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Anne Arundel County.

Monday, January 19, 2015

USNA Hosts Platform Night for Future SWOs

The U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) hosted a “Platform Night” for the class of 2015’s future Surface Warfare Officers (SWO) in Luce Hall, Jan. 14.

Platform Night is an opportunity for the Academy’s future SWOs – first class midshipmen who were service assigned to Surface Warfare - to learn more about the ships and ship classes available to them in advance of the annual Ship Selection Night Jan. 29th.

 “What is particularly important about this event is that it gives midshipmen the opportunity to think through their options prior to having to stand in front of the board and choose a ship,” said Lt. Ashley O'Keefe, a SWO and Flag Aide to the USNA Superintendent. “It allows them to weigh the pros and cons of each platform, and get perspectives from officers who likely just came off of those ships a few months ago.”

Approximately 250 midshipmen were assigned to the surface warfare, and they will have the opportunity to choose from a large variety of available ships including: guided missile cruisers (CG), guided missile destroyers (DDG), amphibious assault ships (LHA)/(LHD), amphibious transport docks (LPD), dock landing ships (LSD), mine countermeasure vessels (MCM), amphibious command ships (LCC), and littoral combat ships (LCS).

Recently re-designated as Fast Frigates (FF) by the Secretary of the Navy at this year’s Surface Navy Association (SNA) Symposium, the littoral combat ships will be available for selection for the midshipmen for just the second year. This is the first year traditional frigates (FFGs) will not be available for selection.

Midshipmen pick their ships in order based on their overall order of merit, or class rank.

Surface warfare officers and instructors from around the Academy yard attended the event, offering advice and answering any and all questions that the midshipmen had about the future of their careers and their platforms. It is a unique opportunity for experienced SWOs to provide information and mentorship to the midshipmen before they choose a particular ship and homeport. The goal is to ensure every midshipman picking a ship has made an informed choice based on all of the variables.

“Platform Night is a special time - it's always an honor for me to be able to discuss the excitement that comes with the Surface Warfare community with the midshipmen,” said CDR Jason J. Brianas, Deputy Director, VADM James B. Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership. “To offer advice, discuss the issues that matter to them, and respond to the focused questions, when they're about to select ships just a few weeks away - it is an incredibly informative period in their career, and we get to do that together.”

“Different ships provide different opportunities, and every midshipman we talked to last night has their own unique desire for their first ship,” said Lt. Andrew Marsh, Seamanship and Navigation Instructor. “I look forward to Homeport Night next week so we can continue to guide and mentor these future SWO ensigns towards the right ship assignment, all leading, of course, to ship selection night. This choice is a major career milestone that they will remember for a very long time.”

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Cooler Water Cooler Comes to USNA

Two Evive Stations are now available to midshipmen.

An Evive Station is kind of like the water fountain of the future. Users buy a reusable stainless steel bottle at the Midshipmen Store. At the machine, they purchase a 1-month, 3-month or 5 month subscription that provides endless refills of water or fruit-infused water.

The machine washes and sanitizes the bottle and cap each time it's refilled, making it a convenient option for college students always on the go.

No one's more on the go than midshipmen. That's why Phillip Allison, deputy director of Naval Academy Business Services, and Eric Lindstrom, executive chef at the Naval Academy Club, instantly thought of bringing the system to the academy when they saw it at a trade show last year.

"Knowing the number of water bottles on campus coupled with the sanitation and green environment, it just seemed like a no-brainer," said Allison.

There are two stations on the Yard, one in Steerage - the Bancroft Hall cafe that caters to midshipmen - and one in the MacDonough Hall cardio room. The machines are here for the semester on a trial basis. If they're popular, the Business Services Division will consider adding more machines around the Yard for the midshipmen, faculty and staff.

"We're going to let the student body tell us where they'd like to see them," said Allison.

The Midshipmen Store held a tasting of the different flavors Jan. 15.

"I think it's really good," said Midshipman 1st Class Brooke Merchant, after getting her own bottle. "It's pretty easy. You just put the bottle in there and follow the directions. It didn't take long, and it cleans it which is nice."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Brigade Commander Encourages Mids to be "All In"

As senior linebacker on the Navy football team and Plebe Summer regimental commander, Midshipman 1st Class Joe Worth has already experienced what it’s like to be in leadership positions. Taking on the role of spring semester brigade commander, he faces his biggest challenge yet in leading 4,500 of his peers.

Worth, of Valrico, Fla., is a mathematics major in the top ten percent of his class in order of merit, the standard by which midshipman are measured according to their academic and professional performance. When he graduates with the Class of 2015 in May, he will receive a commission as a Marine ground officer.

When he first came to the Naval Academy, he was considering several different career paths, but his interaction with Marines on the Yard – especially the officer representatives who worked with the football team – soon swayed his decision, he said.

“I looked at them and said, ‘That’s what I want to be like.’”

Worth credits his experience working with the coaches and football officer representatives for many of the leadership lessons he’s learned at the academy.

“I grew up playing sports, and I love that teamwork and camaraderie,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in the spot I’m in with the lessons I learned without the mentorship from them.”

He also learned a lot about leadership as the Plebe Summer regimental commander in charge of 250 upperclass detailers in training 1,200 new plebes, his first opportunity to practice leadership on a large scale.

The biggest lesson he feels he’s learned is that “everything that you do, there’s constantly someone watching you, and that’s not a bad thing,” he said. “To me, that helped me realize the responsibility we all have as midshipmen and future officers to constantly do our best and strive to lead by example and be the kind of person we want to see everyone else be. I realized that I could make a change in the attitude of others just by the attitude that I brought to the table and the actions I took every day.”

Worth hopes to use that influence to encourage his fellow midshipmen to be “all in.”

He hopes “to get everyone, regardless of what sports they’re playing, what clubs they’re in, what class they’re in, to buy into the Naval Academy. This is a place where you truly get out what you’re willing to put in. We only have four years here to get the most out of it.”

Worth grew up in a military family. Both his parents were naval officers, and his grandfather graduated from the Naval Academy in 1953. His younger brother is in the Class of 2017. He knew he wanted to join the military after college, though he wasn’t initially sure about the academy. His mother made him apply, just in case.

“She knew I’d shown some interest, and she didn’t want me to be in a position where I regretted not filling out the application.”

Once he was accepted and had visited other schools, he said he couldn’t find a reason to believe any of those schools could give him a better opportunity than the academy.

“I have no regrets. I’ve truly enjoyed my time here at the Naval Academy.”

That said, he’s looking forward to moving on to the next thing – The Basic School.

“I’m excited to work with Marines and take on the next challenge,” he said.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Navy Secretary Hosts Newly-Elected Officials at Naval Academy

Twenty-five newly-elected Congressmen visited the Naval Academy Jan. 13th as guests of the Secretary of the Navy for a Navy and Marine Corps orientation and dinner in Dahlgren Hall.

The Congressmen were greeted by top Navy and Marine Corps leadership on the Academy grounds, including Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Gen. Joseph Dunford, Commandant of the Marine Corps and Adm. Michelle Howard, Vice Chief of Naval Operations.

Hosting the elected officials provided the leadership a unique and intimate opportunity to provide basic facts, figures and context about Navy and Marine Corps operations today, requirements and goals and vision for the future.

Secretary Mabus addressed the group at dinner about his priorities of people, platforms, power and partnerships.  He spoke at length about Navy and Marine Corps presence around the world in recent months, including the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) rapid response to launch air strikes against ISIS targets this past fall and Marine Corps missions and accomplishments at home and abroad.

“We are the only global Navy and Marine Corps in the world,” said Secretary Mabus. “We are everywhere we need to be.”

The visit to the Naval Academy included a very brief tour of the Rotunda in Bancroft Hall, the Academy’s dormitory. The members were also treated to a tour of USNA’s Memorial Hall, the Academy’s location for memorializing graduates who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Vice Adm. Ted Carter, the Naval Academy Superintendent, led the tour of the Rotunda and Memorial Hall.

“Hosting members of Congress here is an honor and a fantastic opportunity to talk about what the Naval Academy stands for,” said Carter.  “The men and women of Congress have been elected into leadership roles for our nation. There is commonality between what our country asks of them and what the Navy and Marine Corps asks of our graduates.”

The experience at the Academy provided a new perspective for many of the members who had never been to Annapolis.

Congresswoman Norma Torres (D-CA) was visiting the Academy for the first time on this trip.  She was recently elected to represent California’s 35th district.

“Next year I can talk to young men and women about the nomination process, and speak to them knowing more about the Navy and the Naval Academy,” said Rep. Torres.  “For example, I didn’t realize the biggest dormitory in the world was here.  It’s amazing.”

Monday, January 12, 2015

Learning the Cultural Practices of South Korea

A semester in Korea left two midshipmen baffled in all the right ways. The following excerpts from the personal journals of Midshipmen 2/C Nate Mclauchlan and Ian Shaw highlight their four-month experience.

Hanboks are the traditional dress of Korea. The colorful gowns are still used for cultural events,
most notably the holiday of Chusok.

There was culture shock:

“I was warned about the extreme deference shown to elders here. I have read about it in many sources mentioning the deep Confucian values that prevail into contemporary times. But when I witnessed it first hand, I was at a loss. After a long day of a scavenger hunt all around Seoul, my group was on a subway ride back to the rendezvous point. Accompanying us were a couple of Seoul mates (Seoul natives who volunteer to help us foreigners enjoy our time here) who staffed the day’s activities. We were all abuzz, excitedly speaking of the day's happenings while also making plans for the night. Apparently it is good etiquette to be quiet in the subway, an older man let us know. From his seat (because elders sit before women) he violently waved a rolled up newspaper at one of the Koreans with us. Her reaction was silence and a gyration of movement which was intended to be a rapid series of bows. He went on waving and scolding her. She just took it. The criticism went on for a good two minutes. She apologized profusely and held her head down. All of us Americans quieted in awe. When I asked her later about it, she explained. I was angered. This man had the gall to embarrass a friend of mine and be so rude as to wave and point at her. But I was also frozen during the engagement. This was a culture shock.”

The Joint Security Area is the designated diplomatic location within the
Demilitarized Zone along the 38th parallel.

There was the Demilitarized Zone:

“From main center of Seoul to the southern side of the DMZ was an hour bus ride. Keeping in mind that 9.82 million of the 50.22 million South Koreans live in this spanning metropolis, the situation is just as perilous as that of Jerusalem and Palestine. In a conference room overlooking the DMZ and North Korea beyond, a ROK soldier told us not to worry, their missile interception system (he described it as similar to Israel’s Iron Dome) could shoot down anything the northerners sent our way. About an hour later, when speaking to a U.S. soldier attached to Camp Boniface (UNCOM), he pointed to the mountains a few miles north. 'See those? 80% of the North Korean artillery is just over that ridge, pointed right at Seoul. If they fired a consistent, max-capacity barrage for 8 minutes, Seoul would be flattened without sign of life.” Walking the streets of Seoul, one would never guess that desolation is only ever 8 minutes away. Subway stations are equipped with gas masks and sustenance supplies. So the people are not kept up at night, but the North is obviously a concern of officials running the city.”

There were Korean cadets:

“During a visit to the university track for a few laps, I was kept company by the drilling ROTC units on the infield. It is interesting to keep in mind that though these men volunteered to enter this program, they were required to serve anyway. When other male students cross the field and track as a sort of shortcut to the science building, they do not look at the uniformed men with curiosity but rather a chuckle or complete disregard. On a personal note, after a few laps one of the officers in charge threw me a smile and a thumbs up for my efforts. Quite possibly the most motivating experience since Plebe Summer Braveheart runs. Also, this was one of my first interactions with a foreign, allied military. Though small, I will not soon forget it.”

South Korea has 21 national parks in the country roughly the size of the state of Indiana.
The mountainous terrain is beautiful and littered with waterfalls.

There was the city seen from the mountains:

“Walking on the ridge along the old fortress wall, we reached our intended vista by 1200. The view was breathtaking, reminding me of the hike behind Yonsei campus earlier this semester. With snow on the ground and the wind howling in our ears, Seoul embodied a more arctic elvish city than it did in August, but Rivendell–esque nonetheless. The buildings sprawl, struggling for space as they challenge the littered mountains for land viability. Sprouting vertical at rapid pace and teeming with energy, Seoul appears to be a concrete chia pet watered by the dynamism of its citizenry.”

Immersion in the beautiful Republic of Korea was a professionally eye-opening and personally engaging experience. Midshipmenn 2/C Mclauchlan and Shaw are most grateful for their time spent on the peninsula and both hope to return in the future in and out of uniform.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

USNA's Summer STEM Program Accepting Applications

By LT Teng K. Ooi and CAPT Linda J. Beltra

Applications for the 2015 Naval Academy Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Summer Program are open. The application can be accessed at

Session dates include June 1-6 for rising 9th graders; June 8-13 for rising 10th graders; and June 15-19 for rising 11th graders.

This annual summer program is designed to expose young people to STEM concepts and technologies and to encourage 9th-11th graders to pursue a course of study in engineering and technology throughout high school, college and beyond.

The aim is to integrate STEM-focused concepts across the curriculum and pave the way for students to succeed academically in mathematics and science and help put them on a path towards successful STEM careers. An effective and practical way to stimulate student interest in STEM is to show how mathematics and science are applied to create exciting technologies.

The 2015 STEM program will showcase the latest in technological advances in a wide variety of science and engineering topics to include energy and light, infrastructure, transportation, cybersecurity, environmental challenges, flight and fluids, automation, simulation and modeling, biometrics and robotics.

Students will participate in project-based modules using a hands-on, real-world approach to solving design and analysis problems at the Naval Academy’s world-class laboratory facilities. This unique learning environment promotes engineering “habits of mind” such as critical thinking, optimization, innovation, creativity, and team work. It exposes students to a problem-based environment outside the traditional classroom.

The 2015 Summer STEM Program is a great start to a student’s career in science and engineering.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Superintendent's Q&A with the San Diego Tribune

Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Walter E. “Ted” Carter sat down with the San Diego Tribune’s Editorial Board while in town for the Poinsettia Bowl game to talk about the academy. These are some of the highlights from their conversation.

Carter: I wanted to give you a snapshot of what’s happening at the Naval Academy. What’s different with the generation of young men and women that are coming in now and why it’s so important for us to pay attention to this generation of young people who are going to do big things for us in the future. The Naval Academy started in 1845. It’s a service academy that’s really deep in tradition. But it’s evolved over the years. 1976 was the first year (women) entered as plebes. I showed up in ’77 so I was there for the first graduating class of ’80. We brought in 100 women in ’76 and 100 women in my class. Both graduated about 55 to 58 percent. And we’ve evolved.

Q: What was the role of women in the Navy at that point? A lot different from it is today?

A: Significantly different. We said we want to integrate women into the Navy, but when they graduated they were all put into noncombat roles, restricted line communities. Interestingly enough that first class, the class of ’80, had one of the highest retention figures of any women getting to the rank of captain. Just showed the resiliency of that one particular class who survived those four years. But we’ve come a long way. In the class of 2018, over 25 percent of the class is women. That’s about 300 out of about 1,191 freshman.

Today, at the Naval Academy, we have about 4,500 midshipmen there. We produce about 30 percent of the ensigns in the Navy every year. We graduate about 800 that go into the Navy. For the Marine Corps side, 250 to 270 second lieutenants in the Marine Corps. We are producing the leaders that are going to be of consequence and character.

The competition to get in is incredibly tough. The Naval Academy is listed at the top in terms of being the most selective of all schools across the country. Not just the service academies. Out of any school that produces more than 100 graduates, we have the number one graduation rate in the country. That’s pretty remarkable when you think these kids are signing up to serve in the Navy and the Marine Corps.

Our focus is to prepare these young men and women morally, mentally and physically so they can go on and serve a career in the naval service. But there’s a part of our mission statement that is a little different from everybody else. It talks about developing mind and character, to seek the highest levels of responsibilities in command, citizenship and government. We’re not just developing leaders for the Navy and Marine Corps; we’re talking about the future and beyond – CEOs of corporate America, congressmen and senators – and because we focus on a physical mission, we’re very much involved in our athletics. There are only two universities in the country that can say they had a president of the United States, a Heisman Trophy winner and a Naismith Trophy winner (kind of the Heisman for basketball ). The Naval Academy and Michigan. It shows the quality of not just the athletes but the great people that we have at the Naval Academy.

Q: What’s the typical trajectory for these people? Do they tend to stay in the Navy for a 20-year run?

A: It varies a little bit. Currently, the men are staying at a higher rate than women. When you look across the history of the Naval Academy, the numbers are pretty staggering. We’re the number one producer of astronauts for NASA over its history. We’ve had 53 astronauts come out of the Naval Academy. We’ve had 23 congressional leaders in the Senate and the House, 73 Medal of Honor winners. I don’t have numbers for how many corporate leaders we’ve had, but I would tell you that we’ve got to be in the top 10 in the country just based on what I see and the landscape today, who is leading corporate America.

Q: You placed a high emphasis in your remarks on character. It leads to a natural question in that one of the hottest topics, both in the military these days as well as nonmilitary colleges, is sexual assault and harassment. How are you dealing with that issue?

A: Last year, when I was at the War College, I wrote a paper for the secretary and the CNO called “The Ethics in the Navy.” We were struggling with what is it that causes seniors and others to make bad decisions. We made some recommendations that should change the way we’re teaching and educating everyone, from the most junior sailors up to the admirals, as to how to think about ethics.
It’s not just about what is legally right and wrong to do. It’s about understanding, about the decisions that you make often below some imaginary red line have consequences. And if the compass that is moral is not checked often enough, you’re likely to get out of calibration and stay there. The program at the Naval Academy when it comes to character development is not broken, but I think we can still do better. I have three priorities going forward into the future. Character development is number one, because if we can spend the right amount of time and get whatever biases these young people come in with corrected so they understand the consequences of their actions, all of the rest of this chain of bad behavior – some people call it the continuum of harm – that lead to these kind of destructive behaviors have a better chance of being corrected.

Q: How much is sports emphasized at the academy?

A: One in three midshipmen are competing at the Division One varsity level and 42 percent of the women at the Naval Academy are competing at the Division One level. We’re number three in the country for Division One sports programs, behind Stanford and Ohio State. Ohio State has 39 Division One sports programs, 20 women, 19 men. I’ve got 18 men’s sports programs and 15 women’s programs. Their student body of undergraduates is 53,500, mine is 4,500. And we’re not just playing at Division One. We have a 65% win percentage. The talent of athlete that we have there is tremendous.

Q: Let me ask you an uncomfortable question on this topic. There’s some thinking in aaval officer circles about why the service academies even compete at the Division One level. The job of the service academies is to prepare people to be ship drivers and why are you spending your time and energy on producing athletes who compete at that national level?

A: If it was up to me, I would have every midshipmen competing at the Division One level. What I want for the future is people that understand what it’s like to be on a friendly field, where competition matters.Wwhen they get into the toughest decision making they have to do – whether it be at sea, under the water, in the air – those that understand the concept of team sports that are played at the top level do incredibly well.

Q: The fact is not everybody who (can get) in the Naval Academy can compete at that level. That’s just a different level of athleticism. So that means you have to recruit people to be your football stars and your stars. When that position in the Academy could go to somebody who was a little more brainy, less brawny.

A: I have a cross section of all that now. That said, I have a physical mission that I have to sustain. I need people who have an understanding of physical fitness for life, so they can sustain themselves, and be leaders of consequence. Ninety percent of the freshman class had varsity letters on their record. This is the class of 2018. Sixty-seven percent of them were team captains. So they were leaders within their prep or high school programs.

I played ice hockey all four years at the Naval Academy. We weren’t Division One, we were a high-end club sport. I would tell you, in all seriousness, everything that I did that was successful in combat, I learned playing ice hockey. I’m a nuclear engineer. I’ve got degrees, I’ve taught at the War College. I still go back to what I’ve learned on the ice in terms of understanding the human spirit. Understanding what it takes to take care of your wingmen. To understand what it takes it win. And if you don’t have that in athletics, I don’t care how smart you are, that’s not going to get it done.

I could tell you story after story of having Navy football players who were linebackers in my squadron who had the best success rate in combat. So when people say why do you have athletes? I say, when I look at who is going to win and sustain our nation’s future I want a Naval Academy graduate. I want somebody that played a team sport. And I want somebody that’s academically smart, and thank God I’m able to get all three of those with the Naval Academy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

First Snow on the Yard!

Photo by MIDN 2/C Max Goldwasser

Photo by MCC Anthony Koch

Photo by MCC Anthony Koch

Photo by MCC Anthony Koch

Photo by MIDN 1/C Alec Bacon

Photo by MIDN 1/C Alec Bacon