Friday, July 31, 2015

Photo of the Week: Chilean Naval Academy Exchange

Four midshipmen are participating in a semester exchange at the Chilean Naval Academy “Arturo Prat”: Midshipman 1/C Jarred Gillie, 2/C Ben Olson, 2/C Gabriel Larios and 2/C Nicole Hadler.

This exchange began in 2007, and USNA will host four midshipmen from Chile during the fall semester.

The photo of the week is of Midshipman 2/C Nicole Hadler who recently represented the Chilean Naval Academy at their annual Armed Forces track meet where she came in first in one of the long distance running events. According to our midshipmen, this track meet was the equivalent of the Army-Navy football rivalry experience in the United States.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mids Travel to East Timor and Australia

The road up the side of the mountain was only one lane wide and dirt-covered, but Midshipmen 1/C Kayla Coleman, Rylan Tuohy, Max Wiechec, Midshipman 2/C Lauren Webb, and LT Jon Angle were excited for the five hour journey ahead to Mt. Ramelau in the Ainaro district of Timor-Leste.

As the sun set while they drove higher into the mountains, they pulled over to take photographs of the scenic view. Stopping on the side of the road, their Toyota Landcruiser almost dwarfed the small, modest tin-roofed shack beside them. As they grabbed pictures, four children ran out in curiosity.

Noticing the midshipmen’s cameras, one of the small boys walked closer and pointed. Tuohy put up his camera to take a photo when the boy started laughing and shyly pointed to Coleman and Webb – he wanted his photo with the two ladies.

“Language has no boundaries,” said Webb, after arriving from a three-week language and culture immersion trip to Timor-Leste and Australia. “He didn’t speak any English, but he wanted a photo with us and no language barrier was going to stop him!”

In Timor-Leste, there are over twenty-seven different dialects for a population of only 1.1 million people. Having recently gained its independence from Indonesia in 2002, it is a growing country with many challenges. The group of four midshipmen who traveled there shared a goal of understanding those challenges as they spent five days in the country.

LT Jon Angle, a Civil Engineering Corps officer and instructor at the Naval Academy, wanted the midshipmen to get a real understanding of what a third-world country is like and the challenges that developing nations experience. Stationed in Timor-Leste from 2010 through 2011, LT Angle helped construct community centers, schools, and health clinics as part of a humanitarian aid mission in the region.

“In the five years I have been connected to Timor-Leste, there have been a lot of infrastructure improvements," he said. "Their biggest hurdle going forward will be what their economy will be sustained on once their oil reserves run out in ten years and the leadership transition from revolutionary leadership to an established democratic system.”

The four midshipmen saw these exact challenges. As their Landcruiser kept traveling on the foggy and pot-holed mountain roads to Mt. Ramelau, they observed the handful of bridges and storm-water management systems being installed. Yet, they also saw their driver (because they weren’t allowed to drive in the country) struggle to communicate with villagers as they stopped because of their different dialect.

Perhaps U.S. Army Maj John C. Lee, Senior Defense Official at the Embassy in Timor-Leste, said it best: “Timor-Leste is beautiful, but rough.”

The midshipmen’s five-day stop in Timor-Leste was only one of many stops in the South Pacific region. The group also travelled to Brisbane, Darwin, Melbourne, Launceston, Canberra, and Sydney, with a mission emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and cultural cooperation with the Australian Defense Force. This trip is a part of the Naval Academy’s larger goal of exposing midshipmen to the world in which they will serve as future naval and Marine Corps officers.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

USNA Names Buchanan House Dining Room in Honor of Admiral Charles Larson

The Naval Academy named the dining room of Buchanan House, the Superintendent's home, in honor of Admiral Charles Larson during a dedication ceremony July 27.

With members of Admiral Larson's family looking on - including children and grandchildren - his wife Sally Larson cut the ribbon along with USNA Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter.

Photo by Gin Kai

Admiral Larson, who passed away July 26, 2014, was among the most accomplished and influential superintendents in the 169-year history of the Naval Academy, serving in the position twice: from 1983-1986, and again from 1994-1998.

His accomplishments were numerous, including the establishment of the framework with the Naval Academy Alumni Association for USNA’s largest-to-date public/private funding venture which led to the construction of the Brigade Activities Center, now known as Alumni Hall.  He directed the Naval Academy’s 150-year anniversary celebration, and led the effort to build the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center.

Photo by Mr. Gin Kai

Admiral Larson also recognized the need for, and enabled the eventual establishment of, what is now the Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership.  Among his greatest initiatives was the establishment of the Naval Academy’s Character Development Division immediately upon returning to USNA for his second tour as superintendent.  His strong emphasis on providing character and honor instruction to the brigade was instrumental in leading USNA back from a challenging time in the Academy’s history, both restoring public confidence and repairing the Academy’s reputation and credibility.

At a ceremony in the fall, the Naval Academy will also rename the Administration Building “Larson Hall” in his honor.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

USNA Grad Selected to Direct Navy Nuclear Propulsion

Congratulations to 1981 USNA graduate Vice Adm. James F. Caldwell, Jr.!

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced yesterday that the president has nominated Vice Adm. Caldwell for appointment to the rank of admiral and for assignment as director for Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.

Caldwell will be the 7th director of the program since its establishment in 1949. Of those seven, all but one have been USNA graduates.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

You Don't Have to Be An Admiral: Brian Isaac (USNA '06)

In a new blog series entitled "You Don't Have to Be an Admiral," we will feature Naval Academy graduates who have, after their military service, gone on to excel in civilian careers - in all areas of command, citizenship and government.

Our first featured graduate is Brian Isaac, who commissioned in 2006 into the U.S. Marine Corps. Due to a knee injury, he was medically discharged in 2008. Since then, he has gone back to school to earn bachelor's and master's degrees in music education.

Isaac recently created the Church Circle Singers, a professional chorale in Annapolis. Read more about Isaac's career and new venture in a recent story published in the Annapolis Capital Gazette.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Return to my Mother’s Homeland: A Midshipman’s Experience in Vietnam

By MIDN 1/C Sarah Howard
(All photos courtesy of MIDN Howard)

For years, I have yearned to visit my mother’s homeland, Vietnam. She fled Saigon during the collapse of the war, with only a pair of shoes and a change of clothes. That was 1975.

This is 2015. And I am back ... for the first time.

I am a product of the war, a child raised by a Vietnamese mother and an American father. I dreamed of going to Vietnam, being in a tropical jungle, picking fresh fruit off the trees, and sitting under the shade. I thought women would be dressed in vibrant traditional clothing, and families would be gathered around each other playing cards and drinking tea.

That is not what I saw.

The weather was extremely humid. Sweat dripped off every inch of my body. My eyebrows furrowed under the hot sun, trying to take in everything around me. Families whizzed by on motorcycles, and the streets were crowded with congestion. The air was polluted, and the roads were dusty. The language sounded familiar but I could not understand it. I was a stranger. Yet I felt like I should not have been a stranger. After all, I had grown up learning about it.

I had learned about it, but at the same time, I was shielded from it. My childhood was filled with making trips to my grandpa’s house to make cookies or playing with dolls with my sisters, not memories of war. I had read a lot about the war but never fully understood it. But as you know, reading and experiencing are two completely different things.

In Vietnam, the people wake up early and go to bed late. Their skin is leathered from being under the hot sun. In the city, the buildings are old and tattered. In the country, the houses are small and humble. People struggle to make a living, and poverty abounds. Walking down the street, I grip tightly onto my belongings in fear of losing them. Was this what I expected? No.

We visited what remains from the war. We visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, an underground system used by the North Vietnamese during the war. We crawled in the tunnels, and my 5’4” frame could hardly fit. When I arose from the end of the tunnel, trees and bushes surrounded me. Where was I? The booby traps were difficult to identify and terrifying at the least. I couldn’t believe that people would go to such great measures to kill.

We visited the "Hanoi Hilton,” the prison where American prisoners of war were tortured. I was expecting a stone building with large barbed-wire fences. Instead it was remodeled and called the Hanoi Towers, a business center. A small part of the building was preserved for visitors, but it seemed like someone was trying to erase the war. There were pictures of Americans playing basketball and celebrating Christmas, but that was not what actually occurred.

I took some time to look at Senator John McCain’s flight suit and belongings. They were trapped in a glass case, a fragment of the war. I read the caption below and was humbled by his act of forgiveness. He came back to Vietnam years later to build relations and make peace. I don’t know if I could do that.

We visited Hamburger Hill, on Ap Hia mountain. I could not believe what I saw. The mountains were rugged, and the trees were high. The hill was so steep, I found myself catching my breath. In my peripheral vision, I could hardly make out what was one foot to the right and left of me. The jungle was that thick. The bugs were unusually large there, biting me as I trekked up the hill. I could not imagine what it would be like to be dropped off there, with little experience and the enemy in the thicket. The courage of the men who died and fought there is truly remarkable.

At the top of the hill, we had a moment of silence. A moment of silence for those who served and those who died. A moment of silence for those who were prisoners of wars and those who never returned. All those people who made it possible for me to be standing on that hill, nearly 46 years later.

As we trekked down the hill, I thought to myself, “Vietnam is not what I expected.” It is a country broken by war, and struggling to rebuild itself. I wanted to call my mother to tell her what I saw. I wanted to let her know that I understood her now. I wanted to apologize for getting upset about little things, or getting frustrated about riding the bus to school, and packing lunch instead of buying it from the school cafeteria. What I had failed to see all those years is that she tried to give me the best she had ... after losing everything.

At the end of the trip, I came to a couple conclusions. Life is not what we expect. War is not what we expect and takes years to recover from. We owe a thank you to all the Vietnam Veterans who served, those who have served in the years afterward, and those who are continuing to serve. Without their sacrifices, I wouldn’t be able to write this story.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Experiencing a Different Culture in Mongolia

By Midshipman 2nd Class Audrey Channell

As the most sparsely populated country on the planet, Mongolia’s vast steppe and overwhelming immensity has intrigued the outside world for centuries. Heavily influenced by both the Soviets and Chinese, Mongolia is now a melting pot for democracy as it continues to develop and identify itself in the world stage.

Led by Dr. Joe Thomas, six midshipmen were given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the Mongolian culture firsthand on a two-week Language Proficiency, Regional Expertise, and Cultural Awarenss (LREC) trip to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. With an emphasis on the idea of “cross-cultural competency,” activities revolved around exploring traditional nomadic elements, the widely diverse landscape, the religious history, and the rise of the Mongolian empire.

While canoeing down the Terelj River for three days, two aspects of Mongolian culture became clear: the importance of family and the importance of simplicity in being truly happy. Camped on the side of the river were dozens of families, celebrating the warm weather and being together. While the children splashed and played in the river either naked or in a ratty old t-shirt, their joy was infectious. Unlike much of the Western world, the Mongolians don’t take a family vacation to a fancy resort or an exotic destination. They set up a few tents by the river and have an absolute blast with what they have.

This trend continued as the expedition continued to the steppe North of the Gobi Desert, visiting local towns and nomadic families. Living in a ger (a small, portable, tent-like home used by a majority of the Mongolian population), privacy isn’t an option. Families are forced to live in close quarters, owning just what is necessary to run a household. Although these conditions sound like a recipe for disaster to a typical Westerner, it seemed that the Mongolians couldn’t be happier or more grateful for their way of life.

A continual challenge encountered on the expedition was the obvious language barrier between the Mongols and Americans. Although verbal communication was limited on both ends, we soon learned that the power of body language, facial expressions, and hand gestures transcends all cultures and languages. It became clear that the simple act of saying “hello” or “thank you” - in broken Mongolian - was a path into their life, and a way into discovering the hospitality and warmth of the Mongolian people.

Although all midshipmen take history courses on different cultures as well as leadership courses examining the development of society, these lessons are never fully learned until experienced. This LREC  was the ultimate test into converting the abstract ideas learned in class into concrete experience and reflection. This is how learning truly occurs.

Find more photos on the Naval Academy Flickr page.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Midshipmen Complete Summer Internship at NAVSSESS

By Joseph Battista, NAVSSES Public Affairs

Midshipmen 1st Class Montana Geimer and Steven Dull got a head start on their capstone senior design project while interning at Naval Ship Systems Engineering Station (NAVSSES) this summer.

They built a reduced-scale demonstrator of a Hybrid Energy Storage Module (HESM) to develop, implement and validate various advanced energy management and electrical power control schemes.

Photo by Joseph Battista

Geimer, from Annapolis, Maryland, and Dull, from Dayton, Ohio, are both electrical engineering majors eyeing different career paths. Geimer wants to serve  on submarines while Dull is thinking about becoming a naval aviator, but both saw an opportunity to expand their classroom knowledge by doing their mandated one month of summer professional training at NAVSSES.

The internship involved building a tabletop demonstrator of a HESM to investigate the design and performance of this potentially important component in future Navy power systems. The HESM will store energy until needed to operate advanced weapon systems such as a railgun, high powered radar, or lasers and to optimize power quality, continuity and stability across various shipboard architectures.

During their four weeks at NAVSSES, Geimer and Dull worked with Dr. Qing Dong and Stepfanie Veiga, electrical engineers with Automation and Controls Research and Development Branch and Machinery Technology Research and Development Branch, respectively.  According to Veiga, who oversaw most of their daily work, they completed the hardware build and were in the process of developing their own software simulations when their internship ended July 17.

“You can see how much they accomplished in just four weeks,” said Veiga, referring to the working hardware built on a 3-foot by 3-foot piece of electrical insulation board. “They’ll be able take this back to the Naval Academy and continue working on their capstone project during the school year by expanding and validating models using the installed hardware and real-time controller.”

Photo by Joseph Battista

Both midshipmen toured NAVSSES on field trips earlier this year and jumped at the opportunity to intern at the Navy’s principal test and evaluation facility for all naval machinery, which includes shipboard propulsion, power, auxiliary, and deck machinery, as well as hull outfitting, habitability, and the mechanical systems associated submarine sail and antenna systems.

“We’d both been here before on a tour, but I never realized what went into putting together the inner workings of a ship until I started working here,” said Geimer. “Seeing all the design work and testing they do is amazing. There are not a lot of people working here, but they do a lot.”

The field trips were organized by one of their instructors, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department assistant professor Cmdr. John Stevens. Stevens is an engineering duty officer who worked on the DDG 1000 land based test site at NAVSSES and was recently selected as a Permanent Military Professor at the Naval Academy.

Photo by Joseph Battista

“Being an electrical engineering student made coming to NAVSSES a logical choice,” said Dull. “I wanted to learn about how the power on DDG 1000 is distributed to the various ship systems. We really didn’t know anything about the HESM prior to coming here, but there are great people working here with an incredible knowledge base who helped us.”

Geimer and Dull did get to explore Philadelphia despite their limited free time – visiting many of the historical sites and museums, as well as a few of the more popular places to try a Philadelphia cheesesteak.

They will resume working on their capstone senior design project in the fall, after concluding their final summer requirement – fleet training. After leaving NAVSSES, Geimer went to Groton, Connecticut to work on submarines, and Dull traveled to San Diego to learn about Naval Special Warfare at Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado.

Stevens worked with Dr. E. Michael Golda, NAVSSES’ chief technologist, to establish the internship opportunity. Golda and Stevens, both Naval Academy graduates, see summer internships at NAVSSES as an opportunity for midshipmen to gain valuable hands-on learning that applies directly to their academic major while also getting to see first-hand what goes into developing and maintaining the machinery systems on Navy ships.

The Naval Ship Systems Engineering Station in Philadelphia is the Navy's principal test and evaluation station and in-service engineering agent for all hull, mechanical and electrical ship systems and equipment and has the capability to test and engineer the full range of shipboard systems and equipment from full-scale propulsion systems to digital controls and electric power systems.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Midshipman Train On Board Coast Guard Tall Ship

PA1 Pam Boehland, U.S. Coast Guard

In a sea of solid blue Coast Guard operational uniforms, the 13 Navy midshipmen in their digital camouflage and eight-pointed covers stand out. The midshipmen are going into their second or youngster year at the U.S. Naval Academy and are sailing aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Barque Eagle, a tall ship that has been training future officers since 1946.

Every summer, Eagle and its crew of about 50 officers and enlisted members set sail to train cadets from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. This year, more than 240 rising sophomores and seniors experienced hands-on training in damage control and engineering and were taught celestial navigation, line handling and seamanship.

Photo courtesy of Coast Guard Barque Eagle

Additionally, the hard work and physical power it takes to operate the tall ship builds camaraderie and develops leaders. Despite the different uniforms and different academies, the Navy midshipmen are learning all the same skills as their Coast Guard counterparts while they train to be sea-going officers for the United States military.

This is the fifth summer that midshipmen have sailed with Eagle, and the Navy plans to do so again next year.

“I love it,” said Midshipman 3rd Class Joseph Brugger, a 19-year-old Pittsburgh native, who seized on the opportunity to sail on Eagle as part of his summer professional development. He says he has always dreamed of going to the Naval Academy but has enjoyed his time on Eagle.

“I love being on the water, being out to sea, setting sails, and the heaving and hoeing to get the sails in place,” he said.

He is gaining sea stories along with experience. He recalled a time when the alarm for emergency sail stations rang out early one Sunday morning. The entire crew was roused from their racks, and Brugger climbed the rigging to help furl the sails before the 30-knot winds could rip them to pieces.

Photo courtesy of Coast Guard Barque Eagle

“With all of the elements rolling in, it was pretty awesome,” he said. “The boat was heeled over, and I looked over my shoulder thinking, ‘Wow, if I wasn’t strapped in, I would fall right into the water.’”

For most cadets, sailing aboard Eagle is very mentally and physically demanding. The cadets have to balance their time and obtain qualifications to prepare them for the fleet. They spend hours training, standing lookout watch on the forecastle and navigating on the exposed bridge. They act as helmsmen on the three-wheeled large wooden helms, manage cleanup duties, and serve in the galley as mess cooks, cleaning and prepping meals for the more than 200 people.

Photo courtesy of Coast Guard Barque Eagle

“I don’t want to be on my hands and knees scrubbing the mess deck floor. I will be very happy if I never have to do that again,” said Brugger of mess cooking.

However, he recognizes that it is all a part of the training and hopes it makes him a better officer.

“I have learned so much so fast,” said Midshipman 3rd Class Theresa Erbach, from Huntsville, Ala. She said she did not know much about the Coast Guard or sailing before she came to Eagle. However, for her, this experience is about building lifelong friendships as well as training.

“It’s been really great,” she said. “My whole berthing area had a bonding experience last night when we were sharing stories about our childhood.”

This partnership between the Navy and Coast Guard is a small example of a greater relationship that exists between these two naval services. During times of war, the Navy can incorporate the Coast Guard, and during peace, the two services often work together to carry out shared missions. The firefighting and flooding training the midshipmen received will transfer over to their Navy careers, and the networking opportunities will expand their horizons.

“Any Coast Guard officer who has gone through the academy, if I ever meet them and I didn’t know them, we could talk about the Eagle,” said Brugger. “It is something that is going to stick with me for the rest of my life.”

Reciprocally, Coast Guard cadets participate in Navy training programs.

“We see the same exchange of training in USNA's summer Yard Patrol Craft program, where this year we had one USCGA cadet participating. As long as there is the ability to do so, we want to take the opportunity to foster this relationship in our future leaders,” said Lt. Timothy Bonner, training officer at the USNA.

The Eagle is a training ship dedicated to turning aspiring officers into strong leaders. The physical and mental demands of the tall ship forge strong bonds between the sailors, creating lifelong shipmates, no matter the service.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Plebe Parade Schedule Now Available

The Plebe Formal Parade schedule is now available.

Event Date Time Location
Plebe Formal Parade July 17 9:30 a.m. Worden Field
Plebe Formal Parade July 24 9:30 a.m. Worden Field
Plebe Formal Parade August 7 9:30 a.m. Worden Field
Plebe Formal Parade August 15 9:30 a.m. Worden Field
Plebe Formal Parade August 20 5:00 p.m. Worden Field

All of these parades are open to the public. The parade Aug. 15 is in conjunction with Plebe Parent’s Weekend, Aug. 13-16.  Other Plebe Parent’s Weekend events are not open to the public.

The Aug. 20 parade is the “Turnover Parade,” where the Plebe Summer midshipman leadership turns the plebes over to the Brigade of Midshipmen leadership. This event truly marks the end of Plebe Summer.

Parades are a visual presentation of the military discipline, professionalism and teamwork necessary to succeed as a member of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, and have been a part of Naval Academy training since its establishment in 1845.

The Fourth Class Regiment (plebe class) marches from Bancroft Hall to the Naval Academy parade field, Worden Field, accompanied by the Naval Academy Band and the Plebe Drum & Bugle Corps. On Worden Field the regiment performs the manual of arms, renders honors to the senior officer or civilian dignitary present, and passes in review before the official party and guests.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Great Week for USNA Astronauts!

Former Navy SEAL and astronaut CAPT Chris Cassidy (USNA '93) was recently selected to be the next chief of NASA's Astronaut Office, the most senior position for still-active astronauts in NASA. Read more about Cassidy on the NASA website.

Additionally, CAPT Sunita Williams (USNA '87) was one of four astronauts selected to train for commercial space flight. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden (USNA '68) writes more about the commercial crew initiative and the astronauts selected on the NASA blog.

CAPT Chris Cassidy and CAPT Sunita Williams both spoke to
midshipmen earlier this year during the USNA Astronaut Convocation.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

USNA Superintendent and Staff March in 4th of July Parade

USNA Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter and his wife Lynda
ride through Annapolis in the 4th of July parade. (Photo
by MC2 Jonathan Correa)

Find more photos at the Naval Academy Flickr site.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Induction Day An Emotional Experience For Plebe Parents

For the parents of the incoming Class of 2019, dropping their sons and daughters off at the U.S. Naval Academy’s Induction Day July 1 was an especially emotional experience.

“It's something my daughter has wanted for a very long time,” said Andrew Bowen. “But watching her walk through that gate and into Alumni Hall – it got my attention.”

Photo by Gin Kai

 I-Day marks the beginning of Plebe Summer, a physically and mentally demanding six-week indoctrination period designed to transition civilian students to military life.

“Today’s a day of transformation,” said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter during the parents’ briefing. “They showed up as boys and girls, but in the course of about 12 hours today, we're transforming them into not only midshipmen but young men and women. You will see a change after they take the oath today.”

After the Oath of Office, the plebes met briefly with their families – the last time they’ll see them until Plebe Parents Weekend Aug. 13-16.

Photo by MC2 Nathan Wilkes

During that six-week period, new plebes have little opportunity to speak with family and friends back home. They don’t have access to computers and can phone home only three times throughout the summer for 30 minutes at a time. Most of their communication home is done through written letters.

The concept of Plebe Summer is “positive pressure with a purpose.” It’s necessary for the new plebes to be tested, to learn how to work together and depend on each other to succeed in an intense environment.

Photo by MC2 Nathan Wilkes

“We're not talking about just developing leaders for the Navy and Marine Corps. We're talking about developing leaders for our nation,” said Carter, who recalled his own induction day 38 years ago, when he arrived at the Naval Academy for the first time.

“I was scared to death,” he said. But he remembers every minute of his induction day ceremony. “Rest assured, this is the first exciting day of many to come.”

Through the tears of parting and the anticipation of seeing their children transitioning to adults, there is also a great deal of pride in what they’ve accomplished so far.

Photo by MC2 Nathan Wilkes

“We’re very proud and excited for him,” said James Comford about his son Austin. “Obviously there are a lot of emotions today but they are all good emotions. It’s his dream, and he is living it.”

"I can see him as he came in as a boy, and it seems like already I'm talking to a man," said Ron Collier about his grandson. "I see him facing the challenges. And I appreciate the fact that they have a plan to take this young man and mold him ... to be the leader he needs to be."

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

U.S. Naval Academy Welcomes Class of 2019

The U.S. Naval Academy welcomed the incoming Class of 2019 in Annapolis July 1.

1,192 men and women arrived at the academy for Induction Day, more commonly known as I-Day, the beginning of the arduous six-week indoctrination period called Plebe Summer. 

Photo by Gin Kai

The new class includes 325 women - 27 percent of the incoming class. This represents the largest number of women to be inducted into the Naval Academy.

Among the new plebes are 12 international students from 10 countries: Albania, Cambodia, Georgia, Malaysia, Montenegro, Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey. 

Sixty-one new plebes are prior-enlisted, including 50 Navy sailors and 11 Marines.

Photo by Gin Kai

During I-Day, the plebes receive uniforms and military haircuts, undergo medical evaluations, learn to render a salute, and complete their registration. 

They each receive a copy of "Reef Points," a 225-page handbook of information about the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, the Naval Academy's history and traditions, their administrative chain of command, and the general orders of a sentry. New midshipmen are required to memorize virtually all of the more than 1,000 facts outlined in the book.

Photo by MC2 Nathan Wilkes

I-Day concludes when the midshipmen take the Oath of Office in front of their family, friends and new classmates during a ceremony in Tecumseh Court at 6 p.m. After the ceremony, plebes say goodbye to their families who will not see them again until Plebe Parents Weekend, Aug. 13-16.

With the conclusion of I-Day, Plebe Summer officially begins. During this time, plebes start each day at dawn with mandatory physical training. The remainder of each day is packed with drills and instruction on the military lifestyle and more physical training. The plebes are allotted minimal leisure time.

During these six weeks, the plebes are led and trained by upperclass midshipmen. Instruction includes seamanship, boat handling, navigation and small arms training. 

“I’m very excited to start training the new candidates,” said Midshipman 1st Class Cameron Morris. “It’s our turn to take up the reins, and rise to as leaders for the new class.”

Photo  by MC2 Nathan Wilkes

This indoctrination period is designed to help plebes develop discipline, honor, character, self-reliance and organization, providing them with the foundation to become midshipmen and successful military leaders.

“Here, more than ever before, you will be challenged morally, mentally, and physically,” said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter to the Class of 2019. “It's not supposed to be easy. Plebe Summer is pressure with a purpose.”

It’s that atmosphere that attracts students looking to excel. 

“My son chose to come here because he wanted a big challenge,” said Glenn Wilcox, whose son Matthew is a new plebe.  “He thought he could get the best by coming here.”

Carter said that’s why these students were chosen out of the more than 16,000 who applied to attend the Naval Academy.

“You are here because of your academic excellence, athletic prowess, and demonstrated moral character,” he said. “We chose you for your performance to this point, but even more so for your potential as future leaders of character and consequence for our nation.”

"I know you are ready for this challenge and worthy of this calling.”