Friday, April 29, 2016

Faces of the U.S. Naval Academy: MIDN 1/C Naomi Ngalle

Midshipman 1st Class Naomi Ngalle, USNA Fencing President, won the gold medal for women's saber at the Baltimore-Washington Conference individual championships hosted by St. John's College April 24. 

In February, Ngalle won the National Intercollegiate Women's Fencing Association championship - a first for Navy - and earlier in April, won the silver medal at the collegiate club level national championships for the second year in a row.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Japanese Ambassador Speaks at USNA on Asia-Pacific Relations

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the U.S. Kenichiro Sasae visited the U.S. Naval Academy April 27th to discuss Japanese and American relations in the Pacific.

The visit included dinner at the Naval Academy Club prior to Sasae's speech in Mahan Hall, in which he talked about the peace and friendship enjoyed by Japan and the U.S. for 70 years.

Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Kenchiro Sasae speaks at the Naval Academy
(Photo by MC2 Tyler Caswell)

“Over these 70 years, through our political and military alliance, the U.S. and Japan have sought progress based on the boundaries of democracy, rule of law, respect for human rights and our economies,” he said.

Sasae emphasized the U.S. military presence that provided assistance after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan on Mar. 11, 2011.

“Five years ago, when the most powerful earthquake hit Japan, I was sitting in my office in Tokyo,” said Sasae. “It’s hard to comprehend what happened that day. Over 80,000 people died or went missing. In the midst of this devastation, the USS Ronald Reagan and 7th Fleet rushed to the scene and saved countless lives. Sixty thousand U.S. forces supported the Japanese Self Defense Force. Every citizen of my country will always remember what those forces did for us.”

International relations are a cornerstone of continuing security efforts in a part of the world that has atypical confrontations and influences, said Sasae.

Midshipmen greet Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Kenchiro Sasae
(Photo by MC2 Tyler Caswell) 

“I can tell you, first hand, it is a very complex and unstable situation with North Korea,” said Sasae. “We have to be careful with the risks involved. We have all seen the provocation of North Korean cities lately, whether weapon or nuclear testing, and it has prompted international sanctions. We need to be ready."

Sasae expressed confidence in the combined efforts of Japan and the U.S. to improve the situation in the Pacific. Having served a 40-year career in Japan’s regional divisions and postings at embassies abroad, Sasae spoke with authority on U.S. and Japanese efforts ongoing toward regional stability.

The success is shared with approximately 54,000 military personnel, 42,000 dependents, 8,000 DoD civilian employees, and 25,000 Japanese workers currently in Japan, pushing forward towards that stability, he said.

“We have the largest U.S. military presence in the Asia-Pacific. It directly contributes to the stability in the region,” said Sesae. “We consider the U.S our best friend. Japan has no better friend in the world than the U.S., and Japan desires to be the same for the U.S.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

USNA Hosts Banquet in Honor of Asian American, Pacific Islander Month

By MC2 Jonathan Correa

The U.S. Naval Academy hosted a banquet honoring the upcoming Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month April 25 at the Naval Academy Club.

Rear Adm. Victorino "Vic" G. Mercado, director of the Chief of Naval Operations’ Assessment Division, was the keynote speaker, specifically addressing the midshipmen on the increased diversity of the fleet they will be leading in the future.

Rear Adm. Victorino Mercado speaks at a USNA banquet honoring Asian American
and Pacific Islander Month. (Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa)

“In the fleet, everyone has a different skin color, but in the wardroom, the ready room, your platoon, everyone is color-blind,” said Mercado. “You will carry your weight and work together no matter the difference.”

Mercado, a 1983 Naval Academy graduate, encouraged the midshipmen to develop their ambitions.

"Don’t limit yourself," said Mercado. “One of you in here could be the next chief of naval operations, or the commandant of the Marine Corps. The sky is the limit. You are part of the Brigade of Midshipmen that is steeped in history of naval and Marine Corps warriors.”

Attendees at the USNA banquet honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander Month
(Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa)

He also spoke about the history of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. military and the importance of remembering those earlier sacrifices, something that particularly resonated with the midshipmen present.

“Rear Adm. Mercado spoke on how we must understand that previous generations of Asian-Americans paved the way for our generation to become officers and make a difference,” said Midshipman 1st Class Zenas Yun. “Even at a time of tremendous racial discrimination and cultural prejudice, there were Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who helped defend and develop the United States.”

Asian Pacific American Heritage Week was first established in 1979. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush expanded the observance to encompass the month of May, and in 1992, Congress passed a law permanently designating May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

U.S. Naval Academy Hosts Annual Special Olympics Competition

By MC2 Jonathan Correa

The U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) Midshipman Action Group (MAG) hosted its annual Special Olympics competition April 23 and 24.

Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa. Check out this Flickr album for more.

More than 400 midshipmen volunteers were paired up with athletes that competed in swim events at the Macdonough Hall pool and track and field events at Ingram Field.

This is MAG’s largest community event of the year.

"The Special Olympics has been held at the Naval Academy for about as long as the Special Olympics has been around," said Jim Schmutz, president and CEO of Special Olympics Maryland. "This is a testimony to the academy, and the mission and philosophy that exists here to engage the midshipmen in a way that contributes to the greater good and the community.”

Midshipman volunteers provided support to the athletes, ensuring they arrived to their events on time and cheering them on to keep their morale high.

"This event gives us midshipmen a large and impactful opportunity to connect with the community," said Midshipman 2nd Class Michael Ross, USNA Special Olympics project leader. "It gives us the opportunity to show not only the local community but the state that we are here to serve.”

In Maryland there are approximately 7,311 athletes participating in 27 different Special Olympics sports year round, and in this event athletes are earning qualification times to continue to the next level of competition at other venues statewide.

Midshipmen and athletes both benefit from the experience, said Schmutz.

Photo by MC2 Jonathan Correa. Check out this Flickr album for more.

“Our athletes certainly look up to the midshipmen and have a lot of respect for them, and based on what I observed, it is equally valuable to the midshipmen,” he said. “The one-on-one relationship between them is priceless. I am grateful and want to thank the people here at the academy for being so dedicated to our athletes.”

The mission of Special Olympics is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for persons eight years of age and older with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.

"I really didn’t know what to expect, but it has been great," said Midshipman 2nd Class Carter Oleary, USNA Special Olympics volunteer. "I think this is an amazing program and a fun time. I think anybody out there should think about volunteering.”

Monday, April 25, 2016

USNA Mids Take 2nd In International Cyber Competition

By Midshipman 1st Class Joe Dinkel

Four midshipmen recently competed at the Atlantic Council’s European 9/12 Cyber Challenge in Geneva, Switzerland. The USNA team took tops honors amongst all-American and all-military teams and finished second in the world.

Midshipmen 1st Class Joe Dinkel, Zac Dannelly, Bill Young and Max Goldwasser
took second place in the Atlantic Council's European 9/12 Cyber Challenge

The Naval Academy’s team was comprised of Midshipmen 1st Class Zac Dannelly of Louisville, Ky., a Gates-Cambridge scholar; Joseph Dinkel, of West Lafayette, Ind., a Schwarzman scholar; Max Goldwasser of Atlanta, Georgia, a future naval information warfare officer, and Bill Young of Arden, N.C., a future fellow of University of Virginia’s computer science graduate department.

After the USA-based challenge, Dannelly, Dinkel, Goldwasser and Young sought to garner an even greater understanding of cyber-connectivity and internet-security with worldly perspective.

The Atlantic Council’s Cyber 9/12 is an annual cyber policy competition challenging students to develop globally nuanced policies that respond to the myriad of insecurities that exist in our increasingly binary, yet complexly connected world. With the purpose of developing mindful, technical leaders that will take up the torch and bring light to the cyber realm, the Atlantic Council creates fictional cyber catastrophes. These challenges offer stress tests to competitors who must propose creative, cogent policy alternatives in response.

In the U.S. challenge, the Naval Academy worked well in known waters: the catastrophe came from an attack on military-grade Global Positioning Systems. In Geneva, the challenge arose first in small-scale Serbian commercial, outward-facing internet-sites. The midshipmen sought not to overreact as they kept tactical-level responses with private companies, provided governmental aid, and preempted policy-makers to outline proportional responses to cyber attacks.

The European judges took well to the Naval Academy’s multi-pronged response, but cautioned the team to recognize that Europe writ large does not work under the hierarchical structure of the American government.

From this critique, the midshipmen adapted to a battlespace. The intelligence report in the second round upgraded the threat as the cyber-attacks breached superficial networks and caused a detrimental electric surge that took down power grids not only in Serbia, but neighboring states such as Hungary as well. Dannelly led the team by altering the American mindset.

“We need to be more malleable,” he said. “Our response to this crisis must establish multilateral support from the EU, NATO, and the Council of Europe. This energy crisis is more than just a Serbian problem. This is problem that hurts the whole of Europe.”

In the final round, facing down a panel of seven experts in cyber security, law, and governance, the Naval Academy delivered. Conceding only to King’s College’s finest, the Naval Academy humbly accepted the silver medal.

The international competition consisted of 30 teams from institutions around the globe, including the Geneva School of Diplomacy, the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Science Po Paris, Tallinn University of Technology, the Swedish Defense University, and the American Air Force Command and Staff College.

Speaking for the group, MIDN 1st Class Max Goldwasser found the Atlantic Council’s Cyber 9/12 to be a “mentally expansive experience.” Three of the four members of this team stand tall as upcoming graduates of the Naval Academy’s first class of cyber operations majors (Dinkel is the token English major. He hopes to be an honorary graduate of the first cyber operations force).

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Naval Academy Faculty Receive Promotions and Tenure

A ceremony was held recently in Memorial Hall to honor the following members of the USNA faculty who will be promoted later this year.

Associate Professor, effective mid-August 2016:
CAPT David Smith, USN, Leadership, Ethics and Law

Granted tenure in their current position of Associate Professor, effective mid-August 2016:
Tae Lim, Aerospace Engineering
Andrew Muller, Oceanography

Associate Professor with tenure, effective mid-August 2016:
Nate Chambers, Computer Science
Audrey Wu Clark, English
Gina Henderson, Oceanography
Michael Insler, Economics
Eyo Ita, Physics
Michael Morabito, Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering
Dan Roche, Computer Science
Judy Rosenstein, Leadership, Ethics, and Law
Charles Sweet, Chemisty
Nelson Uhan, Mathematics

Full Professor, effective mid-August 2016:
Ryan Brady, Economics
Christopher Brown, Computer Science
Patrick Caton, Mechanical Engineering
David Fredricksson, Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering
Todd Garth, Languages and Culture
Sommer Gentry, Mathematics
Clare Gutteridge, Chemistry
Anastasios Liakos, Mathematics
Luke McDowell, Computer Science
Carl Mungan, Physics
T. Jason Shaffer, English
Andrew Smith, Mechanical Engineering
Katherine Smith, Economics
Cecily Steppe, Oceanography

Friday, April 15, 2016

UN Ambassador Talks at Naval Academy Conference on Judicious Use of Force

The U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations spoke at the U.S. Naval Academy April 14 as part of the academy’s Forrestal Lecture series.

Ambassador Samantha Power presented remarks on the judicious use of military power in the Middle East to academy faculty, staff and midshipmen, as well as visiting students attending the 2016 Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference.

Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations
speaks at the Naval Academy.
(Photo by MC2 Tyler Caswell)

The annual conference brings together more than 150 U.S. and international undergraduate students to discuss a subject of significance in current global affairs. The theme of this year’s conference was “Women and Security: The Implications of Promoting Global Gender Equality.”

Power’s message focused on the relationships between the U.S. and Iraq, Iran and Egypt. Her speech was structured around the question, “How do we deploy the foreign policy tools at our disposal,” and “deploy those tools to advance America’s vital national interests in a period of seismic upheaval?”

She spoke about the decisive role the U.S. military plays in the Middle East region, pointing to the success the U.S. military had in bringing down Osama Bin Laden. She also noted the successful work that has been done with the Iraqi government in pushing back the ISIL extremist group.

She then went on to say that force cannot be the primary means of advancing U.S. interests in the Middle East. Quoting President Barack Obama, she said, “Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail.”

That led to her point that “there is nothing weak about weighing carefully when and where we deploy our troops.”

The annual Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference brings together more than 150
U.S. and international students to discuss topics in global affairs.
(Photo by MC2 Tyler Caswell)

Power cited some of the successes the U.S. has had in the Middle East without military force, such as the Iran nuclear deal. In the face of much criticism, the U.S. allowed Iran to have a nuclear program, with restrictions and international oversight. The success of this deal came from the collaborative efforts of sanctions by world powers. According to Power, for the deal to work it had to be principled.

“We did not and do not believe in engagement for engagement’s sake,” she said. “We believe in engagement when it provides a way to advance our interests, chief among them keeping the American people safe.”

The requirements for the deal included full transparency of Iran’s nuclear program. It has led to the decrease of Iran’s nuclear supplies; the country no longer possesses enough supplies for even one nuclear missile. Though Iran still engages in destabilizing practices, the deal does not prevent the U.S. from being outspoken against these practices.

Power’s overall message was that judicious use of the military is not timidity, but rather strength. We must be willing to sit down with countries that we believe have destabilizing practices and build relations with them, she said. Engagement should not be done for engagement’s sake; it must have a clear purpose and advantage. The U.S. must see this purpose through every deal, and keep what matters at the forefront: the safety of the American people.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

USNA Jiu Jitsu Victorious Over Army in Inaugural Army-Navy Meet

By Cmdr. Matthew Schell and Midshipman 1st Class Nick D’Antonio

Thirteen members of the Naval Academy Jiu Jitsu team traveled to West Point March 26 to take on Army in the first ever head-to-head Army-Navy Brazilian Jiu Jitsu meet. Army did a superb job hosting the inaugural event that was held in Eisenhower Hall.

Back Row, from left: Officer representative CDR Matt Schell, MIDN Mike Landry,
MIDN Jack Timberlake, MIDN Nathan Gilmer, MIDN Jacob Santer.  Middle, from left:
MIDN Dustin Shackleford, MIDN James Michael, MIDN Nick D'Antonio, MIDN Cat Adams,
MIDN Liz Schilder, MIDN Ryan Lewandowski, Coach Michael Cho.  Front Row,
from left: MIDN Dan Grocki, MIDN Alex Laureys, MIDN Tommy Pierce

At the end of a hard day of competition, Navy emerged victorious with 6 wins, 4 losses, and 3 draws.

"Throughout my years at the academy, Jiu Jitsu has tested all members of the team’s leadership on and off the mat," said Jiu Jitsu club president MIDN 1/C Nick D’Antonio, of New Orleans, La. "It is said that the mat reveals even the most well-hidden character traits, and I believe that was most exemplified during this Army-Navy contest."

D’Antonio coordinated the event along with Army Cadet Erica Forktus, of Yardley, Pa.

The matches were “submission-only” with an 8-minute regulation period and a 2-minute overtime period. During the overtime period each competitor was given the opportunity to start out in a dominant position. Matches were declared draws if neither fighter achieved a submission by the end of the overtime period. Submission-only matches require exceptional endurance, mental toughness, and tenacity.

125-pound MIDN 3/C Catherine “Cat” Adams, from New Orleans, La., set the tone early by winning a hard-fought match by arm bar. Adams held her opponent in a triangle choke for about four minutes before transitioning to the arm bar and securing the submission.

MIDN Nick D'Antonio controls his opponent.

In another match, 165-pounder MIDN 1/C James Michael, of Washington, D.C., won in under four minutes when he surprised his opponent with a rapidly applied triangle choke.

MIDN 2/C Dustin Shackleford, from Baltimore, Md., dominated his opponent with wrestling and locked in an arm bar to win his match in 2:45.

Navy secured the victory with two quick arm bar victories by 180-pound MIDN 2/C Jack Timberlake, from Chicago, Ill., and 220-pound MIDN 4/C Preston Webb, from Piedmont, S.C.

MIDN Grocki works for a triangle choke.

"The team showed what they were truly made of in helping me coordinate this meet and by giving everything they had on the mat, and I couldn’t be more honored and humbled to have the opportunity to lead them," said D’Antonio. "Army exceeded my expectations on and off the mat as well, coordinating the lodging and the arena for the event, fighting hard on the mat, and displaying exceptional sportsmanship throughout the entire event. We’ll have tough shoes to fill when we host next year.”

A volunteer coaching staff from Conquest BJJ out of Millersville, Md., coaches the Naval Academy Jiu-Jitsu team. The two primary instructors are Conquest Co-owner and Reserve Lt. Cmdr. Nate Grebb (USNA ’05) and retired Marine Lt. Col. Michael Cho (USNA ’93).  Both coaches are Brown Belts under Conquest’s head instructor, 4th Degree Black Belt, Professor Vicente Junior. Coach Cho accompanied the team to West Point and cornered the Midshipmen in the Army-Navy meet.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a modern martial art that emphasizes leverage, position, and movement to humanely defeat an opponent. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques to control and subdue an opponent are so effective that they have become foundational to many other fighting arts, such as mixed martial arts, the Marine Corps martial arts program, and Army combatives.

One distinguishing feature of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the scale of available techniques to apply against an opponent, from simple restraint to grave bodily injury. Jiu Jitsu helps train midshipmen on how to use good judgment in the application of force.

Full Results of the Meet:

125 pound MIDN 1/C Alex Laureys from Pineville, La. – Lost by arm bar. (6:00)

125 pound MIDN 3/C Catherine Adams from New Orleans, La. – Won by arm bar (5:00)

160 pound MIDN 3/C Elizabeth Schilder from Georgetown, Ky. – Lost by arm bar (5:30)

150 pound MIDN 1/C Ryan Lewandowski from Goshen County, W.V. – Won due to opponent disqualification (4:20)

165 pound MIDN 1/C James Michael from Washington, D.C. – Won by triangle choke (3:00)

160 pound MIDN 2/C Mike Landry from Baton Rouge, La.– Lost by arm bar (4:30)

160 pound MIDN 2/C Dustin Shackleford from Baltimore, Md. – Won by arm bar (2:45)

175 pound MIDN 1/C Nick D’Antonio from New Orleans, La.– Draw

185 pound MIDN 1/C Dan Grocki from Honolulu, Hawaii – Draw

180 pound MIDN 2/C Jack Timberlake from Chicago, Ill.– Won by arm bar (3:30)

180 pound MIDN 4/C Jacob Santer from Fargo, N.D. -Draw

190 pound MIDN 4/C Nathaniel Gilmer from Tiffin, Ohio– Lost by Omoplata (3:20)

220 pound MIDN 4/C Preston Webb from Piedmont, S.C. – Won by arm bar (2:35)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Letter to My Former Self: Capt. Lee Haney ('08)

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 Marine Capt. Lee Haney,  a former counter intelligence / human intelligence officer and 2008 graduate.

Lee Haney at Mountain Warfare School

Graduation will be here before you know it, and you will not believe what you will see over the next 10 years. You will have traveled to Turkey over Spring Break for an Olmstead Foundation Staff Ride, spent a month in China for a USNA language immersion program, commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps, completed TBS and the CI/HUMINT Basic Course, moved to Camp Pendleton, CA (the best duty station on Earth), deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, completed your service commitment and received your DD-214, earned an MBA, transitioned to your first civilian job working in investment banking, and found yourself at a huge tech company in Silicon Valley. You may have even found a wonderful woman who you somehow miraculously convinced to become your lifelong partner (but it’s okay if it doesn’t happen immediately upon graduation…take your time!)

Yet none of that probably seems all that important right now because the big ticket items on your mind are your upcoming summer training (get excited for Mountain Warfare School) and semester exchange at the Air Force Academy in the fall (spoiler alert: all the rumors you have heard about Zoomies are true).

Hopefully, what I tell you below, based on some of my favorite Marine Corps Leadership Principles, will be helpful in making both your immediate experience more enjoyable and your long-term goals come true.

“Be Technically and Tactically Proficient”

You may have agonized over your choice of major, but it turns out that this decision was not that impactful in the long run. I’m really glad you ended up choosing a major based on what excites you rather than what you think might look good on your future resume. Whereas your choice of major did not make a huge difference in your future opportunities, your academic performance certainly did. If there is one thing you need to do during these next two years to set yourself up for the long-term, it will be to get good grades. Especially when it comes to applying for elite civilian careers and graduate school, your grades will really matter, and they will follow you for a long time. To see just how important they are, check out the average undergraduate GPA for institutions like the Stanford Graduate School of Business or Yale Law School.

“Seek Responsibility and Take Responsibility for Your Actions” 

Your Company Officer may seem incredibly senior to you now, but they are only a few years ahead of you. You may very well see them again in the Fleet and Operating Forces! Or, just as likely, they could end up being your civilian hiring manager if you decide to leave the Navy or Marine Corps. Likewise, your classmates are the future Rhodes Scholars, Harvard Kennedy School alumni, and general superstars you will count yourself proud to be among. But that may be difficult to see right now when your Company Officer denies your special request chit or a classmate acts like a “Joe.” During these moments, think about what you want to achieve in the long-run and consider that the people you meet at the Naval Academy will all remember how you treated them. Invest deeply and broadly in your classmates and Company Officers. They will look out for you for the rest of your life and will bend over backwards for you if you have earned their respect.

Likewise, a small tidbit I didn’t understand 10 years ago: your alumni network won’t just be made up of Naval Academy graduates…your fellow Service Academy alumni (especially West Point graduates) will look out for you as one of their own. Do the same for them and take advantage of every opportunity you can to build relationships with them (rivalry games, exchange programs, and joint assignments upon commissioning).

“Know Your Marines and Look Out for Their Welfare”

Some of the best advice you ever got was from a graduate of the Class of 1957: “Look down, not up…if you take care of your people, they will take care of you.”  You will make mistakes as an Ensign or Second Lieutenant. LOTS OF THEM. (I definitely made plenty of mistakes). But if your Sailors and Marines know you genuinely care about them – that you are focused on the mission and their welfare before your own FitRep – they will make you very successful (and keep you out of trouble).

“Know Yourself and Seek Self Improvement”

Three books you have already read will continue to form the basis for your future success. Keep these on your bookshelf, because you will return to them many times for counsel and good habits:

Siddhartha – For when you’re feeling lost and need to reset your internal compass

How to Win Friends and Influence People – To help you become a leader and influencer

The History of the Peloponnesian War – Every challenge you face will have been seen by someone else before; come here for a preview of the many strategic, political, and ethical dilemmas you may face in your life

Beyond these three books, devour topics that you find interesting, particularly those that reflect whatever environment you’re about to enter (be it in warfare, politics, education, or business). In an email to officers exhorting them to read broadly and regularly, General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis said, “Ultimately, a real understanding of history means that we face NOTHING new under the sun.” General Mattis is a lot smarter than me, so I figure he is advice is worth considering.


There is nothing on Earth more rewarding than leading Marines and Sailors, and that opportunity will be upon you before you know it. 10 years from now, you will have seen more than you could possibly imagine. The best part is, it will only have been the beginning.

Semper Fidelis,
Lee Haney, (Former) Captain, USMC

Monday, April 11, 2016

USNA Hosts Students for SeaPerch STEM Event

By MC2 Tyler Caswell

The United States Naval Academy (USNA) hosted a Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) event for Anne Arundel County Public Schools and surrounding counties at Rickover Hall April 9.

More than 450 middle-school students from 40 schools competed in the 2016 Maryland Regional SeaPerch Challenge, testing student-built underwater robots.

SeaPerch is an innovative underwater robotics program that equips teachers and students with the resources they need to build an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) in an in-school or out-of-school setting. Students build the ROV from a kit comprised of low-cost, easily-accessible parts, following a curriculum that teaches basic engineering and science concepts with a marine engineering theme.

USNA’s STEM faculty hold year-round instructional seminars to teach educators how the ROVs are built, and then bring them to the Yard for a competitive testing in USNA’s Hydro Lab. More than 130 ROVs were tested in multiple areas that cover a wide scope of maneuverability, speed, and capability challenges.

“I keep coming back for the experience,” said Reed Matkins, an 8th grade student from Old Mill Middle South School. “Doing the SeaPerch requires so many different parts of STEM. It’s so much fun to build, test it in our pool and bring it here to see all the different designs and variations. I’m very competitive, and it’s fun to come out and see how competitive everyone else gets.”

Building the ROVs help the students learn the basics of engineering, teamwork and problem-solving in and out of the classroom.

“The SeaPerch is an underwater robot project that combines a number of engineering challenges,” said Angela Moran, faculty member in USNA’s Mechanical Engineering Dept. and director for the STEM Center and Outreach. “Teams of students will have to build the SeaPerch, waterproof its circuitry, control its buoyancy and maneuver it by a tethered remote. This physical testing shows students hands-on applications and the difference between having it on paper, and actually doing it.”

More than 80 volunteers – including USNA faculty, staff and midshipmen – donated their time to streamline the rotation of students, help with on-site repairs, and perform competition recording and judging. Volunteers understand the concepts, challenges and solutions students undertake in making the ROVs will help students approach later challenges with a different outlook.

“I love being able to talk to young kids and see them excited about the ideas that I enjoy as an adult,” Midshipman 3rd Class Anna Haschert. “I didn’t necessarily have the exposure to these programs while I was younger. I think that exposure will help build their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, which can be universally applied to all challenges.”

USNA’s STEM program hosts various events year round, impacting approximately 18,000 students annually through its outreach program. After optimizing its capacity for hosting events, the program is focusing efforts on expanding its mentorship of nearly 1,000 teachers to impact as many students as possible.

“What we’ve been doing is pushing the envelope with teachers,” said Moran. “We feel we are having a substantial impact through teachers. Kids really do want to change the world, and if they see that programs like this provide opportunities to train to actually do something with their life, they are more willing to participate. I think that’s what resonates with them.”

For more information about USNA’s STEM Center visit:

Friday, April 8, 2016

Midshipmen's Capstone Project May Help Improve Munitions Production

Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) aim to help Navy Munitions Command Atlantic (NMCLANT) improve productivity with their math capstone project that they will present at the Flight Line of the Future competition May 2 in Suffolk, Virginia.

The four Midshipmen participating in the project have created a computer simulation written in the programming language Python, where they use real-world data from NMCLANT to dictate how the computer model is allowed to run.

With the simulator, the students can input different production limitation rules. For example, rocket pods cannot be built on days with lightning, and employees cannot work more than eight hours a day. By creating a simulation and manipulating such variables, they are able to get realistic data for decision makers to use.

“The Navy has decided to increase the emphasis on arming helicopters, and because of this, NMCLANT has to try to keep up with demand,” said Cmdr. Jay Foraker, associate chairman for USNA’s Math Department.

NMCLANT assembles the munitions for armed helicopter operations used at Naval Air Station Norfolk. The most labor intensive munitions to assemble are the rocket pods. To assemble these pods, a booster and warhead must be coupled and placed in a 19 millimeter rocket canister. While they are keeping up with current quotas, the Navy’s requirement for munitions is rapidly increasing.

According to Foraker, there are projected to be an average of 253 requested rocket pods per year over the next four years. The model shows that if no upgrades are made, about 27 percent of all requests will not be fulfilled each year.

“The command came to us before the system failed, to get out in front of the situation and find a solution before productivity limits actually become a problem,” said Midshipman 1st Class Joe Curtis.

According to Foraker, the munitions are currently being built outdoors. The research shows that the largest positive impact on production, in absence of a new facility, is using two days per month of weekend overtime to help fulfill orders.

With the current setup, the command will fail to process roughly 27 percent of all munition requests. However, if they are able procure funds to pay for weekend overtime, the failure rate drops to an average of 15 percent.

“I think the best way to describe what we are doing is to say that we provide the data that justifies making a change to the current process and the need for additional manpower and facilities,” said Midshipman 1st Class Jacob Hilliard.

The midshipmen participating in this research project have a unique opportunity to make a tangible impact on the fleet before they have even reached graduation.

“It’s so cool to be a part of something that actually matters,” said Curtis. “We are working on a real problem and helping real people to make the fleet operate more efficiently.”

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Midshipman Receives Honorable Mention in SECNAV Innovation Awards

A U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) midshipman recently received recognition in the 2015 Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Innovation Awards Program for his work with additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing.

Midshipman 1st Class James Catina’s research demonstrated the benefits of additive manufacturing for creating rocket engines.

The SECNAV Innovation Awards Program seeks to annually recognize top Department of the Navy individuals and teams who made significant innovative achievements.

“Through additive manufacturing we are looking to be able to create designs for hybrid engines that will improve their thrust, overall capabilities and combustion safety,” said Catina.

Currently, the two most commonly used types of rocket engines are liquid rocket engines and solid fuel grains. A third and less-used type is the hybrid rocket, a combination of both. Hybrid rockets are more cost effective and energy efficient, but lack the thrust the others provide.

“Additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, allows rocket engine production to be done in less time, with less weight and considerably cheaper,” said Catina. “It allows engineers to manufacture designs that could not be done with traditional manufacturing methods. Because of that, we can conceptualize designs that could not be thought of before, allowing us to create a design geared towards increased thrust that could not be manufactured previously."

The research started with Marine Maj. Kristen Castonguay, USNA Aerospace Department master instructor, contacting Catina for assistance in building a laboratory test. Catina helped build the lab, and over three years, developed the idea into independent research and further researching it under a Bowman Scholarship. Castonguay serves as the advisor for the research, and also recommended Catina for the SECNAV Innovation Award.

“He is extremely motivated, very enthusiastic and has great new ideas,” said Castonguay. “The additive manufacturing we have been developing, he’s really taken it to another level of capability. I saw the innovation award, and I thought the work that Catina does is different and well beyond the research that a senior would typically be doing. He’s performing at a really high level; it’s a very cutting-edge and new type of application for the technology.”

The research team has grown to five midshipmen who are involved with conducting experiments and testing the grains being developed. The midshipmen attest that both the research and Catina are the reason they participate.

“I love the research, I love being part of something that really hasn’t been done before,” said Midshipman 1st Class Brett Nellis. “I talk to James all the time and bounce ideas off of him, and there really is no reference. It’s us just figuring it out as we go. I’ve worked with James in the past, and I knew how hard he works – that he does it smartly and is really good at research.”

The culmination of Catina’s research is slated for later this month in a live firing test of the hybrid engine. After graduating in May, Catina will be attending the Naval Postgraduate School, where he will study mechanical engineering.

“Ultimately I will be going to serve in the fleet, and I have to give up the research. But having my fingerprint on a puzzle piece, in a much bigger picture makes me feel very humbled,” he said.

For more information about USNA’s Aerospace Department, visit

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Annapolis-Area Commanders Sign Joint Proclamation in Support of Sexual Assault Prevention

Naval Support Activity (NSA) Annapolis hosted the first Joint Teal Ribbon Proclamation April 4 at the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Pavilion at NSA Annapolis.

Vice Adm. Walter "Ted" Carter, superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA), was joined by Capt. Logan Jones, commanding officer of NSA Annapolis; Capt. Michael McGinnis, commanding officer of Naval Health Clinic Annapolis; and Cmdr. John Downes, commanding officer of the Navy Operational Support Center in Baltimore, Md., to sign this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) proclamation.

USNA Superintendent VADM Ted Carter signs the Joint Teal Ribbon
Proclamation in support of sexual assault prevention.

“Sexual assault is a community issue,” said Capt. Bart Marsh, USNA’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program manager. “It is not just one command’s issue. It is all commands’ issue. To have all four Annapolis-area commands come together to sign this proclamation and show their support in the education, prevention and response to sexual assault and to help those who fall victim to this is a special thing.”

April 1 marked the beginning of SAAPM, and this year’s theme is “Eliminate Sexual Assault: Know Your Part. Do Your Part.”

USNA Superintendent VADM Ted Carter speaks at the signing ceremony for
the Joint Teal Ribbon Proclamation in support of sexual assault prevention.

“This is not just for how we are going to make it better for the Navy, but for each and every one of us,” said Carter. “The difference we are going to make in the progress toward ending sexual assault and taking care of those affected will help make this a better command, a better unit and a better Navy.”

The joint SAAPM proclamation signifies the partnership between the four commands and their commitment to prevention and response to sexual assault.

“Having our uniformed members as well as our civilian supporters in attendance underscored the importance of collaboration and community as we bring everyone together for this important cause,” said Marsh.

During the event, sailors from USNA and NSA Annapolis read parts of “The Teal Letter,” a letter written by a group of sexual assault survivors who wanted to educate the public about the consequences of sexual assault and how it affects victims and survivors emotionally, physically, socially and mentally. These survivors want the public to understand the effects of such an experience so that they will be more likely to show compassion towards victims and less likely to blame, pass judgment on, or spread rumors about victims and survivors.

Michelle Herrera from the NSA Annapolis SAPR Office and Shari Freeman
from the USNA SAPR Office speak during the signing ceremony for the
Joint Teal Ribbon Proclamation in support of sexual assault prevention.

“My hope for the sailors is to see that this topic is important to not only the sexual assault response coordinator (SARC) and victim advocates but also to leadership,” said Michelle Herrera, NSA Annapolis Installation SARC. “I hope if there were victims or survivors present that they feel they can come to any of us for help and know now who to turn to.”

The mission of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program is to prevent and respond to sexual assault, eliminating it from the military through a balance of focused education, comprehensive response, compassionate advocacy, and just adjudication in order to promote professionalism, respect, and trust, while preserving mission readiness.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Naval Academy Alumni Association Honors Three Distinguished Graduates

By MCSN Brianna Jones

The U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) and U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association awarded the 2016 Naval Academy Alumni Association Distinguished Graduate Award to three alumni in a ceremony before the Brigade of Midshipmen April 1 in Alumni Hall.

Retired Vice Adm. Robert Dunn (‘51), former Secretary of the Navy John Dalton (’64), and retired Capt. Carl June (’75) received the award for their lifelong achievements and service to the Navy and the nation.

Retired CAPT Carl June ('51), former Secretary of the Navy John Dalton ('64)
and retired VADM Robert Dunn ('51) receive the USNA Alumni
Association Distinguished Graduate Award.

The Distinguished Graduate Award, established in 1999, honors Naval Academy alumni who have given a lifetime of service to the Navy and have made significant distinguished contributions to the nation via their public service.

Dunn’s Navy career spanned 38 years and took him all around the world. Among his many assignments, he commanded a carrier air wing, USS Saratoga (CV 60), and a carrier battle group. He later commanded Naval Military Personnel Command and all Naval Air Forces in the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Dunn has been awarded with eight Navy Commendation Medals, 28 Air Medals, a Bronze Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and two Silver Stars.

“I was astounded when I found out I had been selected because most of the awardees are a lot younger than I am, so I thought the time had passed me by,” said Dunn. “Being awarded this honor is far beyond the expectations of a lowly plebe way back in 1947. I could have never imagined I would be where I am today.”

During his time at USNA, Dunn lettered in crew, was part of the Lucky Bag staff, and served as class president for three years.

Dalton served as a submarine officer and completed his military service as a lieutenant commander. He received his MBA from Wharton School before joining Goldman Sachs. He has served as chairman and CEO of several corporations and was nominated by President Jimmy Carter as president of the Government National Mortgage Association. Dalton later served as the 70th Secretary of the Navy, receiving his appointment from President Bill Clinton.

“To have been nominated for this award by my classmates is such a wonderful recognition in itself,” said Dalton. “I am humbled, honored, and very grateful, and it is a privilege to be here with whole Brigade of Midshipmen.”

June served in several military medical institutions during his time in the Navy. He first specialized in bone marrow transplants and served as the head of the Immune Cell Biology Department at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Later, his primary focus was on the treatment of infectious diseases such as malaria, HIV and AIDS. Recently, June has developed a new cancer treatment using T-cells infused with an engineered strain of the HIV virus that attacks cancer cells. This treatment has successfully eradicated cancer in more than 200 patients.

After the ceremony, the award winners mingled with midshipmen at an event reception. The future Navy and Marine Corps officers had the opportunity to talk with the 2016 distinguished graduates about their careers and experiences.

“It was amazing listening to the story of their careers and hearing about the things they have done,” said Midshipman 1st Class Jenna Westerberg, spring semester brigade commander.  “It is very humbling to be in the presence of these amazing men who got their start at this institution. The fact that I get the chance to interact with influential people like that is such a privilege.”

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Midshipmen to Compete in International Cyber Challenge

A team of U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen will compete in the international round of the 2016 Atlantic Council Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge in Geneva Switzerland April 7-8.

The Cyber 9/12 is an annual cyber policy competition challenging students to develop national security policy recommendations in response to a fictional cyber catastrophe.

MIDN 1/C Joe Dinkel, Max Goldwasser, Bill Young and Zac Dannelly
defend their proposal in the 2016 Atlantic Council Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge.
(Photo courtesy of the Atlantic Council)

The academy's team - comprised of Midshipmen 1st Class Zac Dannelly, Joe Dinkel, Max Goldwasser, and Bill Young - took top honors for all undergraduate schools and 3rd place overall in the U.S. competition, held at American University in Washington, D.C. March 11-12.

To make it into the competition, the mids submitted a cyber response policy paper based on a hypothetical cyber attack scenario. From these papers, approximately 40 teams from graduate and undergraduate schools were selected to attend the competition, including American University, Duke, Harvard, the National Intelligence University, Stanford, Brown, and Carnegie Mellon.

In a series of elimination rounds, the teams defended their recommendations to judging panels representing the National Security Council. As the teams progressed through each round, they were required to submit and defend new recommendations in response to various scenario updates. The midshipman team was the only undergraduate team and the first service academy team to make it through all the rounds, finishing in 3rd place behind the Air Force Command and Staff College and the National Intelligence University.

As a result of their outstanding performance, the midshipmen team was given approval to compete and represent USNA in the Cyber 9/12 international round.

MIDN 1/C Joe Dinkel, Max Goldwasser, Bill Young and Zac Dannelly
defend their proposal in the 2016 Atlantic Council Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge.
(Photo courtesy of the Atlantic Council)

The format of the competition remains the same, with a new globally-focused cyber incident. They will have to consider policy alternatives that take into account the full spectrum of international capabilities, politics, and organizations as they compete with 30 teams from institutions around the world, including King's College London, the Geneva School of Diplomacy, the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Sciences Po Paris, Tallinn University of Technology, and the Swedish Defence University.

The Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge remains the only major student competition devoted to national security policy recommendations for responses during a major cyber incident. It engages students with a group of senior-level cybersecurity practitioners acting as judges, representing various sectors including government, finance, telecom, and the press.

Part interactive learning experience and part competitive scenario exercise, the Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge gives students interested in cyber conflict policy an opportunity to interact with expert mentors, judges, and cyber professionals while developing valuable skills in policy analysis and presentation.

Friday, April 1, 2016

"80s Night" Celebrates 40 Years of Women at USNA

The U.S. Naval Academy hosted returning graduates March 29 at the Naval Academy Alumni Association's Ogle House to celebrate Women's History Month and the 40th anniversary of women attending the academy.

The event, entitled "80s Night" brought more than 60 female graduates from the 1980s back to Annapolis to share their memories and experiences with current midshipmen.

As midshipmen prepare to join a military where all areas of service are now open to women, this event provided an opportunity to network and bond with the women who came before them.

Sharon Disher, USNA Class of 1980, addresses the guests at "80"s Night"

"It's so important that these girls know they have a support network," said Sharon Disher, who graduated with the first class of women in 1980. "We are here to help them morally, mentally, emotionally and physically, even if they just need a hug. We want to share their trials and triumphs."

For many of the women at the event, it was a chance to help prevent the kind of isolation they felt as midshipmen.

"We felt a strong pull to be seen as fitting in, so felt discouraged from connecting with too many of the other women and supporting one another," said Stefanie Goebel, also Class of 1980.

Pam Corwin, who graduated in 1983, shared that desire to fit in. Her time with the sailing team helped, she said.

"Being on on a co-ed team provided some normalcy," she said. "Often on my way to class, tourists would stop me and ask to take a photo because I was a woman mid. I always refused because I didn't want to stand out. I just wanted to be another midshipman."

But Corwin, like many of her classmates, values what her experiences at the academy and in the fleet taught her.

It "made me very strong, driven, determined ... a better leader, manager, parent, decision maker," she said. "I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. I would do it all again."

The first female midshipmen arrived with the Class of 1980 on Induction Day July 6, 1976. Four years later, 55 women from that class graduated. Since then, more than 4,600 women have graduated from the Naval Academy. The most recent graduating class included 204 women, and the current plebe class boasts the largest number of women in any service academy's history with 324.

With the removal of gender-based restrictions on military service, women can now serve in all combat roles, including in the Marine infantry and Navy SEALS.

"The opportunities [women] have in the Navy today are so much greater than what was available in the 80s. I didn't dream of flying a fighter or driving a combatant or a submarine because it wasn't even a glimmer of a possibility," said Corwin. "The fact that [they] aspire to do these things and then go on to do them ... is so important to the continual and never ending path to equality for all."

And the current midshipmen continue to impress their mentors.

"It's heartening and gratifying to see the caliber of women here," said Disher. "It makes everything we went through worth it."