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.”