More than 250 Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) midshipmen and Seaman to Admiral-21 officer candidates from 93 colleges and universities around the country chose the first ships of their Navy careers Feb. 26-28.
Ship selection is one of the most significant events for these midshipmen and officer candidates as they take their first step toward joining the U.S. Navy Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) community in the fleet.
“Ship selection is the start of a Midshipmen’s careers and it’s going to be the launching platform into the rest of their experience in the Navy,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Walter, the junior officer sea coordinator, Surface Warfare Officer Assignments. “This is the only opportunity in the Navy where you’re going to get to say ‘I want to go there’ and actually get it. It allows them to launch their careers and be excited about it at the same time.”
Midshipmen and officer candidates are ranked according to their grade point average, aptitude scores, and physical fitness assessments. Known as the “SWO Draft,” the students made their selections with the assistance of the Navy Personnel Command’s (NPC) surface warfare officer detailers here in Millington, Tennessee. The “draft” which allowed each midshipman or officer candidate the choice of selecting their ship, was live streamed for friends and family to view. Using an online collaboration tool, the detailers were able to video chat with the midshipman or officer candidate. If they could not be reached via the video call they would then be contacted via phone.
NROTC and NPC have used online tools like this to conduct ship selection multiple times previously providing midshipmen a memorable start to their SWO careers. During the live stream, multiple participating NROTC units displayed a great deal of school spirit -- some units had live music, confetti, flags, friends, families, instructors and more participating behind the selecting midshipmen. Some midshipmen and officer candidates who had initially elected to select their ships via a phone call changed their minds after viewing the excitement of the online tool and jumped into the room to select their ship.
A rare occasion occurred when Midshipman 1st Class Caldwell Miller, a Rhodes College (Memphis, Tennessee) student, attended his ship selection in person in the surface warfare officer detailer spaces in NPC. Miller, a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, got to meet face-to-face with the detailers prior to making his selection.
“Being here in person is an awesome experience for the ship selection. Everyone was offering me tips and it gave me a point of view on a lot of aspects I didn’t consider beforehand,” said Miller. “I’m looking forward to new experiences, a new location, getting qualifications and interacting with other Ensigns and other junior officers. I haven’t been out of the United States that much and so I thought that this experience, especially during my first tour and first deployment, will be eye opening for myself.”
Following commissioning ceremonies and graduation, from May to June, the newly commissioned SWOs will be on their way to their first shipboard assignments as Navy Ensigns.
The NROTC program was established to develop midshipmen mentally, morally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, loyalty and Navy core values in order to commission college graduates as Naval officers.
The officers will possess a basic professional background, are motivated toward careers in the Naval service and have a potential for future development in mind and character so as to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.
The live stream was available on the “PERS-41 Surface Warfare Officer Assignments” YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWhGUNDzRtgbgGyR1kcyJ4A
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