Ship Selection… it’s like a combination of the NFL draft, the Oscars, and The Price is Right rolled into one awesome event! CoVid has families watching virtually, but it is exciting nonetheless.
Firsties that have been assigned to the Surface Warfare community will choose their ships and their life for the foreseeable future, and this will be the vessel where they train and qualify for their SWO pin over the next two years. A lot of research goes into the choice and a lot of things are in motion at the same time. As choices disappear, Plan B becomes very real. Order of Merit (OOM) becomes key – the higher the OOM the closer the Midshipman is to being able to choose first.Desirable ports? Rota Spain is usually the first to go, along with Hawaii and Japan. Although location is of interest, of main importance is the ship and the opportunities it can offer. But as in anything with the Big Navy, it can be a toin coss regardless of the amount of research. Some Midshipmen are bound to very few choices due to their service selection, such as IP (Information Professional) or IW (Information Warfare). They will usually go towards the end of the “draft” and are limited to certain ships designated with a plaque of a specific color depending on the assignment. As far as the event itself, the air is electric and full of excitement. This is the moment the sacrifices and overcoming the difficulties past four years have forged. It is amazing!
Usually, each Midshipman chooses a song that will play as they walk down to the stage where there are boards with names of ports and ship ready for the harvest. The Mids will walk down as their name is called in OOM while a mini bio with a picture is shown on a giant electronic screen hovering over the stage. As the Midshipmen walk across the stage, the tension is palpable. The choice is made – the plaque with the ship name is taken off of the board by the Firstie and a shout of joy and relief will usually accompany the ship selection. The plaque is tightly grasped as if it might evaporate into thin air at any moment. Fist pumps, jumps, somersaults, and a myriad of other antics can occur from time to time – all the while being cognizant of respecting the uniform.
Shaking hands with Officers who are waiting at the other end of the stage and meeting the welcome committee from the ship that has been selected is also on the agenda – although CoVid may play a hand in that as well. Under normal circumstances, each ship will usually send a welcome committee of one or two officers, maybe more, and they come prepared with swag from their ship to give to the Ensigns -to-be that have selected their ship. Usually alumni from the prior year are amongst the entourage that greets the Firsties after they select their ship. My then ENS was one of those former Mid “greeters” that welcomed the class 2018 prospects. It is as exciting for them as it is for the Firsties, and it sure does bring back memories.
The ships stationed in Japan can have the coolest swag – katana swords for the soon-to-be Ensigns that select their ships. With all of this said, remember Semper Gumby… nothing is set in stone and things can change before they get to their ship, so be prepared, to go with the flow and keep Semper Gumby close to your sleeve…
Ship Selection is the ultimate experience for Midshipmen and spectators – in person or virtual – alike. Classmates, friends, family members, Upperclass, and Plebes are all cheering, and excited. Sometimes they will be holding signs, making noise for their favorite Firstie. It is so crazy and SO amazing! My husband likes to say that Ship Selection night is just like the NFL draft without the money but with a heart for true service. And the big difference is that unlike the NFL draft, these “rookies” aren’t getting millions…
Our Mids are humbly continuing on their journey of service and of putting others before self; of putting their lives on the line so that we can be safe here at home. The takeaway? We have some pretty remarkable kids who are Midshipmen and will be Officers in the Navy or the Marine Corps. They are incredible human beings to whom we owe a debt of gratitude. Here, here to the Class of 2021 and all of those who have come before: May you enjoy fair winds and following seas! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts and enjoy your the excitement of the ship that you have selected!! YOU HAVE EARNED IT – GO NAVY!
Here is some more info from the horse’s mouth… http://www.public.navy.mil/…/midshipmen/Pages/default.aspx
(Shared from my book, A USNA Mom’s Journal, by AN Shine. Copyright 2013, 2019)