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Naval Academy Sea Trials Builds Plebes’ Teamwork

Posted on: May 14, 2013 12:00 EDT by Jessica Clark

The Naval Academy Class of 2016 completed 14 continuous hours of rigorous physical and mental challenges May 14 during the academy's annual Sea Trials training exercise.

Sea Trials is a capstone event for the freshman “plebe” midshipman modeled after the Marine Corps' Crucible and the Navy's Battle Stations recruit programs.

Taking place at different locations throughout the Yard and Naval Support Activity Annapolis, events included a variety of physical challenges that simulate situations naval and Marine officers might encounter in the fleet. 

A 2:30 a.m. wakeup is a challenge for anyone, but before the sun was up the plebes found themselves running obstacle courses and simulating urban security clearance operations.

Other stations included shore defense, damage control, land navigation, survival skills, simulated bridge defense and demolition, Marine combat fitness tests, pugil stick jousting, casualty evacuation and a two-mile regimental run.

The overall exercise is designed to test the plebes' teamwork and reinforce their bonds as a company and class, while also providing a leadership challenge for the upperclass midshipmen who lead each station.

“It’s a real test of the plebe class. At this point they’ve been broken down and built back up together as a team, and I think this is the ultimate test of the teamwork they’ve developed over the course of their plebe year,” said Midshipman 2nd Class Shelby-Wayne Williams.

Williams commanded the wet and sandy station, which involves physical exercises on the beach by the Severn River and crawling through a trench covered with barbed wire while carrying supplies.

“The trench is designed to test their mental fortitude,” he said. “They’ve already done a lot so they’re tired. Low crawling is difficult at this point in the day. They have to have the mental fortitude to just push through it and motivate each other.”

Midshipman 2nd Class Tim Winkler, commander for one of the combat fitness stations, said the evolution provides the plebes the opportunity to build camaraderie within their class while also accomplishing the academy’s physical mission.

Building camaraderie is just what Midshipman 4th Class Brissa Medina, of 1st Company, said she hopes to gain from the experience.

“It’s really cool to do things together as a class because during the academic year, you’re kind of to yourself,” said Medina. “With events like this, you get to know people better.

“It’s something we looked forward to getting through together,” she said. “The reward is being able to get to that finish line and not be a plebe anymore.”

The company of plebes who demonstrated the top unit performance through endurance and spirit during the entire course will be recognized with the Iron Company award.

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