The Naval Academy's fleet of Yard Patrol Craft (YP's) is used to provide Midshipmen with hands-on training in seamanship, navigation, naval tactics, communications, naval phraseology and standard procedures. The training provided onboard the YPs is an initial step towards achievement of the Officer of the Deck Qualification and ultimately, Command at Sea upon arrival in the Fleet.
Right now the YP Squadron consists of two different crews or "Pennants". Each Pennant has a staff of Midshipmen assigned to it, these Midshipmen are responsible for conducting the operations of the Squadron onboard their respective craft. The staff of a Pennant generally consists of the following:
- Commanding Officer - The Commanding Officer is the most experienced Midshipman aboard a YP and is the Midshipman overall responsible for the safety and conduct of the crew and vessel that they are in charge of. The Commanding Officer has demonstrated they are highly proficient not only in the arts of Seamanship and Navigation, but that they are capable of leading, training, and motivating their crew. Commanding Officers are also entitled to wear a Gold Star on the left side of all uniforms to signify their achievement.
- Executive Officer - The Executive Officer assists the Commanding Officer in executing the operations of the Squadron. The Executive Officer is an experienced Midshipman and is essential to the smooth operation of a particular Pennant. Executive Officers are also those Midshipmen that have shown great promise in eventually becoming Commanding Officers.
- Navigator - The Navigator advises the Commanding and executive Officers on all matters pertaining to the safe and efficient voyage of the crew. They are primarily responsible for the preparation of all charts and the execution of the accurate and precise navigation of the craft.
- Conning Officer - The Conning Officer is a technically experienced midshipman who has the trust and faith of not only the Midshipman Commanding Officer, but also the Officer in Charge of the vessel and the Senior Enlisted Craftmaster. The Conning Officer is responsible for the safe maneuvering of the vessel from unmooring, through the daily exercises, and returning safely to the pier.
This crew is sent out for training on the United States Naval Academy's newest class of YP, the 703 class. Featuring an updated bridge with full integration between the navigation and shiphandling team, updated electronics throughout the ship, and more realistic shiphandling for the Conning Officer, the new YPs provide the YP Squadron with unprecedented access to training as close to real warship-handling as a midshipman can get on a daily basis.