Atlantic Professional Afloat Training (LANTPAT)
POSTED ON: Friday, October 12, 2018 9:53 AM by MC2 Burke
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Each year, the United States Naval Academy uses the summer training period to advance the professional development of midshipmen through a variety of immersive experiences.
Commonly referred to as YP summer cruises, the Atlantic Professional Afloat Training, or LANTPAT, offers midshipmen practical training in navigation, seamanship, and engineering aboard the Academy’s Yard Patrol (YP) craft.
This provides midshipmen with invaluable underway training in a realistic maritime environment, allowing them the opportunity to hone their leadership skills in preparation for their upcoming roles as leaders in the fleet.
“I want them to take away what it's like to be on the bridge of a warship and understand how that works,” said Lt. Dean Zettler, Instructor in the Seamanship and Navigation Division. “Because when they get to the fleet and they step on that boat they're going to be expected to know what that's like. They're going to be instantly elevated to the role of the conning officer. I want them to leave this experience and be able to have some feet under them when they get to their ship.”
This year was also the first time ROTC students were invited to take part in the LANTPAT program. ROTC and international students mixed with academy midshipmen from each academic year group whose skillsets and experience levels vary from first timers to 3rd-year returnees.
“We understand that there are a lot of people coming in with different skill sets, so we really train for this program from the bottom up,” said Lt. Zettler.
LANTPAT is divided into three distinct phases.
Before moving to underway training, phase one is primarily a classroom environment, in simulators, or aboard YPs as they are pier side. Here, students learn their roles and responsibilities, navigation principles, standard commands, rules of the road, maritime pennants, and plotting.
Phase two reinforces and builds upon phase one with ship familiarization and egress, damage control equipment uses and techniques, sea survival training, man overboard training, naval communication and more.
At the completion of phase two, an out-of-area assessment is conducted aboard each YP. This provides assurance to the chain-of-command that midshipmen can demonstrate watch-team proficiency and that material readiness is sufficient to support safe and sustained operations throughout their deployment.
Phase three is a culmination of phases one and two where midshipmen take charge of all operations of their ship as they transit to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Newport, Rhode Island and return to Annapolis upon completion.
According to Zettler, the integration of ROTC students has been expansive to the program’s dynamic leadership experience.
“It's been very successful so far,” said Zettler. “They (ROTC students) are definitely driven. They all want to be here and they are really interested and enthusiastic about the training. They really want to learn all the tricks of the trade.”
Many students expressed multiple benefits from their interaction among ROTC, Academy midshipmen, and International students.
“I think it's really benefit[ted] me to see how other nation’s navies are trained and even how different the Naval Academy is from ROTC,” said Midshipmen 1st Class Vincent Zehentbauer, from Hanoverton, Ohio, Ohio State University ROTC. “I think that it's very important to establish relationships with the Naval Academy midshipman knowing that we will be in the fleet with them one day. They've been very gracious to us: helping us out on the campus of the academy and as well as helping the foreign exchange students.”
“It's really nice to have both the international and the ROTC students here,” said Midshipman 1st Class, Hayden Burger, from Ocean Park, Washington, USNA midshipman. “It's not just because they bring fresh energy, but they also bring different perspectives. Before talking to these guys, I didn't really know all that much about the ROTC programs and what life was like for them. So seeing as I'm going to be working alongside them as soon as I graduate, it's good to have this experience now to know what they're like—get used to them and their personalities because they're very different from academy mids in good ways honestly. It's good to have that variety and it's nice to interact with them here while we're training.”
“It's nice to get to know people from all over the U.S., because I was able find out that there are cultural differences between the different states,” said Ens. Jonas Hoffman, an international student from Germany earning credits toward a master’s degree. “For example, people from the South, like Texas or Oklahoma, or people from the West Coast versus people from the East Coast. It was also good to get to know people from ROTC, from civil universities, who know the difference between the Naval Academy and normal colleges in the U.S.”
Aside from spending quality time with their classmates underway and in fun ports, the training also allowed midshipmen the opportunity to interact with local communities when they were pierside.
“Today we’re showing small groups of people around the deck of the ship and in the pilot house, explaining the roles of the conning officer, the officer of the deck, and the ship’s systems so they have a better idea of how the ship is driven,” said Zehentbauer. “We also answer any questions they may have about the Navy in general.”
“I think it allows the public to understand what we do at the academy because we come down here for movement orders all the time, but they don't really know why we're here or what we're trying to accomplish,” said Midshipman 3rd Class Caitlyn Thompson, from Fort Worth, Texas, USNA midshipman. So by taking them on the boat, showing them midshipmen are running the charts, driving of the ship and everything, it allows them to see their Navy is in good hands when it comes to commissioning. Because we are getting hands-on experience when it comes to surface warfare: developing a plan of action, instilling an overall sense of urgency, and understanding mission set.”
With a focus on the development of small-unit leadership, midshipmen manage watch schedules, ship cleanliness, and food preparation in addition to ensuring safe navigation and transit between ports.
“I think it was very valuable experience,” said Burger. “I certainly took a lot of leadership lessons. I messed up a lot of times and I think it's great to do that in a small environment like this where you know it's not near lethal whereas trying to learn all that stuff right when you're first going into the fleet.”
Midshipmen Burger went on to explain how he benefited by returning to LANTPAT for a second year.
“Last year I was navigator. There were a lot of very specific tasks and missions that I had to do: every underway I knew I would have to prepare the navigation briefs, get the charts in line, and make sure all the cons and navigators for the various watch teams were prepped and knew what we were doing. So it was a very cyclical, similar mission every time.”
Burger expressed the opportunity to fill a different billet, as executive officer, provided him with new skills.
“It was more of a challenging experience,” said Burger. “You never knew what was about to hit you. I'd wake up in the middle of the night: something is messed up in the kitchen, you had to go clean that up; someone needs help on the watch teams or I’d need to fix a watch bill error…I made plenty of mistakes, and I learned from them. It was pretty rocky at the beginning and we had a lot of people shifting around: finding jobs they are good at; finding jobs they definitely weren't good at; learning where to put people in the right places, but we jelled pretty quickly. And I think if I had just done a job I was good at already, I probably wouldn’t have gotten anything out of it, so I'm real happy with how it turned out.”
According to Burger, their ship encountered a large amount of engineering casualties during the trip.
“It seemed like we got something new thrown at us every single time and eventually we were able to cope with it,” said Midshipman 1st Class Tatiana Brown, from Patuxent River, Maryland, Purdue ROTC. “I think that was probably the best part, learning—it was a constant learning environment.”
“I think the casualties actually ended up being a very bonding experience,” said Burger. “It was us versus the cruise and we came out on top. We managed to make it all the way up through all the ports and all the way back and we're still here, so we're happy.”
“They're running the show and that's maybe the first time a midshipman has had that opportunity,” said Zettler. “And you kind of see the light bulb come on and they realize how fun it is to be a watch officer.”
“It was a great training,” said Burger. “It was a challenging training. This was probably most developmental month I've had during my time here at the academy.”
LANTPAT Video Story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zi7AoXbCEZA&feature=youtu.be