USNA Class of 2021 Select First Ships
POSTED ON: Friday, February 5, 2021 4:10 PM by MC3 Thomas Bonaparte Jr.
Two hundred and seventy-three midshipmen assigned to become surface warfare officers (SWOs) upon commissioning, selected their first ship and homeport during the U.S. Naval Academy’s annual ship selection night in Alumni Hall, Feb. 4.
“The Class of 2021 will have the great responsibility of leading Sailors toward success amidst the Navy’s push to further outthink and outfight our competitors in this decade,” said Vice Adm. Roy Kitchner, commander, Naval Surface Forces Pacific, and graduate of the Class of 1985, the evening’s guest speaker. “Opportunity awaits behind every ship placard on this stage. Adventure, camaraderie and the ultimate responsibility of our country’s treasure. I challenge all of you to seize one of these opportunities and do great things!”
Ship selection is typically a night filled with friends, family, and guests celebrating the next milestone for the Class of 2021, but due to restrictions set forth by the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was only attended by the SWO selectees, a limited number of guests from the Navy SWO community, USNA leadership, and a select number of admirals from the fleet. Midshipmen sat socially distanced in the auditorium, but similar to years past, midshipmen picked their ships by walking on the stage and selecting their desired placard from a board containing each possible billeted position.Midshipmen select their ship in designated order by their overall order of merit (OOM), which is their overall rank within the Brigade, based on categories including academics, conduct, aptitude and physical readiness. Midshipmen are permitted to choose ships only from the placards remaining on the board at the time they are called. After graduation and commissioning, these midshipmen will report to their first ship and be in charge of any number of shipboard operations and activities while at sea.
“This moment was the culmination of everything I’ve been working towards since Plebe Summer,” said Midshipman 1st Class Madeleine Cooke. “I’m appreciative of this opportunity. Even though my family couldn’t be here, I’m glad that they were able to watch the livestream.”
Typically, the board is speckled with red, white, blue, green, and yellow placards. Missing this year are the blue placards, known as “blue chips.” Blue chips represent a direct invitation from a specific ship’s commanding officer for midshipmen, who excelled during summer cruise, to return to that command upon commissioning. Due to COVID-19, there were no summer cruises last year and therefore no blue chip placards available.
“This yellow placard is sending me right where I always wanted to go,” said Midshipman 1st Class David Toussaint. “I picked up USS Rushmore out of Sasebo, Japan. It was actually one of the last SWO (nuclear) options on the board and I’m lucky to have grabbed it.”
White placards are eligible to conventional SWO, and SWO engineering duty officer (EDO) selectees only. A yellow placard is available to Conventional SWO, SWO(nuclear), and SWO EDO selectees. Green placards are only eligible for midshipmen assigned to the information warfare community. A red placard is only available to SWO(nuclear) selectees, who will attend Navy nuclear power training after earning their surface warfare pin.
Traditionally, the first midshipmen to make selections from the international homeports of Japan and Spain, are presented with ceremonial tokens from the visiting officers in attendance representing those regions.
As the undergraduate college of our country's naval service, the Naval Academy prepares young men and women to become professional officers of competence, character, and compassion in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.