PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- While the majority of college students enjoy their summer freedom from classrooms and exams, midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy and Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) discover the potential to become officers in the submarine community through the summer cruise program hosted by Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC).
The 2017 Navy summer cruise programs span four months beginning in May through August.
For midshipmen visiting COMSUBPAC, the exposure to the submarine community grants them a first-hand view of the life of a submarine officer and the significant roles and responsibilities to their wardroom and their crew. By gaining an appreciation for the working conditions of the enlisted personnel and concentration on division officer responsibilities, the aim to expose and influence future naval officers to choose the desired career pipeline of submarine warfare.
“We are trying to get people who desire and are qualified to join the submarine community,” said Lt. Alexander Wunderlich, COMSUBPAC midshipmen coordinator. The submarine warfare community is a challenging career field, and the Navy has had trouble continuously filling the roles of submarine officers with motivated and intelligent candidates.
Approximately 800 students experience the rigors and rewards of being a submariner across a variety of different submarine summer cruise programs throughout different ports such as Seattle, San Diego, Pearl Harbor and Guam.
Midshipmen who are proven to be excellent submarine officer candidates may apply for programs such as Submarine Pacific Training Midshipmen Development (SUBPACTRAMID) and Submarine Professional Midshipmen Development (SUBPROMID) to learn from a more intimate and engaging experience in smaller groups.
“SUBPACTRAMID is a series of short to medium length cruises, anywhere between four days to three weeks,” said Wunderlich. “We send up to six midshipmen to fast-attack submarines (SSN) and up to nine to cruise-missile submarines (SSGN) and ballistic-missile submarines (SSBN) because they have more room. These are smaller groups to have more one-on-one time with junior officers and ask questions.”
The ranks of new submarine officers are filled by a new generation of midshipmen looking for the challenges and rewards through naval leadership.
“The thing that attracts me the most about the submarine community is the relationships between the officers and enlisted,” said Midshipmen Judith Skinker, a civil engineering student studying at Virginia Tech University. “I think the enlisted really feel needed in the submarine community because you can’t have unnecessary people who are not doing their jobs on the boat. I like how the officers treat the enlisted as crucial Sailors to the mission, and that really attracted me.”
For other midshipmen, an active and personal interaction with the crew aboard a submarine provides insight into the potential submarine officer career pipeline and importance of real leadership.
“For me, in our units, we learn a lot about what we have to do from the logistical side, what’s expected of us, how to get our qualifications, and what our pipeline will look like for our future,” said Midshipmen Olivia Rossel, a neural psychology student from Florida State University. "The experience to interact with the enlisted and understand the bigger picture and where their contributions fit in, as well as my personal leadership development, has made for a positive experience."
As for any program, the real results come from the positive feedback and highly motivated midshipmen to fill the growing needs of the submarine Navy, said Wunderlich.
“The biggest thing about this program is getting them out to sea,” said Wunderlich. “Let them see what it’s like to be on a submarine in the ocean. Let them watch the junior officers who drive a submarine and say, ‘Hey in two years, I’m going to be this officer on the periscope driving a submarine.’”
For more news from Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, visit www.csp.navy.mil.