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USNA Summer Training: 2/C Gray Hull Cruise and Other Adventures

May 25, 2022 10:00:00 AM

Have you ever found yourself wondering, “do USNA students get a summer break after their spring semester is finished?” or “what do midshipmen do in the summer?” You’re not alone. While the midshipmen and this goat do get a break from our typical year, it's certainly not your average summer break—and it’s really not a break at all. In addition to undertaking a rigorous course load for the school year, the midshipmen and I stay on the Yard through most of the summer for some on-deck training through several exciting and demanding naval academy summer programs. In fact, each of the classes from just after fourth year through just after second year take part in a cruise that offers real hands-on (or “hooves-on” in my case) maritime experience, as well as off-shore training that prepares us for our future careers as naval leaders. 

To reinforce the lessons from the classrooms, athletic fields and daily Bancroft Hall experiences on the Yard, USNA’s Summer Training has a number of objectives:

  • Familiarize midshipmen with operational naval forces,
  • Further the professional development of midshipmen,
  • Provide hands-on leadership experience for 1/C, 2/C, and 3/C midshipmen,
  • Further incline midshipmen towards careers in the Navy or Marine Corps,
  • Stimulate regional and cultural awareness,
  • In concert with academic requirements, form a cohesive four-year training continuum and accomplish the Professional Core Competencies (PCC), and 
  • Meet requirements for commissioning.

Source: USNAINST 1530.IE 8 Jan 2020

2/C Midshipmen Summer of Education

There are plenty of opportunities for us to learn throughout the summer. 2/C summer training is known as the “Summer of Education.” In between the “Summer of Indoctrination” (3/C summer) and the “Summer of Immersion” (1/C summer), this summer training is crucial in learning necessary skills for our future naval careers. All mishipmen’s summers are broken up into three blocks - a free block, a required fleet cruise block, and a required Professional Training Event (PTE) block. 2/C midshipmen’s summer blocks are as follows:

Block 1: Free Block

Block 1 includes optional free leave. While some of my fellow midshipmen return home or travel, many also stay and complete additional PTEs.

Block 2: Required Fleet Cruise

Block 2 is dedicated to the Gray Hull Cruise for rising juniors; this training event is mandated by Congress. This cruise occurs on a ship or submarine for 2/C midshipmen.

Block 3: Required Professional Training Event (PTE) 

Block 3 includes a required PTE, which is designed to encourage midshipmen to learn and experience additional skills necessary to their future naval careers.

Welcome Aboard the Gray Hull Cruise

One of the highlights of the summer is our time aboard a sea-faring vessel. After our sophomore year, we’re all excited to take to the seas and get a taste of what future Navy deployments might look like. Like my ancestors before me, I love to feel the salt air in my fur. 

For about four weeks, we’ll be onboard either a ship or a submarine, shadowing enlisted personnel to get a full understanding of their responsibilities and roles and an excellent look at “a day in the life” of Fleet enlisted personnel. The training is described in this way: “You will become part of the crew, taking part in ship’s operations and drills and standing underway watches. This opportunity allows you to experience the lives of the women and men that you will eventually have the privilege to lead after commissioning.” This “education” cruise provides midshipmen with the opportunity to interact with operational naval forces while also solidifying the followership teachings of Plebe and Youngster Years. 

The Training Never Stops

PTEs offer us midshipmen and midshipgoats the opportunity to learn something of interest to us! There are many options to choose from when selecting a PTE, including a Naval Academy Summer Seminar (NASS), Naval Academy Instructional Details (NAPS Detail, Plebe Detail, etc.), Language, Regional Experience, and Culture (LREC) - International Programs Office cognizance, Powered Flight Program (PFP), small craft training (YP and sailing), enhanced Submarine Training (SUBTRAMID), Foreign Exchange (FOREX) and Tall Ship cruises, Fleet School (e.g. Dive School, Air Assault, Airborne and Mountain Warfare), Academic Internship, STEM Detail, Cyber and Intelligence program, Mandatory Summer School (MSS), Special Warfare and more. Phew—there are so many interesting and invigorating fields to pursue!

Alas, there’s no rest for the weary; after the voyage and our summer training we return back to the rigors of the Naval Academy, where we’ll resume our professional courses in our selected majors. We’ve had a taste of the sea and the hands-on off-shore training that will guide us in our future naval careers, and we’re looking forward to returning. We’re anxious to learn all we can so we can once again take to the seas. Anchors Aweigh!

If you’d like to support the Brigade of Midshipmen through their academic years and summer trainings, shop with Navyonline! All proceeds from purchases with us go directly back to the midshipmen, providing them with the materials they need to complete their summer trainings and more.

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Bill the Goat
Written by Bill the Goat

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