By Midshipman 3rd Class Adam Campbell
University of Florida NROTC

Midshipmen from the University of Florida Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) unit in Gainesville, Fla., traveled to Naval Station Mayport, March 14. While there, the group toured the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69) and was able to practice conning a ship in a full mission bridge simulator.

As part of the NROTC program, the midshipmen submit their preferences for which warfare community they would like to enter upon commissioning. This group of midshipmen was a mix of seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshmen who have expressed interest in being a surface warfare officer. The goal of this visit was to show the midshipmen an active duty warship, and related duties that surface warfare officers perform, so they can make a more informed decision.

While aboard Vicksburg, the midshipmen were shown various areas of the ship, including the bridge, combat information center (CIC), flight deck, and "officers' country," where officer staterooms are located. During the tour, Fire Control Officer, Lt. Derek Cribbs, and Weapons Officer, Lt. Doug Ivey, discussed the responsibilities, duties, and general life of a surface warfare officer. The midshipmen said the experience and advice provided to them by Cribbs and Ivey was invaluable, as they could potentially fill those same positions in just a few years.

While at the full mission bridge simulator, the midshipmen spoke with junior officers from the USS Somerset (LPD 25) who were finishing up a week of training in the simulator. The midshipmen watched as the officers ran through different scenarios, and some performed as helmsmen for the scenarios. After the officers from Somerset completed their training, retired Navy Capt. Earl Yerger and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Kevin King had the midshipmen each take the CONN, or control of a simulated cruiser, driving the ship through simulated smoke floats, a pyrotechnic device dropped from an aircraft that emits smoke while floating on top of the water. The midshipmen then gave the orders to move alongside an oiler for an underway replenishment.

"Not only touring the ship but getting to see the daily functions and preparations that go into getting underway was highly rewarding," said Midshipman 2nd Class Kaylan King, from Jacksonville, Fla., on how the day proved to be a very valuable experience.

Today the NROTC program is overseen by Rear Adm. Dee L. Mewbourne, commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) headquartered at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill. The NROTC program was established to develop midshipmen mentally, morally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, loyalty and Navy core values. Those ideals and values are the backbone of all NROTC midshipmen as they work toward becoming college graduates and commission as Navy and Marine Corps officers who possess a basic professional background, are motivated toward careers in the Naval service and have a potential for future development in mind and character so as to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.
Mewbourne and his NSTC staff oversee 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy. This includes NROTC at more than 160 colleges and universities, Officer Training Command (OTC) on Naval Station Newport, R.I.; Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy's only boot camp, at Great Lakes, Ill.; and Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.
For more information about NROTC, visit For more information about NSTC, visit or visit the NSTC Facebook pages at