USNA tradition states that the 3rd class midshipmen are not officially
youngsters until they have sighted the Naval Academy
chapel dome upon completion of their summer cruise. Although the
YP cruise is only a few weeks long, the return to Annapolis is
similar to that of a returning deployment of ships. Alumni members,
family and friends wait on the pier next to Farragut Field to
wave in the incoming YPs and the midshipmen and crew onboard.
As the crew disembarks, they are officially youngsters and delighted
in their new status as non-plebes. While walking the yard
they observe the efforts and struggles of a new set of emerging
4th class that is NOT THEM. This is a heady sensation. They are
no longer at the bottom of the pile and it is a great relief!
Youngsters live by a new set of rules and regs. They can actually
sit down on the benches scattering the yard! Such simple
pleasures. They get to stay up later than 11pm, a privilege that
is often not exercised because exhaustion has it's limits! They
have extended town liberties although curfews remain in effect.
Youngsters can have cell phones. Even though
they have regular phones in their rooms, many Youngsters also
love the convenience of a cell phone. One of the nice things about
being a Youngster is being able to walk normally without chopping
and not having to memorize meal plans anymore. Youngsters are
allowed in the Ward Room. This means they can watch TV. Youngsters
suddenly become aware of the world news again - not as a required
recitation of two front page articles, but as an interested citizen
3rd Class is designated by one diagonal stripe on the sleeves
of their uniforms and by one diagonal stripe on their shoulder
boards. They wear an anchor pin on the right side of their collar.
(One on right
1) Plebes generally find out about their YP cruise
in the spring of their Plebe year - March or so. This of course
is subject to change. But if your Plebe is in high class standing,
they are more likely to get their request for summer assignments.
2) There are four 3 week blocks during 3rd class
summer, two of which are leave. They will spend one block on YP
cruise and a second block either at NTT (Naval Tactical Training)
or on a sailing cruise. 2nd and 1st class summers they will only
have at most a 3 week leave block, and that can get eaten away
with travel or summer school. Plebes who go to summer school have
to go for four weeks. This will only give them one block off.
3) Play it by ear if you can but your chances of
a family vacation during 3C summer are pretty good. Later summers
will depend on all the stars aligning! But it still can happen
if you don't have to plan too far in advance.
4) After Commissioning, the former Plebes are "Third
Class". They don't officially become "Youngsters"
until they return from their YP cruise and see the USNA Chapel
photos and story by Barbara Craig
During the summer between the Plebe and Youngster year, all
midshipmen are given the opportunity to discover first hand
what it is like to be in the Fleet by going on their first cruise
on a YP (Yard Patrol) craft. The photos depict what the ships
look like both inside and out. They usually travel up and down
the East Coast. Last year the class of '04 cruised up to NYC,
Newport Rhode Island, and Boston.
While aboard the mids learn about and perform
all of the operations of the ship from charting and navigation
to cooking, cleaning, and actually being at the helm. They have
a wonderful time at sea, experiencing the "real Navy"
and while in port are given liberty to explore the cities for
R&R. What a wonderful and unique opportunity for our mids!
It builds confidence and character while at the same time giving
them a break from the rigors of the classroom.
According to the USNA website:
YP Cruise - YP cruise is a one week pre-underway training
phase, followed by 2 weeks of underway training onboard one of
the Academys 110 foot yard patrol crafts. The first class
Mids act as division officers overseeing the daily routine, and
ensure training is progressing. Third class get thier first exposure
to life at sea. They get a chance to put navigation and ship handling
fundamentals learned in the classroom to actual use. The purpose
of this program is to introduce Third Class Midshipmen to life
at sea and familiarize them with shipboard routines, evolutions,
and watch standing and to develop Third Class Midshipmen peer
The cruise program consists of four three-week training blocks.
Each block will be organized into two squadrons of six or seven
YP's and is conducted in two phases: a four-day Pre-Deployment
Phase consisting of classroom and underway training at USNA, and
a fifteen-day Deployment Phase consisting of eight days underway
and seven days in port. The time spent in port will be divided
between New York, Boston, and Newport.
Onboard, Midshipmen exercise the underway watch organization,
review basic navigation skills, become familiar with bridge equipment,
and respond to mock shipboard emergencies. Each Midshipman completes
a sea survival program by swimming to and from a life raft. Basic
firefighting demonstrations are also presented. When assigned
as duty mess cooks, Mids work in the tiny galley. This job is
critical to the good health and morale of everyone onboard. Two
Third Class per day serve as mess cooks.
Mids report that there's not much space to eat, sleep or even
turn around in a YP! Certainly different than those fancy cruise
ships you may have read about or been on yourself. You may also
get reports of seasickness as these ships are very small and if
the weather is stormy, they toss around considerably.
Students get a taste of the sea and spend several days in port
either in Newport, Boston, or NYC, all great places to visit in
the summer. YP cruises are wonderful adventures - time to learn,
try new things, experience life at sea, and have some fun while
in port. So different from the grind of the classroom and being
While on their YP Cruise, Third Class Midshipmen compete to earn
the Command Assistant Competitive Award. Historically 25% of the
3/C midshipmen qualify as Command Assistant. Midshipmen who earn
this award are authorized to wear the Command Assistant Competitive
This is the link to the USNA official page on YP Cruises
0345 Relieve the Watch
0545 Call the duty mess cooks
0615 Early breakfast for watch reliefs
0645 Relieve the Watch
0700 Sweeper's (off watch section)
0730 Secure the mess line
0800 Commence ship's work
1030 Messing and berthing inspection
1100 Knock off ship's work
1115 Early dinner for watch reliefs
1145 Relieve the watch
1200 Sweeper's (off watch section)
1230 Secure the mess line
1300 Commence ship's work
1545 Relieve the Watch
1700 Secure from ship's work
1715 Early supper for watch reliefs
1745 Relieve the Watch
1800 Sweeper's (off watch section)
1830 Secure the mess line
1930 Eight O'Clock Reports
1945 Relieve the Watch
TBD Darken ship (sunset)
2200 Taps. Lights out
2345 Relieve the Watch
In Naval Tactical Training they do a lot of Marine Corps type hard core
intense training, including going to Quantico. Prospective SEAL candidates
get initially screened and it is a lot of physical work. They do night
recon missions and set ammo charges then paddle back accross the river
by moonlight. They may rappel down walls, and do covert team insertions.
Just think about the John Clark character in the Tom Clancy books and
play spy, grunt, combat tactics, hide out in the woods, etc. If your Mid
is into the physically demanding, rough and tumble, beat yourself and
everybody else up kind of thing, this is wonderful stuff.
Youngsters are in a difficult academic year. There's not much time
for anything more than schoolwork and sports. They stay really busy.
It is possible to change majors if the work is really too difficult.
But usually major switching happens within a division (from Aerospace
Engineering to Ocean Engineering). It's also possible to move from one
division to another (from Engineering to Humanities), but practically
impossible to move from History (Humanities) to Naval Architecture (Engineering).
Keeping up with the academics is the major responsiblity of their Youngster
year at the Naval Academy.
Youngster also have their own Plebers assigned to them, but having
just come out of the Plebe category themselves, they tend not to exercise
superiority or harsh discipline. Those are more the providence of upperclassmen
in the ranks above Youngster.
Although many Plebes don't vote, taking their civic responsiblities
to heart means they need to vote whether it's a national election or
an "off year" election. Since most Mids are not legally Maryland
residents, that means getting absentee ballots and mailing them in.
You can find lots of information at http://lsnaux.intecwash.navy.mil/dav/lsn/LSN/BINARY_RESOURCE/BINARY_CONTENT/1300581.pdf
to help get them the information they need to fulfill the adult respnsibility
Third Classman continue in academics where the previous year left off,
but they begin to branch off into their chosen majors. All students take
the same courses in the first year at USNA. They choose a major during
the spring semester of their Plebe year. At the begining of their third
class year, they are enrolled in the coursework of their major. Professional
courses continue with Navigation and Naval Leadership.
During Commissioning Week, the Plebes climb Herndon, the Second Class
promenade through Ring Dance and the Firsties graduate. The Luau is designed
to give the Youngsters something to blow off steam and relax. They design
their own t-shirt and wear Hawaiian leis and shorts. There is plenty of
food and music to please everyone. They lounge all over Sherman Field
on Hospital Point. Commissioning week is a time of celebration, reflection
and relaxation. The Youngsters manage this in their own style. If you
are in town, join them and marvel at their capacity to enjoy. They are
a pleasure to watch.