Ten facts about the U.S. Naval Academy

By Brian JeffriesCapital Gazette•Aug 24, 2022 at 5:00 am

The U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis is one of five service academies in the country.

Here are some facts about the Naval Academy:

1) The academy was founded on Oct. 10, 1845

George Bancroft, an American politician and statesman, served as Secretary of the Navy from March 1845 to September 1846. Early in his tenure, Bancroft established the U.S. Naval Academy, making it the second oldest service academy in the country behind only the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

The school educates midshipmen for service in the officer corps of the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps.

Bancroft’s legacy lives with his name affixed to the dormitory on the Yard that houses the entire Brigade of Midshipmen.

Vice Adm. Sean S. Buck became the 63rd superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy on July 26, 2019.

2) It’s home to roughly 4,500 midshipmen

Approximately 1,200 first-year midshipmen, or plebes, enter the academy each summer at Induction Day and undergo the grueling Plebe Summer, a six-week crash course of physical and mental training.

Over four years, students are considered officers-in-training as they learn from a broad curriculum that grades them on academic performance, military leadership and mandatory participation in competitive athletics.

About 1,100 mids graduate each year in May during Commissioning Week. Most are commissioned in the Marine Corps or the Navy.

3) The academy covers 338 acres

The Naval Academy campus, known as the Yard, is located at the mouth of the Severn River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay.

The Yard has grown substantially over the years, expanding from roughly 10 acres at its founding in 1845 to 338 acres today. To accommodate its growing need for space, the academy has periodically annexed outlying areas such when it razed the neighborhood of Hell Point in downtown Annapolis during World War II in the 1940s. Still, the academy is comparatively smaller than the other service campuses and is the only one adjacent to a city.

4) During the Civil War the academy moved to Rhode Island but returned in 1865

In the turmoil that gripped the country after the Civil War broke out in 1861, the superintendent, Capt. George S. Blake, moved the Naval Academy to Newport, Rhode Island. On April 25, 1861, the frigate USS Constitution carried midshipmen to Newport where classes convened on May 13. The school continued there for the remainder of the war until on Aug. 9, 1865, the academy returned to Annapolis. By war’s end, 400 graduates had served in the Union Navy and 90 in the Confederate Navy. Twenty-three graduates were killed in battle.

5) Bancroft Hall is considered the largest dormitory in the world

It’s an Annapolis building so exclusive that thousands apply every year in hopes of living there for four years.

The sprawling dormitory is home to more than 4,000 young men and women and is a veritable self-contained city with 1,700 dorm rooms, a 5,500-square-foot cafeteria and almost 5 miles of corridors. The place is so big it has its own ZIP code: 21412.

Its residents fondly refer to it as “Mother B” or “Mother Bancroft.”

6) John Paul Jones is buried at the Naval Academy

The father of the American Navy died alone in his Paris apartment in 1792. John Paul Jones, the legendary commander from the American Revolution, was buried in a Paris cemetery that was sold, forgotten and paved over. More than 100 years later his casket was found and shipped to Annapolis where it arrived with full naval escort in 1905.

Today Jones’ remains rest in a lavish, 21-ton marble sarcophagus with bronze dolphins and sea plants located in a crypt beneath the academy chapel.

7) The Naval Academy’s acceptance rate is 9%; the graduation rate, 89.6%

According to U.S. News and World Report, the Naval Academy is the top public school and the sixth-best national liberal arts college. As a result, the academy is difficult to get into, with an acceptance rate of about 9%.

To be accepted into the Naval Academy applicants must be at least 17 and not have passed their 23rd birthday on July 1 of the year they are admitted. Midshipmen can’t be married, pregnant or have children.

The 2020 graduation rate was 89.6%, according to the academy.

8) Woman have been admitted since 1976

In 1975, Congress authorized women to attend service academies for the first time. The following year, in 1976, 81 women were admitted to the U.S. Naval Academy, including Janie Mines, the only Black woman among them.

Today, women account for about a quarter of each graduating class.

9) It costs midshipmen nothing to attend the academy

The tuition for midshipmen is fully funded by the Navy. In return, mids have a minimum five-year active-duty obligation upon graduation.

10) Applicants must receive a nomination from their local congress member or the vice president in order to apply

In applying to the Naval Academy candidates must also receive a nomination, typically from a member of Congress or the vice president. Applying for a nomination is a separate process from applying to the academy. Typically, about 5,000 candidates receive nominations. But only 1,400 appointments, or invitations to attend the academy, are given out.