USNA Summer Training Programs Explained


Hope you are having a great Fourth of July!

With Plebe Summer starting last week for the Class of 2027, I want to share with you a summary of what I recently read about our Midshipmen summer training programs. Although most aspects are similar to our experiences, there are many new additions. This gives me confidence that USNA is providing the right training for our future Navy and Marine Corps officers. Here is what I have learned:

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.

Eight weeks of each summer are reserved for training designed to introduce Midshipmen to the operational units of the Navy and Marine Corps, life at sea and the many responsibilities of a junior officer. All midshipmen’s’ summers are broken up into three blocks – a free block, a required fleet cruise block, and a required Professional Training Event (PTE) block.

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) 

(Many more opportunities today than when we were there)

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

PTEs offer midshipmen the opportunity to learn something of interest to them! 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. There are so many interesting and invigorating fields to pursue!

(Third Class Summer) Third classmen head out to sea in the summer for three weeks in Yard Patrol vessels (YPs), journeying to several New England ports and literally learning the ropes alongside Fleet enlisted personnel. They will spend another three weeks in either 44-foot Naval Academy sailing sloops or will undergo naval tactical training, an impressive program that simulates SEAL and Marine Corps operations and provides indoctrination to the joint military arena.”

(Second Class Summer) During Second Class Summer training, Midshipmen are introduced to every major branch of the Navy and Marine Corps so they can start to decide where they will head upon commissioning. This summer is full of adventures. Midshipmen fly Navy aircraft in Pensacola, dive in a nuclear-powered submarine off the coast of Florida and patrol, infiltrate and attack mock enemy positions in the forests of Virginia with the Marine Corps. They also ride with Navy ships and submarines around the world for a four-week second class cruise, shadowing enlisted personnel and becoming part of the crew, participating in drills, executing gunnery exercises and standing watches underway. Only through direct experience can they truly get an understanding of day-to-day life out at sea. It’s an important part of working with enlisted men and women and “appreciating the talents, responsibilities and perspectives of the enlisted men and women [they] will later lead as an officer.” (Note: This is similar to our experiences as Youngsters.)

(First Class Summer) First Class summer training is when Midshipmen are most robustly prepared to take the wheel as commissioned officers. Leadership skills are tested in both arenas: the fleet and at USNA. For four to eight weeks, midshipmen will become an integral part of a Navy or Marine Corps operational unit and be trained in junior officer responsibilities. Based on their qualifications and career aspirations, they are assigned their Navy path: surface warship, submarine, aircraft carrier or aviation squadron. If they are selected for the Marine Corps, they’ll head to Quantico, Virginia, for a tough four-week officer candidate course, which is followed by a four-week tour attached to a Fleet Marine Force unit. Midshipmen who have screened for Special Warfare will go to mini-Buds for training. There are other career paths as well, and midshipmen pursuing these can apply for a four-week internship in their chosen field.

Fair winds…


Glen Woods

President, USNA Class of 1978