Story Number: NNS140701-22Release Date: 7/1/2014 3:37:00 PM
By Lt. j.g. Donald V. Recine III, USS Porter Public Affairs Officer
ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy embarked the ballistic missile defense (BMD) destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) June 24 for a four-week summer training experience.
The 17 embarked Midshipmen included three members of the Naval Academy Class of 2015, and 14 members of the Class of 2017. Due to Porter's underway schedule, they embarked the ship while at sea via a small boat transfer from Virginia Beach.
"The ride in the ship's rigid-hull inflatable boat, or RHIB, was a unique way to start the summer cruise and board the ship," said Midshipman 3rd Class Sierra Knoch from Annapolis, Maryland.
Once aboard, the Midshipmen were greeted by Lt. j.g. Biancia Bell, Porter's Damage Control Assistant and Midshipmen Training Officer.
A 2011 graduate of the Naval Academy, Bell said, "We were at sea for our extended shakedown period, so it is a perfect time for the Midshipmen to see our ship execute almost every mission and experience surface warfare."
Events scheduled during the almost month-long underway include a full-power demonstration with the engineering plant, multiple gun shoots, several underway replenishments and testing of almost every weapons system.
"Porter Sailors are excited to show off our ship to the Midshipmen, and we fully integrated them with the crew from their first minute onboard," said Cmdr. Dave Richardson, Porter commanding officer and a Naval Academy graduate from the Class of 1995.
Porter paired each Midshipman with a different Sailor each week during the month-long embarkation, giving them exposure to different parts of the ship and the daily life of Sailors in each department. Operations Specialist 2nd Class Shahida Virella, who was paired with a Midshipman for the first week, said, "on this ship, whether you are here for one month or three years, we consider everyone part of the Porter Family."
The Midshipmen started their summer training experience with a brief by the commanding officer that laid out expectations and goals for the program. In honor of the ship's hull number, each Midshipman was presented with a specially-tailored Personnel Qualification Standard (PQS) with 78 line items.
"We want the Midshipmen to fully experience life on a front-line BMD destroyer, and to understand the importance of our mission, the rigor of daily life at sea, and most importantly, the quality of the Sailors they will soon lead after graduation," said Richardson.
The "Midshipman Porter PQS" lists various tasks that each must accomplish during their summer cruise, and is tailored to expose future naval officers to all parts of the ship. The PQS tasks range from standing an hour of watch with the Sailor on duty as Sounding and Security in the engineering spaces to assisting a Food Service Attendant in Supply Department. The assignments also include each Midshipman conducting a Zone Inspection of one space on the ship with the captain or the executive officer. The PQS also lists several fun tasks, such as attending an Ice Cream Social on the Messdecks and enjoying a Movie Night in the Wardroom.
"I have only been on board a few days and I have already seen and experienced so much," said Midshipman 3rd Class Chanin Cooley of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. "Within hours of arriving, I was in the pilot house standing watch as helmsman. Driving a destroyer is awesome."
"Having these Midshipmen on board has already created a huge buzz around the ship," said Porter Command Master Chief, Allen Keller. "They are motivated to be here and we are excited to show them everything the Surface Navy offers. Honestly, because they are such a great group, we are hoping that at least one of these 17 decides to become a Surface Warrior after graduation and join the Porter family for many years to come."
Porter recently completed a year-long maintenance availability for repairs and upgrades to combat systems that included the BMD installation. The ship is slated to homeport shift and forward deploy to Rota in 2015, joining USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) and USS Ross (DDG 71).
For more news from Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/surflant/.