Navy ROTC Summer Cruise

Midshipmen 3/c Brian Foley

Navy ROTC Training on DestroyerNavy ROTC Summer Training is called a “Summer Cruise”, but don’t let the name fool you. The government isn’t sending its future military leaders on a luxury Carnival vacation. There are no hot tubs, late mornings, or water slides. Instead, the military is sending aspiring Naval and Marine Officers to attain valuable military training. This year 26 members of the MIT Old Ironsides Battalion – 16 from MIT, 8 from Harvard, and 2 from Tufts - participated in Summer Cruises.

Rising sophomores in the program typically go to CORTRAMID (Career Orientation and Training for Midshipmen), where they spend four weeks being introduced to the four major communities – Marines, Aviation, Surface Warfare, and Submarine Warfare – that they may go into after graduation. Rising junior and senior Navy Options usually go on cruises geared towards a specific community. On these cruises they spend time with a military unit, interacting and contributing to that unit as a member of the crew.

Midshipman Colin Dickinson, a junior in the Battalion, spent his cruise on a destroyer (USS Higgins) in the Persian Gulf. There he endured temperatures of 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit daily and met a number of Iraqi soldiers and American sailors. Dickinson noted that the experience was unlike anything he had ever done before and came out of it stating, “I was impressed by the incredible work ethic of all on board, especially the enlisted, and have garnered a tremendous amount of respect for everyone onboard the Higgins.”

Navy ROTC ParticipantsMarine Options in the battalion face a very different, yet equally rewarding summer experience. Three members of the Battalion went to Officer Candidate School (OCS) this year, including MIT juniors William Dougherty and Nathaniel Keegan. OCS is a grueling training process in which Marine Candidates undergo constant leadership evaluation. Furthermore, they learn military subjects, such as land navigation, and participate in a rigorous physical training program. During their time at OCS, Marine Candidates are subject to circuit training, obstacle courses, and 3-12 mile hikes with full combat gear.Here’s how a Harvard Marine Option, Sergeant Taylor Evans, describes his six weeks at OCS:

"OCS was a great learning experience. During my time there … I developed a confidence in my ability to lead people and make decisions. That's what OCS is really all about - learning how to make decisions. They teach you to set the example, to manage details effectively, and to carry yourself with confidence… It was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting, but … ultimately made me better."

As a rising sophomore in the Navy ROTC program, I naturally went to CORTRAMID this summer. My experience can only lead me to affirm what many other Midshipmen have stated. A Navy Summer Cruise is an invaluable opportunity - an opportunity that has made me look forward to the prospect of future summer cruises and the prospect of serving as an officer in the Navy.