U.S. Naval Academy’s 2016 Ship Selection Night

It’s a big night for approximately 250 U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen in the Class of 2016 who will serve as surface warfare officers (SWOs) upon graduation and commissioning.

They’ll pick their first ship and homeport during the academy’s annual Ship Selection Night, which you can watch below. It’s scheduled to start tonight (Jan. 28) at 6:30 p.m. ET. You can follow on social media using #ShipSelection.

So, what goes into those ship and homeport picks? Three future USNA surface warfare officers explained their decisions to Navy Live.

Midshipman 1st Class Mikaela Carlson, SWO

Midshipman 1st Class Mikaela CarlsonWhat is more important to you – homeport or platform – and why?

Both played a role in my decision. I want to select an amphib, but also live in year-round warm weather. Those are probably the two biggest factors.

What platform do you want to select and why?

I want to select an LPD because it is the smallest amphibious ship, but still bigger than a cruiser or a destroyer. I like the idea of having more people on board and having a mix of Marines and aviators as well so you get some interaction with more than just the surface warfare community.

What homeport do you want to select and why?

I want to select San Diego. San Diego is best of all worlds: It has the beach, the city, the mountains, the desert, and great weather year round. Being from the Midwest and having lived on the East coast for the past four years, I really wanted to explore the West Coast.

What led you to select the surface warfare community?

The surface warfare community has a lot of flexibility and keeps expanding the career paths officers can choose. I also like the idea of going straight to your ship and being thrown into the fire.

What do you look forward to doing as a SWO?

Meeting new people, exploring the world, and watch!

Midshipman 1st Class Deborah Mullen, SWO (Nuclear)

Midshipman 1st Class Deborah Mullen, SWO (Nuclear)What is more important to you – homeport or platform – and why?

Homeport was by far was the most important to me. No matter what ship I am on in the world I will be leading a division of incredible U.S. Sailors, getting my quals, and standing a lot of watch … there is not much control that I have over that. What I do have control over is where I get to go home after the day is done. For me, I fell in love with sunny San Diego from the first day I visited, and there was no doubt in my mind that this is the homeport I would select for my first ship.

What platform did you want to select and why?

I was blessed to have been given incredible youngster and 1/C summer cruises, during both of which I was underway on a DDG. The summer after my plebe year I spent several weeks underway with the crew of USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), which was on her maiden voyage deployed to 5th Fleet. This past summer I cruised down the West Coast on USS Gridley (DDG 101). Both cruises enabled me to get some solid underway experience, and I became very comfortable with the layout of a destroyer. I like the size of the crew and wardroom, as well as the missions that are specific to a DDG.

What led you to select the surface warfare community?

My father graduated in the Class of 1980, and he is a retired SWO. Growing up hearing his “sea stories” and playing with his foreign coin collection on rainy days as a kid truly inspired me to want to one day travel all around the world. Additionally, as I went through the academy, I began to realize that if I wanted to experience the hands-on leadership we were being trained for here in Annapolis, going SWO would place me in front of Sailors about a month after graduation. I wanted that opportunity and challenge.

What do you look forward to doing as a SWO?

One of the best semesters I ever had as a midshipman was when I was a squad leader. I simply love small unit leadership – having handful of people directly underneath me that I get to know on a personal level and really take care of. More than anything, I am so excited to own a division on my ship and lead the Sailors with whom I have been entrusted. I see that as such an incredible honor, and I am humbled at the thought of my job come June. Besides being the best division officer I can be, I am really excited to travel around the world, visiting different ports and sending my family awesome post cards!

Why Nuke SWO?

I see SWO (N) as an opportunity to capitalize on many of my strengths. Like my father, I have a desire to work with Sailors on board a ship and sail around the world. Like my older sister, (Class of 2014 and training to be a submariner) I have always enjoyed going to school and I never shy away from an opportunity to further my education. Nuke School will indeed be difficult, but the knowledge I gain in Charleston will not only aid me for my future job onboard a U.S. carrier, but will also serve as an incredible foundation for an amazing carrier after my service to the Navy.


Midshipman 1st Class Jett Watson, SWO

Midshipman 1st Class Jett Watson, SWOWhat is more important to you – homeport or platform – and why?

Platform was most important, but home-port is almost equal (and luckily, they match!)

What platform did you want to select and why?

I want to select an LCS, specifically an Independence variant. The thing that’s stuck in my head since PROTRAMID during my 2/C summer was walking onto USS Freedom (LCS 1), heading up to the bridge, and having to walk around the CO, who was on his hands and knees sweeping dirt out of the corners of the passageway. Something about that really stuck with me. In such a small crew, everyone wears many hats and performs many jobs, and nobody is too high or mighty to do something as simple as sweep. That mentality might not be for everyone, but I like it a lot.

What homeport did you want to select and why?

I’m planning on selecting San Diego, mostly because that’s where the majority of the LCS billets are, but also because I love the city and the missions that come with the West Coast Navy. The Pacific is huge, and I haven’t experienced a lick of it.

What led you to select the surface warfare community?

I originally chose the surface warfare community because there was nothing else that really appealed to me. My dad was a Marine, so I had a pretty good idea of how I would (or in my case, wouldn’t) particularly fit. Aviation seemed interesting, but my few minutes of stick-time – again during PROTRAMID – did not give me that feeling of “Oh, this is what I want to do forever.” Before my 1/C cruise, I was still sort of torn between surface and subs. That cruise definitely chose for me. Standing watch at night on the bridge in the Mediterranean Sea, conning a billion-dollar warship, even just hanging out with the Boatswain’s Mates onboard – it felt right.

What do you look forward to doing as a SWO?

I look forward to having a new experience every day as a SWO. There’s so much to learn, and a lot of people to learn from, and there will always be people to teach. That is what is most exciting to me.

What ship and homeport would you pick? Tell us why in the comments below!