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ASU Midshipmen ships to set sail

Pictured is Midshipman First Class Trent Warner, an electrical engineering major
February 28, 2013

One phone call was all it took to decide the future for two of Arizona State University’s Naval ROTC Midshipmen, First Class Trent Warner and David Gayle, Jr.

Tapping those digits marked a hallmark moment for these aspiring Surface Warfare Officers in the Navy as they transition from midshipmen to officers – the selection of their ships. A choice that puts in place how and where they will spend their next few years, and the ship and crew that will forge and temper them into qualified officers.

While they are the very first from ASU to choose their ships, Warner and Gayle are among hundreds of midshipmen across the country gearing up for commissioning ceremonies, checking ship listings to see which ships are available, and making calls with a hope that their rankings nationally are high enough to snag a dream ship and port to call home. 

So which ship which is the perfect one? There are 285 ships in the U.S. Navy: cruisers, carriers, destroyers, frigates, submarines, mine warfare ships, littoral combat ships, mobile logistics ships and other surface warships.

Midshipman First Class Warner, an electrical engineering major, was selected to represent the elite Surface Warfare Officer corps trained in nuclear propulsion at the Navy Nuclear Power School. He chose the guided missile destroyer, USS Preble (DDG 88), which is stationed in San Diego, Calif. When asked why he chose the Preble instead of another ship type such as a cruiser, Warner replied “when it comes to ships, a cruiser is like a sports car – all expensive and fancy to drive, but still not a destroyer; a destroyer is like a true American muscle car – it’s got the engine power . . . she’s fast and sexy.”

Midshipman First Class Gayle, a speech and hearing science major, will earn his qualification as a Surface Warfare Officer on the cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. A Phoenix native, Gayle looks forward to the adventure of moving to the east coast and joining a more traditional Navy atmosphere. He chose Monterey because she is scheduled to deploy soon after he reports aboard, giving him the opportunity to qualify quickly. Coincidentally, this is only the beginning of the family relationships that the Surface Warfare community values. Both Midshipman Gayle and Warner are currently engaged and will also start their new lives with their soon-to-be wives as well as the Navy.

Typically the qualification process takes about a year to 18 months of intense training, then the two candidates are awarded their Surface Warfare pin. Surface Warfare is one of five qualifications an officer in the Navy can get after getting their commission from Naval ROTC. The others are Seal, Naval Aviator (like the character Maverick in the movie "Top Gun"), Naval Flight Officer, Submarine (like in "Hunt for Red October"), and Surface Warfare (drivers of ships, as in "Battleship"), explained Commander Erich Schmidt, assistant professor of Naval Science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“The Sea Devil Battalion and ASU Naval ROTC unit have exploded out of the starting blocks. We have commissioned two Marine Officers to date and by this summer will have commissioned Warner and Gayle along with three Naval Aviator candidates, a Naval Flight Officer candidate, and two more Marine Officers. All represent the beginning of the ASU legacy in the Fleet and Fleet Marine Force,” he added. “Go Devils!”

Written by MIDN 2/C Rachelle Edwards

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