Naval Academy rounds out year with grueling Sea Trials, Herndon Monument climb, celebratory Commissioning Week
The Capital May 17, 2022
(Tribune News Service) — "Ten hut!" It's 2:30 a.m. and time for calisthenics!
The early morning bullhorns, rolling road closures and raft races around City Dock can only mean one thing: Sea Trials are underway at the Naval Academy on Tuesday, May 17, and then Commissioning Week will be upon us.
After two years of pandemic restrictions, the academy is back to a full slate of year-end activities. As in pre-pandemic times, some events are open to the public, others are for Midshipmen and families only.
Modeled after the grueling tests that mark the end of recruitment training for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, Sea Trials force the freshmen Midshipmen, known as plebes, to hustle nonstop from the wee hours of Tuesday morning until around sunset 14 hours later.
The exacting feats can vary, depending on the seniors leading the trials, but typically plebes begin on the athletic fields with early morning calisthenics, and it gets harder from there. Plebes may crawl under barbed wire, tackle enormous tires or drag trunks of ammunition toward the goalposts. Around dawn, they hit the water for raft races, preceded by riverbank Pilates in the mud. Indoor aquatic challenges include underwater lock picking and treading water with a rifle held overhead.
The Route 450 Naval Academy Bridge will be closed from 10:45 a.m. until noon while the Midshipmen take a midday jog under duress. The afternoon brings more endurance tests. Finally, around 6 p.m., cheers of triumph should be audible across town.
With finals and Sea Trials finished, Commissioning Week officially gets underway on Friday, May 20. A complete list of activities can be found online. With the exception of graduation, the highlights below are open to the public.
— The Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center and Tours: Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday to Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday 12 to 3 p.m.
— The Naval Academy Museum: Open during Commissioning Week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
— Trident Brass Concert: Saturday, May 21, 12:15 p.m. Jazz at the Zimmerman Bandstand. Free.
— S.S. Central America Bell Dedication: Monday, May 23, 8:30 a.m. A bell recovered from one of America's most infamous maritime disasters receives a permanent home near the Herndon Monument, 165 years after Captain William Herndon and his ship perished in a North Carolina hurricane.
— Herndon Monument Climb: Monday, May 23, 9 a.m. The annual rush for freshmen to pull a plebe "cover" from the top of a 21-foot obelisk coated with Crisco.
— Blue Angels arrival, circle and rehearsal: Tuesday, May 24, Route 450 bridges close at 10:45 a.m. Arrival and circle 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Flyover rehearsal at 2 p.m. Severn River.
— Combined Glee Clubs and Gospel Choir Concert: Tuesday, May 24, 8 p.m., Chapel. $19.
— Blue Angels Flight Demonstration: Wednesday, May 25. 2 p.m. Severn River.
— Color Parade: Thursday, May 26, 11 a.m. Worden Field. Tickets required for bleacher seating
— Graduation: Friday, May 27, 10 a.m. Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Blue Angels flyover. Keynote speaker is President Joe Biden. Expect motorcades and other traffic delays.
Closure of Noah Hillman Garage may make parking more of a challenge than usual in downtown Annapolis. Academy officials recommend that families and guests attending Commissioning Week events park in the Blue (west side) lots of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and board a free shuttle to the academy. Access the lot via Taylor Avenue.
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