Navy: 'Midshipman' title at US Naval Academy will not change

Midshipmen from the 29th company celebrate after being announced the Class of 2018 Sea Trial's Iron Company at the U.S. Naval Academy May 12, 2015.


By MEREDITH NEWMAN | Capital Gazette | Published: December 8, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Tribune News Service) — Navy officials say they have decided to not change the name “midshipman” since it’s a rank not just a job title.

Last January, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus issued a memo to the chief of naval operations seeking an “update of position titles and descriptions to demonstrate through this language that women are included in these positions.”

Mabus asked for a review of “the position titles throughout the Navy and ensure that they are gender-integrated … removing ‘man’ from their titles.”

“Midshipman” will not change because it’s a rank according to U.S. law, Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter said this week. He added that officials only looked at changing the name “very briefly.”

The only change that came from the January memo was the Navy announcing that rating titles for sailors will be modernized, said Nate Christensen, spokesman for chief of naval personnel.

Navy officials said the decision, which was announced in September, will allow sailors to have more flexibility in advancement. For example, sailors will less than three years experience will be called “seamen.”

In December 2015, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that the military would welcome women into positions, specifically the Navy’s remaining all-male units. This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the integration of women at the Naval Academy.

About 25 percent of women make up the Brigade of Midshipmen. The Class of 2020 includes 331 women.

“Midshipman” has been used long before the opening of the Naval Academy in 1845. The word originally was used for those who worked or slept in a certain area of the ship, amidships. It later became a term for officers in training.

©2016 The Baltimore Sun
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