Oh, the places you'll SWO: Naval Academy seniors pick ships

Midshipman Michael Lemonick makes his selection during ship selection night 2015 at the U.S. Naval Academy.


By TIM PRUDENTE | The Capital, Annapolis, Md. | Published: January 30, 2015

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!
— "Oh, the Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss

Two-hundred midshipmen and 43 more,
Had so many choices up there on the boards.
Home ports in Virginia, Pearl Harbor or Spain,
Perhaps San Diego, Japan or Bahrain.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Tribune News Service) — "I know you're saying to yourself, where do I want to live?" Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden said.

Midshipmen sat before him at the U.S. Naval Academy. On stage, displayed on boards, were names of more than 150 ships to be chosen by senior (first-class) midshipmen.

"I say to myself, there's not a bad ship," Rowden said.

He walked across stage Thursday during ship selection night in the Mahan Hall theater. There were spotlights and film crews and a red velvet curtain.

"There is a world of opportunity just waiting for you," he said.

Ship selection night is part awards show, part NFL draft. The top of the class picks first. Some ships have few openings, such as the USS Donald Cook, its home port on the coast of Spain. It had two.

A military film crew streamed it all live online to families across the country, to ships around the world. Afterward, a table of swag awaited midshipmen, gifts sent by captains: water bottles and pint glasses and belt buckles and hats, all with ships' names.

"These are happy tears," Molly Hanna said, wiping her eyes after picking the USS Stockdale, its home port in San Diego. Hanna graduated in 2011 from St. Mary's High School in Annapolis.

Stockdale had only three openings: Hanna picked the last one.

Andrew Foard of Severna Park chose the USS Makin Island on advice from his girlfriend.

Foard graduated from Severn School in 2010. His girlfriend will live with him. Makin Island also has a home port in sunny San Diego.

"She had very much of a say."

These 243 midshipmen were assigned in November as surface warfare officers or "SWOs." Others assigned as Marines, submariners and Navy pilots don't pick ships.

The midshipmen cheered in their seats. Families and friends howled from the balcony. One young woman held a sign invoking Dr. Seuss: "Oh, the places you'll SWO."

Just so many ships to choose in the hall,
The USS Barry, the Cole or McFaul.
Vice admiral said that no ship is a loser,
Choose a destroyer, command ship or cruiser.
What seas await, what ports, who could know?
Oh, just imagine the places you'll SWO.


©2015 The Capital (Annapolis, Md.)
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Midshipmen Michelle Yau and Kristy Yau, during ship selection night 2015 at the U.S. Naval Academy.

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