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Naval ROTC News

Since the arrival of Virginia Tech Naval ROTC (NROTC) unit’s new commanding officer, Capt. Douglas Bradley, additional training programs and a continued commitment to a warrior mindset have thrived, striving to produce the next generation of Navy and Marine Corps warfighters in one of the largest NROTC units in the country.

One of these new programs is battalion physical training (PT). This monthly event allows the battalion to come together for a morning of camaraderie, fitness, and training. Midshipmen are arranged in random groups to complete tasks and PT events, encouraging cross-unit solidarity and unit pride.

Hanna Kobayashi ’19 selects USS Milius while sitting at a table in front of a computer during the Navy's ship selection process.
Under the supervision of Growley II (call sign “Tank”), the Corps of Cadets canine ambassador, Hanna Kobayashi ’19 selects USS Milius (DDG-69), homeported in Yokuska, Japan, as part of a nationwide ship selection event for future surface warfare officers.

In February, the NROTC unit received three Conning Officer Virtual Environment (COVE) trainers. Each trainer is a virtual ship simulator that is designed to provide midshipmen with realistic navigation and seamanship training in a variety of worldwide scenarios before entry into the fleet. Virginia Tech was one of the initial five NROTC units in the nation supplied with these trainers because of the large number of officers we commission each year.

Ship Selection

This semester, our graduating surface warfare officer selects participated in ship selection. Selectees are excited to start their careers aboard ships homeported around the world upon commissioning.

“I got my first choice,” said Hanna Kobayashi ’19.

Kobayashi and 15 additional graduating midshipmen chose their future duty stations during a three-day, nationally coordinated ship selection event. She chose the USS Milius because of her positive summer training experience as a midshipman during the Japan FOREX Cruise in summer 2019.

Like many midshipmen around the country so close to commissioning during this uncertain time, Kobayashi must still undergo advanced training after graduation to prepare for her career as a surface warfare officer. She expected to receive her orders to Basic Division Officer Course and USS Milius before May.

A midshipman operates a Conning Officer Virtual Environment unit.
A midshipman operates a Conning Officer Virtual Environment unit during an underway replenishment training session off the coast of San Diego, California. The training will resume with the fall semester.

Adapting to COVID-19

With the outbreak of the COVID-19, the NROTC unit could no longer hold in-person training.

With the help of Virginia Tech’s distance learning platforms, midshipmen received training remotely. Every week, the battalion staff sent out training materials, and NROTC instructors conducted Naval Science classes virtually, allowing all midshipmen to continue progress toward commissioning and fleet service.

Midshipmen nationwide awaited the official status of summer training for 2020 with the expectation that multiple summer trainings events will be curtailed or canceled. As COVID-19 continued to disrupt schedules, staff members were working diligently to provide administrative waivers and alternate training opportunities to complete commissioning and graduation requirements.

At the direction of the Naval Services Training Command, this year’s commissioning for all 77 nationwide NROTC units was conducted virtually, a first-of-its-kind occurrence.

Marine-Option OCS

One training event that will occur this summer is the pinnacle event for an aspiring Marine-option midshipman: officer candidate school (OCS).

Unlike the logistics of sending midshipmen to multiple ships around the globe, Marine OCS takes place in one location – Quantico, Virginia – where the trainees can be quarantined for several days before training begins to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19.

A physically demanding training program, Marine OCS requires dedicated mental and physical preparation by a midshipman prior to arrival in Quantico.

Midshipman Robert Domingue ’21, the physical training instructor for Raider Company, stated he conducts personal PT “no less than 10 times per week” and routinely goes out on Marine Corps-style hikes to prepare for OCS.

His training has become more CrossFit and calisthenics-based while away from Virginia Tech, backed by weight training with his home gym equipment.

 As the physical training instructor, Domingue was still responsible for the physical training of the entire company. He sent out weekly PT plans and receives accountability from squad leaders upon completion.

In the true spirit of Ut Prosim, the dedicated midshipmen and staff of the Virginia Tech NROTC unit continue to find innovative ways to prepare midshipmen for fleet service as the nation continues to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.