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Category:Sea Trials

Sea trials used in training contexts at the USNA is entirely a figure of speech. There are not and never have been any real sea trials at the USNA. The term used in its primary sense means the testing of new or repaired ships at sea. The USNA does not build, repair, or test ships, nor has it ever. Pictures of ships being tested are totally misplaced in this category.

Real sea trials are sometimes called "shakedown cruises" because they intend to test the limits of the ships, "shaking down" any improperly secured equipment. The term has had real meaning for such ships as the USS Thresher, a submarine constructed at Portsmouth Navy Shipyard, which broke up at great depth on its shakedown cruise with the loss of all hands.

Sea trials at the USNA means a grueling 14-hour infantry and amphibious exercise of plebes at the end of their first year to see if during the year they have acquired and can put into practice the basic skills taught them as "navy fighting men and women." Putting into practice means also functioning as a team. The teams are led by upperclassmen, who also are being tested for leadership. The trials are organized as a company competition. The company with the highest score is designated "the iron company." Many find the competition stimulating and enjoyable. It has been in place since 1998.

Each midshipman is observed and graded. They are, so to speak, "shaken down." Sea trials are only part of the continuous observation and grading of their academic, physical, and social skills. Those needing work are offered a certain amount of remedial training, but on the whole they are expected to "shape up or ship out." The constant pressure is often cruel but battle itself is crueler. Failure is not tolerated in the military, a policy endorsed if not actually started by Abraham Lincoln, who kept replacing generals until he found ones that would confront the enemy and win. If personnel problems arise the most common solution is simply discharge, of which there are many types. At the USNA, until the middle of the 20th century, discharge was for free. It has not been for some decades, but is of considerable cost to the midshipman, raising the stakes of their USNA gamble. Non-performance of duty is never without grave consequences in any military and has not been at any time in history, and not just for the individual.


This category has the following 2 subcategories, out of 2 total.

Media in category "Sea Trials"

The following 68 files are in this category, out of 68 total.