The first step for incoming fourth-class midshipmen is orientation. This weeklong program introduces new midshipmen to Navy life and prepares them for the challenges they will face as they are put in the unique position of simultaneously seeking a college degree and a commission in the United States Navy or Marine Corps. During orientation, midshipmen are instructed in ROTC policies, basic drill, uniform and grooming standards, and physical readiness. Midshipmen are introduced to the different career opportunities the Department of the Navy has to offer. Orientation includes tours of ships based in Mayport, Florida, aircraft squadrons at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, and submarines and a Marine security detachment at Kings Bay, Georgia. This exciting week is a great time to get to know your fellow midshipmen. The bonds formed at orientation often last all the way through a midshipman’s years at the University of Florida and beyond.
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The first year is always a great time at the University of Florida. While new midshipmen grow familiar with classes and college life, they also grow familiar with the Navy and Marine Corps team. Fourth-class midshipmen must first learn to lead by following. New midshipmen take classes in basic military knowledge and history. Along with the rest of the Battalion, they develop their knowledge of drill and develop their overall physical readiness through physical training sessions and a weekly afternoon drill period. The best naval officers are well-rounded individuals. New midshipmen are encouraged to get involved with the many opportunities that the University of Florida and the greater Gainesville community have to offer. A student can choose from a myriad of volunteer organizations, intramural sports, student groups and clubs, and fraternities and sororities to choose from. Participation in any of these groups can help to get the most out of a person’s time at the University of Florida. The Naval ROTC Battalion is a great resource during this time. Class advisors and fellow battalion members can help ensure that the transition to college life is going smoothly both academically and personally.
CORTRAMID stands for “Career Orientation and Training of Midshipmen”. During this four-week period, scholarship midshipmen are introduced to many of the warfare communities within the Department of the Navy. Midshipmen spend a week on a surface ship, a week with an aviation squadron, a week on a submarine, and a week with the Marines. CORTRAMID is not only an opportunity to travel and get hands-on training; it is also a great opportunity to meet midshipmen from across the country. Whether it is flying in an aircraft or riding in the turret of an Amphibious Assault Vehicle, midshipmen often come back with great stories and the photos to prove them! Many (if not most) midshipmen consider CORTRAMID to be the most fun of all the summer cruises.
Midshipmen have now had an entire year to decide whether or not Naval ROTC and the Navy/Marine Corps team is right for them. Once a midshipman has sworn in at the beginning of sophomore year, leaving the program will mean repayment of scholarship money and/or enlistment in the Navy to recover the cost of training and educating the midshipman. It is during this year that midshipmen take on increased leadership opportunities.
SECOND CLASS CRUISE
All rising second-class Navy midshipmen on scholarship will have the opportunity to go on a second-class cruise. The cruise, also known as an enlisted appreciation cruise, will acclimate midshipmen to the daily routine aboard a ship or submarine. Midshipmen will spend up to a month with a ship or submarine. Often times these ships and subs are deployed and underway. University of Florida midshipmen have been seen port visits as far away as Scotland or Japan! During the cruise, the midshipmen will be assigned a “running mate”; the running mate is usually an experienced enlisted Sailor. The midshipman will essentially be a part of the crew and will gain an understanding of life as an enlisted Sailor.
During the junior year, a midshipman will be involved in the day-to-day operation of the Battalion. At the University of Florida, it is the midshipmen who are responsible for planning and carrying out events. Of course, Battalion members continue to learn unarmed drill and improve their physical readiness. It is also during this year that Marine Option midshipmen will prepare themselves for the rigors of Officer Candidate School. All those seeking a commission in the United States Marine Corps will attend OCS in Quantico, VA during the summer before their senior year.
FIRST CLASS CRUISE
While Marine Option midshipmen are busy at OCS in Quantico, Navy Option midshipmen are busy with a summer program of their own. All Navy Option midshipmen, regardless of scholarship status, must attend a first-class cruise. The first-class cruise serves to give Navy midshipmen insight into the life of a junior officer. Again, midshipmen are paired with a running mate, this time a junior officer. Midshipmen may complete their first class cruise aboard a ship, aboard a submarine, or with an aviation squadron (either ashore or afloat). Once again, midshipmen selecting ships or submarines often make port visits. Those selecting aviation cruises often come back with a few flights under their belts. A few other cruise opportunities exist, such as a foreign-exchange cruise or mini-BUD/S. Midshipmen interested in such cruises should contact their class advisors.
Senior year is an exciting time for ROTC midshipmen. Of course, seniors often hold leadership billets and determine the success of the ROTC unit. Furthermore, first-class midshipmen select which community they would like to join in the Navy. Service assignments are sent out during the fall semester of their senior year.
New Ensigns and Second Lieutenants from the Naval ROTC Battalion at the University of Florida are often surprised at how quickly the time has passed. It seemed like yesterday that they were being issued their uniforms for the first time and meeting new people at orientation. Commissioning is a new beginning. It is a time where new officers can take what they have learned and apply it to life in the fleet. New Ensigns and Second Lieutenants head off to their next duty station, bringing with them their indomitable Gator spirit and the honor, courage, and commitment that they learned from the Naval ROTC Battalion of the University of Florida.