Summer at sea: Naval Cadets sail in U.S. warships

Alek Robaczewski

Naval Cadet Alek Robaczewski on the bridge wing of USS Stockdale in the Philippine Sea.

Sonya Chwyl, MARPAC PA Office ~

Not many summer jobs give university students the chance to gain hands-on experience in their field, and even fewer provide the opportunity to travel while doing it.

That’s what makes the Naval Personnel and Training Group’s (NPTG) On the Job Experience (OJE) program such a great opportunity.

This summer, the OJE program has given a number of Royal Military College Naval Cadets the chance to live and work on board military ships for the first time. Twelve of them are spending the summer with the United States Navy on some of the most advanced warships in the world, including guided missile destroyers.

“It’s hard not to be jealous of these cadets,” said Lieutenant(Navy) Charlotte Farish, the OJE Program Coordinator. “I think they’re going to have such an amazing summer.”

Five Naval Cadets have joined the United States Ships (USS) Stockdale, Spruance, Chung-Hoon, and Mobile Bay. They’ll be on board for a month and a half, working alongside the American crew.

Another group of seven have joined the USS San Diego, where they’ll stay for about a month and get to participate in RIMPAC, the world’s largest international maritime exercise.

The cadets are already hard at work orienting themselves on the ship and learning the basics of damage control and firefighting. After that, they’ll be able to carry out basic officer tasks, such as standing watch on the bridge.

For the cadets, it’s an opportunity to learn the traditions and practices of one of Canada’s greatest naval allies.

“They’re working on major warships that are heavily armed—just phenomenal ships,” said Lt(N) Farish. “They’re going to have so much fun sailing on them.”

The time they spend on the water will go towards their sea service insignia.

While this is the first year of the NPTG’s OJE program, Lt(N) Farish says it’s already been a resounding success.

“We started out with about 150 people, but as the program gained interest and traction we were able to expand it even further.”

This summer, a total of 173 cadets will participate in the program.

According to Lt(N) Farish, the program is so desirable that one cadet even withdrew his transfer to a different trade in order to be able to participate in the program.

“When they finish the program, they’ll be able to tell other cadets in the army and air force about the opportunities we’re offering,” said Lt(N) Farish. “This is such an awesome program, and they’ll come away from it with tons of experience – not to mention bragging rights.”

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