The Regimental Program at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy will be a vital part of your educational experience as a Midshipman. This program has one aim-to develop superior junior leaders for the merchant marine fleet, the Armed Forces of the United States, and the shoreside maritime and transportation industries. Regimental activities and policies are designed to provide Midshipmen with opportunities to experience “hands-on” leadership from the small unit level up to the Midshipmen Officer billets at the Battalion and Regimental level.
Although you will devote the greatest portion of your daily schedule to academic pursuits, you will find that the regimental system also makes demands on your time. These two elements of Midshipman life are highly integrated, and produce graduates who are educated and trained for inclusion in the next generation of America’s leaders.
The four classes of Midshipmen bear the same designation used at the other U.S. service academies. Freshmen are called fourth classmen or plebes; sophomores, third classmen; juniors, second classmen; and seniors, first classmen.
The Class System
Fundamental to regimental life is the “class system,” a program which assigns responsibilities, duties and privileges to Midshipmen based on their seniority. First classmen exercise command of the regiment under the supervision of the Academy’s Commandant of Midshipmen and staff. First classmen have opportunities to serve in Midshipman officer and squad leader billets. Underclassmen may serve as Midshipman petty officers and team leaders, while plebes learn “follower-ship.” The regiment, under the Midshipman regimental commander and staff, is divided into two battalions, each under a Midshipman battalion commander. The battalions include two companies, each led by a Midshipmen company commander.
Top-ranking Midshipman officers work closely with the Commandant in creating and carrying out policies relating to all facets of Midshipman life. They receive practical leadership experience that helps develop self-confidence, improves their understanding of human relations, and instills in them a sense of responsibility. First classmen are granted privileges commensurate with their seniority and responsibility.
Second and third classmen are primarily responsible for assisting the first class in the training of the fourth class. The upperclassmen ensure that plebes display proper military bearing and practice correct military etiquette. The privileges granted the second and third classes are less than those enjoyed by the first class, but more liberal than those given to plebes.
The fourth class year is a period of conditioning for both life at sea and many other undertakings that face Midshipmen during their training and, afterward, as graduates. Regimental training is a primary reason why graduates of the Academy are highly valued by all segments of the maritime industry and the U.S. Armed Forces for their bearing, maturity and ability to get the job done.
Plebe Indoctrination Program
Your experience at the Academy will begin in early July when you report aboard as a “plebe candidate” for a rigorous two-week indoctrination program. During indoctrination, you will undergo an intensive program of regimental training. One of the most important abilities you will learn is time management. Your daily indoctrination schedule is demanding and time-consuming, requiring you to perform and accomplish tasks in specified periods. Plebe year is very challenging. Under the class system, plebes have the greatest number of obligations and the fewest privileges. However, during your first year at the Academy, you will become well versed in the institution’s traditions, develop a keen sense of pride and esprit de corps, and adjust to the requirements of the regimental program.
A Midshipman’s Daily Schedule
During the academic year, the Monday through Friday daily routine is as follows:
||Athletics, extracurricular activities
Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings are used for regimental parades and inspections, but the remainder of each weekend includes liberty and recreation.
Leave and Liberty
Midshipmen are granted a week of leave (vacation) at the end of the first trimester, usually in early November. They also receive four days of leave for Thanksgiving, and about two weeks of leave during the Christmas/New Year period. There is one week of spring leave at the end of the second trimester. This may coincide with the Easter and Passover holidays. In addition, depending on sea split, some Midshipmen may receive annual leave during the month of July.
It is important that travel arrangements for leave periods do not extend beyond the beginning or end of those periods. Weekend liberty is available for all four classes, with some restrictions for the Plebe class, and for upperclass watch standers. The extent of this liberty is dependent on class, academic and regimental performance, and Academy obligations. Plebes are the only class not normally granted overnight liberty on weekends.
In addition to weekend liberty, upperclass midshipmen are provided the opportunity to leave the Academy grounds for dinner a number of times each term, again depending on class, academic and regimental performance, and academy obligations.
The Honor Code
The Academy’s Honor Code is taught, administered, and led by members of the Regiment of Midshipmen, as guided by the Director of Leadership and Ethics Development/Honor Advisor.
The Honor Code is so simple that it is contained in one sentence: “A Midshipman will not lie, cheat or steal.” This statement must be completely accepted and supported by every member of the regiment.
All Midshipmen quickly learn that the honor code is designed to guide them in their daily living, as they develop a greater understanding personal and professional honesty, integrity, and discipline. We believe the Honor Code gives greater value to academic degrees, and instills in Midshipmen the principles of honesty and integrity.
Every junior leader in the maritime industry or the Armed Forces is expected to set standards of honesty and integrity. Every leader’s character will be tested at least once during their career. The Academy’s Honor Code prepares officer candidates for that test. Honor Code training and education begins during your first day in the Regiment of Midshipmen, and continues during your tenure at the Academy.