White Uniforms, Black Shoes, Ship Life: Forged By the Sea

White Uniforms, Black Shoes, Ship Life: Forged By the Sea

Kitana Ford, Copy Editor

Amidst the blue-green waters and frothy foam bubbling to the surface of the waters, lays a massive ship with the United States flag billowing in the crisp breeze. The rest of the fleet follows close behind, equipped with thousands of sailors varying in professions, machinery and supplies below the deck and readied aircraft carriers lined along the landing strip. As the ships neared the port, sailors ascended the stairs leading to the deck and prepared to respond to the tragedy that they were called to—fulfilling their purpose as ambassadors to the world. 

To join the United States Navy, an individual must be morally, mentally and physically qualified. To elaborate further, one must pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), meet the physical fitness standards and pass the Physical Fitness Test (PFT), have no prior issues with law enforcement and pass a physical performed by a medical professional in the Navy to determine if you have any physical, medical or mental disabilities or disorders that may affect your ability to serve.

Today, the Navy handles operations in the seas, air and ground with around 320,000 sailors in active-duty. “On the ship, our job is to be ambassadors to various countries that we visit within the year; to strengthen their community by fixing their hospitals, painting houses, and working in homeless shelters among other things. We get opportunities to show the world that the Navy isn’t just here to defend the seas, we’re here to be a helping hand,” Second Class Petty Officer Weston Clark said. (Second Class Petty Officer Weston Clark left, En2 Diesel Mechanic Chance George middle, Petty Officer Sean Cassidy right)

For instance, an 18 year old male must complete a mile and a half in a time of 12:30 or less, 60 push ups and sit ups on the PFT to qualify. Whereas an 18 year old female must complete the mile and a half in 14 minutes or less, 19 push ups and 55-60 pushups to qualify. The ASVAB score determines the number and type of jobs that one qualifies for. Ultimately, the physical requirements deviate depending on age and gender. 

As for the recruitment process, it involves an application that is similar to that of a job application plus a military screening process that is held in Phoenix. The screening tests an individual’s mental and physical fortitude. If an individual has qualified for both of those, he or she will enlist, sit down with a job coordinator, pick a job and find out when their shipping date is. Afterwards, they are put into the delayed entry program and begin preparation for boot camp.

Furthermore, the enlistment process is similar to the recruitment process. However, if a student is under the age of 18 the recruiter will bring in their parents to discuss their son or daughters career path, the educational opportunities and benefits that the Navy offers as well as express their concerns. If the student and their parents decide that the Navy is the route for them, they will then work with the recruiter to schedule a time to go to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). From that point on, the process will resemble the recruitment process. 

Boot camp can last from eight to nine weeks and further prepares an individual academically and physically. After the duration of boot camp, future sailors will transition into their “A” school which provides them with specific training for the job that they picked in MEPS and can last from a few weeks to a couple of years.

“[As a recruiter] we’re here to be your mentors and help you become future sailors of the United States Navy. Our job is to give you the basic understanding that you need to succeed. These include learning about the sailor’s creed, your rank, general orders, physical and academic tests, navy knowledge and what to expect [in boot camp and “A” school],” Second Class Petty Officer Weston Clark said. 

Comparatively, Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) allows future sailors to earn their bachelor’s degree at an approved four-year university before they enlist, and exempts them from boot camp as well. Upon acceptance into the ROTC program at one of the 170 universities, students are awarded a four-year scholarship that can add up to $180,000 in tuition. Additionally, ROTC for the Navy has a unique aspect that allows students to go into either the Navy or the Marines as a commissioned officer upon completion. 

In a like manner, the Navy offers numerous educational opportunities which include the nuke program, the navy cool program, tuition assistance and GI Bill. The nuke program is a two-year course that allows sailors to earn up to 77 college credits, and the navy cool program allows tradesmen to earn their certifications while they serve that will be accepted in the civilian world. Typically, the Navy offers $3,500 in tuition assistance each fiscal year for classes and begins while you’re in active duty. After you have served, you are automatically granted the GI Bill which can assist with your expenses or pay for your childrens’ education. 

“Whether you plan to serve for four years or 20 years, you will have the GI Bill forever once you complete active duty, which is up to $180,000 that can cover your housing, food, textbooks, college education and everything that you could possibly need once you get outside of the military,” En2, Diesel Mechanic, Chance George said.

Benefits offered include medical and dental insurance coverage in active and reserve duty, housing and food allowance, free food and uniforms, tuition assistance, paid vacation, family made among fellow sailors and the ability to see the world from aboard a ship. 

Moreover, Petty Officer Sean Cassidy offers some advice to those who are joining the Navy. “Every week, there will be up to 80 new sailors among you. Competition will be high at times, but it’s important to make sure that you enjoy yourself. Take pictures, keep souvenirs and learn about the history of the countries that you visit and serve in.”

Thirty-five days ago Petty Officer Sean Cassidy began the transition into becoming a Navy recruiter in Lake Havasu City. Six years ago, he made the decision to join the United States Navy as a ship navigator and air controller. During that time he has travelled to 15 different countries including South Korea, Australia, Philippines, Singapore, Europe, Greece, Italy and Israel.