Story by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Charlotte Oliver

Four midshipmen arrived on board the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Jan. 5 as part of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) winter cruise program.

The goal of the midshipmen cruise program is to integrate the midshipmen with the crew and learn directly from officers and enlisted Sailors about Navy operations and life at sea.

The senior-level midshipmen will be aboard for two weeks and will experience operations in several departments.

“This is a great group of midshipmen,” said Lt. Cmdr. Christy Sibley, Stennis’ training officer. “They’ll have a lot of one on one time and really get a great experience aboard Stennis.”

To help facilitate the experience, each midshipman is assigned a running mate who will mentor the midshipmen and guide them throughout their experience.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to see the challenges facing them when they become division officers,” said Lt. j.g. Andrew Miller, division officer for Auxiliaries Division and one of the running mates for the midshipmen.

While they are busy learning day-to-day operations, attending meetings and being mentored by forward-deployed Sailors, the midshipmen are also completing Personnel Qualification Standard (PQS).

“The purpose of the PQS is to give the midshipmen an overview of the different departments on the ship,” said Miller. “They will be going to each department to receive training and to have their PQS signed.”

Midshipman 1st Class Adrienne Penacik, a senior studying international relations at BostonUniversity, said she is getting a chance to see how the ship operates and is looking forward to entering the surface warfare officer program.

This is the first aircraft carrier visit for the group of young midshipmen.

“It’s a little intimidating at first,” said Midshipman 1st Class Bertha Farele-John, a senior at University of St. Thomas. “Having a good running mate to show you around definitely helps.”

“It’s eye opening for me,” said Midshipman 1st Class Nathan Harding, a senior at BostonUniversity. “It’s amazing to witness this [shipboard operations].”

While aboard Stennis, the midshipmen observed flight operations and two replenishments-at-sea. They will also visit deck, supply, intelligence, medical, engineering, weapons, and command religious ministries departments. In addition the midshipmen are scheduled to take a helicopter from Stennis to the USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) for four days to experience operations aboard a guided-missile cruiser.

The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, consisting of Stennis, Carrier Air Wing 9, Destroyer Squadron 21, and Mobile Bay are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility to strengthen regional partnerships, sustain maritime security, and support combatant commander requirements for assets in the area.

For more information on the JCSCSG visit and


Midshipman 1st Class Michael Oolman, from Woodbury, Minn., and Mindshipman 1st Class Adrienne Penacik, from Nashua, N.H., observe a replenishment-at-sea aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth Abbate/Released)