Written by MIDN 4/C Grant Swartz
Photo by MIDN 4/C Savannah Clarke
The day began early on March 19, 2016 as Midshipmen from the Boston NROTC Battalion departed from the BU wardroom to visit the USS McFaul (DDG 74), which was in Boston for the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. For many midshipmen, this was their first time being on a naval ship, and for some, their first time ever seeing one up close. Midshipmen were accompanied by unit staff CDR Masterson, LT Tribou, and LT Mondloch.
Midshipmen arrived at the USS McFaul early and were able to begin their tour earlier than the general public. 4/C midshipmen were able to put their newly learned ship-boarding procedures into practice as they climbed the gangway and proceeded onto the destroyer. Once aboard, midshipmen were taken to the officer’s wardroom aboard the ship for an introduction by the operations officer of the McFaul, as well as a welcome from the commanding officer, CDR Michael Gunther. The midshipmen were escorted around the ship by two junior officers who were commissioned through the NROTC program. Throughout the tour, the guides not only provided information about the ship, but also provided valuable insights about life in the Navy, the transition from NROTC to the fleet, and the roles of junior officers.
The tour began on the flight deck, as the guides explained the refueling and Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP) capabilities of the McFaul. The USS McFaul has the capability to accommodate all types of Navy rotary-wing aircraft, including the MH-60. Also of note was the ship’s Vertical Launch System, capable of firing guided missiles at various targets. The tour continued to the forecastle of the ship, where midshipmen were able to view the destroyer’s 5-inch gun up close. Many marveled at the immensity of the weapon. Guides also pointed out the ship’s SPY radar sensors, a major tool in the ship’s air-defense mission.
On the inside of the ship, midshipmen were taken to the bridge, for a lesson on how the ship is powered and driven. The tour guides also exhibited some of the ship’s navigational equipment, which some of the midshipmen had been learning about in their navigation class with LT Tribou. Up next was the heart of the McFaul, the Combat Information Center (CIC). The guides explained the vital role CIC plays in the ship’s operations and described some of the ship’s defensive and offensive capabilities. MIDN 3/C Griffin Keegan said, “it was very enlightening to learn about the role of surface warfare in a much more hands-on way than any presentation”. The tour finished in the ship’s mess deck. Aptly named “SEAL Stadium”, the mess deck honored the namesake of the USS McFaul, Donald L. McFaul, a Navy SEAL who gave his life serving in Operation Just Cause.
Overall, the tour served as an excellent opportunity for all who participated. Upperclassmen who attended learned great insights about their future roles as junior officers in the fleet, while underclassmen learned a great deal about one possible future career path. All midshipmen who attended greatly enjoyed the experience and look forward to future opportunities to tour and learn more about the fleet.