PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (Sept. 5, 2023) University of Hawaii Naval ROTC midshipmen completed a summer internship program at U.S. Pacific Fleet on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Aug. 31.
PACFLT, through partnership with UH, designed the paid internship program for Navy ROTC students who do not have ROTC scholarships. This internship afforded the midshipmen a form of immersive training comparable to that experienced by U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen and Navy ROTC scholarship holders.
“I thought this would be a great use of my time to get accustomed to the many different sides of the Navy,” said Midshipman 2nd Class Dylan Verano, from Ewa Beach, Hawaii. “I’m currently not on scholarship so during the summer I had nothing to do besides summer classes.”
The majority of the midshipmen had limited exposure to the Navy prior to joining the ROTC program at UH. The internship was structured to give them a glimpse of what it’s like to work at the Pacific Fleet headquarters and other Navy commands on the island.
“My favorite part about the program is all of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities you don’t get in units on the mainland,” said Midshipman 3rd Class Amelia Concepcion, from Livermore, California. “Being at PACFLT, we get to meet all of these flag officers who want to talk to us, tour the ships that are stationed here, and learn about the history of Pearl Harbor.”
Throughout the summer, the students participated in a variety of activities and training events, to include small-boat handling, anti-terrorism force protection drills, and shipboard damage control training.
“There’s obviously been a lot of time and effort put into the internship,” said Midshipman 2nd Class Nathaniel Guwan, from Ewa Beach, Hawaii. “It’s not just ‘go here and we’ll show you what we do,’ but we participate to the full maximum level they are able to allow us.”
The midshipmen were assigned a research project on two topics, which they would create and present a brief to a flag officer at the end of the program. Research subjects included unmanned systems and lessons learned from recent world conflicts that could be implemented in the Pacific.
“Skills that are important to a young officer aren’t just their technical skills, but also being able to speak, think critically and write are just so important,” said Patrick Molenda, a PACFLT advisor for the internship program.
As part of their research project, the midshipmen ran a full wargame on new software-driven technology at PACFLT to test their hypotheses.
“Getting to learn more about the high-level operational side and being able to see why decisions are made helps put everything into perspective,” said Midshipman 2nd Class Nathaniel Coleman, from Thousand Oaks, California. “It gives you a better understanding of what’s going on in the Navy.”
This was the second iteration of the PACFLT-sponsored internship program. UH’s Naval ROTC was founded in 2021, and is the nation’s newest Naval ROTC unit, with more than 40 midshipmen enrolled.
“I’m a big believer in the program,” said Molenda. “From what I see of this up-and-coming generation, we’re in good hands. It was eye-watering to see how quickly they were able to grasp this pretty complex wargaming system. Anyone who thinks they aren’t going to carry the torch, well they’re not looking at them close enough because I’m here to tell you, they’re very impressive.”
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