About 280 Class of 2022 midshipmen sailed across the Alumni Hall stage Thursday night and surveyed an array of destinations in front of them — from Japan to Spain to nearby Norfolk, Virginia — at the Naval Academy’s annual ship selection.
“Up here is a lot of opportunity and it’s yours for the taking,” said Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener, who commands the Naval Surface Forces and was the evening’s guest speaker.
Ship selection allows midshipmen assigned to surface warfare to pick the ships they will serve on after commissioning in the spring to start their naval careers. Midshipmen chose their ships and new homeports by order of merit, which factors in considerations such as grades, military grade, physical education and leadership.
First up was Midshipman 1st Class Matthew Ceh, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, who chose the USS Arleigh Burke, homeported out of Rota, Spain.
“I am looking forward to working hard and earning the title of surface warfare officer,” said Ceh, who studied cyber operations at the academy.
Rota was a popular destination for the midshipmen, as was San Diego, the first choice of Midshipman 1st Class Sara Vianco, who selected second and chose the USS Boxer.
“I am from the Southwest and would love to head back out there,” said Vianco, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, adding that the Boxer, an amphibious ship, positions her well to become qualified to transfer into the Information Warfare Community which leads a group of officers who specialize in intelligence, counterintelligence, space and oceanographic science, among other information-focused disciplines.
The Class of 2022 represented the Annapolis area well, with three soon-to-be graduates from the region.
The 15th choice went to Midshipman 1st Class Jenny Luo, of Ellicott City. Luo chose the USS George Washington, homeported in Norfolk, Virginia.
“I’m really interested in going to Norfolk. Also, the ship is going to go to Japan in the future so I’m interested in trying out both sides of the world,” Luo said.
The 57th pick went to Midshipman 1st Class Augustus Prager. Prager is originally from New York City, but his parents now live in Easton. He chose the USS Blue Ridge, homeported in Yokosuka, Japan. Blue Ridge is the oldest deployed warship of the Navy and serves as the flagship of the Seventh Fleet, the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets.
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“My practicum teacher was super influential on me, and he told me if that ship was up while I was going up to pick, don’t miss the opportunity,” Prager said. “I can’t wait to start actually serving.”
The final local student, Midshipman 1st Class Morgan Lang, chose 113th. Though originally from Newport, Rhode Island, she moved to Annapolis for high school and graduated from Annapolis Area Christian School. Lang chose the USS Carney, homeported in Mayport, Florida.
“I did my summer cruise in Mayport and fell in love with the base; I loved the small community,” said Lang, who also said she knew she wanted to go to the Naval Academy since second grade. “I am very excited [about graduating]. It’s been a long time coming.”
Some of the midshipmen expressed anxiety over taking on so much responsibility once they enter the service, but many also said they are eager to go out and see the world.
“I’m really nervous because I’ll be in charge of a big group, but in my four years here I’ve been in so many leadership positions and the people around me have inspired me so much to work hard in academics, sports, leadership and developing my character,” Luo said. “I really hope to be a better human being after coming out of this place.”
Others said leaving the academy is bittersweet.
“I’m so grateful for the last four years. It’s been the best experience of my life,” Prager said.