USNA Parent Survival Guide ~ Youngster Year Home
Privileges NTT Academics
YP Cruises Responsibilities Luau

3rd Class Privileges

Youngster Shoulder

USNA tradition states that the 3rd class midshipmen are not officially “youngsters” until they have sighted the Naval Academy chapel dome upon completion of their summer cruise. Although the YP cruise is only a few weeks long, the return to Annapolis is similar to that of a returning deployment of ships. Alumni members, family and friends wait on the pier next to Farragut Field to wave in the incoming YP’s and the midshipmen and crew onboard. As the crew disembarks, they are officially youngsters and delighted in their new status as non-plebes. While walking the yard they observe the efforts and struggles of a new set of emerging 4th class that is NOT THEM. This is a heady sensation. They are no longer at the bottom of the pile and it is a great relief!

Youngsters live by a new set of rules and regs. They can actually sit down on the benches scattering the yard! Such simple pleasures. They get to stay up later than 11pm, a privilege that is often not exercised because exhaustion has it's limits! They have extended town liberties although curfews remain in effect. Youngsters can have cell phones. Even though they have regular phones in their rooms, many Youngsters also love the convenience of a cell phone. One of the nice things about being a Youngster is being able to walk normally without chopping and not having to memorize meal plans anymore. Youngsters are allowed in the Ward Room. This means they can watch TV. Youngsters suddenly become aware of the world news again - not as a required recitation of two front page articles, but as an interested citizen again.

3rd Class is designated by one diagonal stripe on the sleeves of their uniforms and by one diagonal stripe on their shoulder boards. They wear an anchor pin on the right side of their collar.



(One on right
collar only)

1) Plebes generally find out about their YP cruise in the spring of their Plebe year - March or so. This of course is subject to change. But if your Plebe is in high class standing, they are more likely to get their request for summer assignments.

2) There are four 3 week blocks during 3rd class summer, two of which are leave. They will spend one block on YP cruise and a second block either at NTT (Naval Tactical Training) or on a sailing cruise. 2nd and 1st class summers they will only have at most a 3 week leave block, and that can get eaten away with travel or summer school. Plebes who go to summer school have to go for four weeks. This will only give them one block off.

3) Play it by ear if you can but your chances of a family vacation during 3C summer are pretty good. Later summers will depend on all the stars aligning! But it still can happen if you don't have to plan too far in advance.

4) After Commissioning, the former Plebes are "Third Class". They don't officially become "Youngsters" until they return from their YP cruise and see the USNA Chapel Dome.

YP Cruises
photos and story by Barbara Craig

During the summer between the Plebe and Youngster year, all midshipmen are given the opportunity to discover first hand what it is like to be in the Fleet by going on their first cruise on a YP (Yard Patrol) craft. The photos depict what the ships look like both inside and out. They usually travel up and down the East Coast. Last year the class of '04 cruised up to NYC, Newport Rhode Island, and Boston.

While aboard the mids learn about and perform all of the operations of the ship from charting and navigation to cooking, cleaning, and actually being at the helm. They have a wonderful time at sea, experiencing the "real Navy" and while in port are given liberty to explore the cities for R&R. What a wonderful and unique opportunity for our mids! It builds confidence and character while at the same time giving them a break from the rigors of the classroom.

According to the USNA website:

YP Cruise
- YP cruise is a one week pre-underway training phase, followed by 2 weeks of underway training onboard one of the Academy’s 110 foot yard patrol crafts. The first class Mids act as division officers overseeing the daily routine, and ensure training is progressing. Third class get thier first exposure to life at sea. They get a chance to put navigation and ship handling fundamentals learned in the classroom to actual use. The purpose of this program is to introduce Third Class Midshipmen to life at sea and familiarize them with shipboard routines, evolutions, and watch standing and to develop Third Class Midshipmen peer leadership skills.

The cruise program consists of four three-week training blocks. Each block will be organized into two squadrons of six or seven YP's and is conducted in two phases: a four-day Pre-Deployment Phase consisting of classroom and underway training at USNA, and a fifteen-day Deployment Phase consisting of eight days underway and seven days in port. The time spent in port will be divided between New York, Boston, and Newport.

Onboard, Midshipmen exercise the underway watch organization, review basic navigation skills, become familiar with bridge equipment, and respond to mock shipboard emergencies. Each Midshipman completes a sea survival program by swimming to and from a life raft. Basic firefighting demonstrations are also presented. When assigned as duty mess cooks, Mids work in the tiny galley. This job is critical to the good health and morale of everyone onboard. Two Third Class per day serve as mess cooks.

Mids report that there's not much space to eat, sleep or even turn around in a YP! Certainly different than those fancy cruise ships you may have read about or been on yourself. You may also get reports of seasickness as these ships are very small and if the weather is stormy, they toss around considerably. Students get a taste of the sea and spend several days in port either in Newport, Boston, or NYC, all great places to visit in the summer. YP cruises are wonderful adventures - time to learn, try new things, experience life at sea, and have some fun while in port. So different from the grind of the classroom and being rated!

While on their YP Cruise, Third Class Midshipmen compete to earn the Command Assistant Competitive Award. Historically 25% of the 3/C midshipmen qualify as Command Assistant. Midshipmen who earn this award are authorized to wear the Command Assistant Competitive Award pin.

This is the link to the USNA official page on YP Cruises

                TIME   EVOLUTION
                0345   Relieve the Watch
                0545   Call the duty mess cooks
                0600   Reveille
                0615   Early breakfast for watch reliefs
                0630   Breakfast
                0645   Relieve the Watch
                0700   Sweeper's (off watch section)
                0730   Secure the mess line
                0800   Commence ship's work
				1030   Messing and berthing inspection
                1100   Knock off ship's work
                1115   Early dinner for watch reliefs
                1130   Dinner
                1145   Relieve the watch
                1200   Sweeper's (off watch section)
                1230   Secure the mess line
                1300   Commence ship's work
                1545   Relieve the Watch
                1700   Secure from ship's work 
                1715   Early supper for watch reliefs
                1730   Supper
                1745   Relieve the Watch
                1800   Sweeper's (off watch section)
                1830   Secure the mess line
                1930   Eight O'Clock Reports
                1945   Relieve the Watch
                TBD    Darken ship (sunset)
                2200   Taps. Lights out
                2345   Relieve the Watch

Naval Tactical Training

In Naval Tactical Training they do a lot of Marine Corps type hard core intense training, including going to Quantico. Prospective SEAL candidates get initially screened and it is a lot of physical work. They do night recon missions and set ammo charges then paddle back accross the river by moonlight. They may rappel down walls, and do covert team insertions. Just think about the John Clark character in the Tom Clancy books and play spy, grunt, combat tactics, hide out in the woods, etc. If your Mid is into the physically demanding, rough and tumble, beat yourself and everybody else up kind of thing, this is wonderful stuff.

3rd Class Responsibilities

Youngsters are in a difficult academic year. There's not much time for anything more than schoolwork and sports. They stay really busy. It is possible to change majors if the work is really too difficult. But usually major switching happens within a division (from Aerospace Engineering to Ocean Engineering). It's also possible to move from one division to another (from Engineering to Humanities), but practically impossible to move from History (Humanities) to Naval Architecture (Engineering). Keeping up with the academics is the major responsiblity of their Youngster year at the Naval Academy.

Youngster also have their own Plebers assigned to them, but having just come out of the Plebe category themselves, they tend not to exercise superiority or harsh discipline. Those are more the providence of upperclassmen in the ranks above Youngster.

Although many Plebes don't vote, taking their civic responsiblities to heart means they need to vote whether it's a national election or an "off year" election. Since most Mids are not legally Maryland residents, that means getting absentee ballots and mailing them in. You can find lots of information at
to help get them the information they need to fulfill the adult respnsibility of voting.


Third Classman continue in academics where the previous year left off, but they begin to branch off into their chosen majors. All students take the same courses in the first year at USNA. They choose a major during the spring semester of their Plebe year. At the begining of their third class year, they are enrolled in the coursework of their major. Professional courses continue with Navigation and Naval Leadership.


During Commissioning Week, the Plebes climb Herndon, the Second Class promenade through Ring Dance and the Firsties graduate. The Luau is designed to give the Youngsters something to blow off steam and relax. They design their own t-shirt and wear Hawaiian leis and shorts. There is plenty of food and music to please everyone. They lounge all over Sherman Field on Hospital Point. Commissioning week is a time of celebration, reflection and relaxation. The Youngsters manage this in their own style. If you are in town, join them and marvel at their capacity to enjoy. They are a pleasure to watch.