Published: April 20, 2022
Midshipmen run from Folsom Stadium to Chautauqua Park as part of the sea trials exercise

From Friday, April 9, through Saturday, April 10, Navy-option midshipmen from the University of Colorado’s Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) hosted their spring sea trials at the Folsom Stadium and Chautauqua Park. NROTC sea trials is a cumulative, integrated training event for the Navy-option midshipmen to apply the shipboard knowledge and skills, military competencies and leadership responsibilities they will carry with them into advanced summer training and into their careers as commissioned naval officers.

NROTC midshipmen planned and took part in the event. Upperclassmen spent the spring semester planning, building the sets and synchronizing the scenarios that would allow this event to be executed safely and effectively. For the participating Navy midshipmen, the 14-hour training event was designed to induce physical pressure, simulate realistic battle conditions and assess students’ abilities to apply what that they have learned over the course of the year.

The primary training audience was Navy-option midshipmen; however, Marine-option midshipmen and active duty Navy and Marine Corps students assisted in overseeing and ensuring safety for the event.

Participants started their Friday night off with a hefty physical training evolution, which came to be known as “The Grinder.” This encompassed three hours of action-packed physical activity, starting with a run from Folsom Stadium to Chautauqua Park. Squads took turns carrying a 30-pound pack up the mountain and back.

Upon completion of the physical training portion, midshipmen took part in a rotation of scenario-based events that required them to overcome their fatigue, think on their feet, and act fast. The students applied the academic instruction they had received on campus to conduct ship handling and navigation in a naval simulator, firefighting and damage control in mock-up shipboard environments, and key naval operations knowledge and teamwork to conduct an escape scenario. Midshipmen used their leadership and communication skills they learned throughout the year to succeed in each event.

Midshipman Owen Vandersmith, a junior at CU Boulder, was in charge of the event. He was very pleased with the performance and was impressed with the time and effort the student staff put into planning and executing the event, stating, “This is probably the best sea trials we have had in a long time.”

When sea trials concluded, the work for the staff was not over yet. The event staff hosted meetings to conduct an after-action review. This encompassed a compilation of valuable feedback, evaluation results, analysis and discussion of what took place in each phase of the exercise. It resulted in development of strategies to improve the event and students’ performance in the future.

The Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Program is a program located at many colleges and universities, aimed to educate, and train young women and men for service as commissioned officers in the United States Marine Corps and United States Navy. Learn more about the NROTC program at CU Boulder.