Tuesday, June 10, 2014

160th Anniversary of Naval Academy Graduation Services

"This Day in History"

June 10, 1884

US Naval Academy Class of 1894

“To develop Midshipmen morally, mentally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty in order to graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.” –U.S. Naval Academy Mission

The Naval School was founded in 1845 by Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft in Annapolis, Maryland.  In 1850, the Naval School became the United States Naval Academy.  A new curriculum accompanied the name change, which included 4 years of study at the Academy and summers spent training aboard ships.  Six men completed this new curriculum and received the first formal graduation exercises at the Academy on June 10, 1854.

US Naval Academy in 1853 

USS Arkansas (BB-33) was one of the ships used for the Midshipmen Summer Training Cruises from 1935 to 1938.  The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum holds a collection about these cruises.  The collection was donated by James Clifford Wilkins from Lamar, Arkansas, who served aboard the battleship during the 1930's.  These cruises on Arkansas included trips on the United States Eastern Seaboard and European excursions.

USS Arkansas newsletter from 1935.

The curriculum style that was created in 1850 is still the basis of the Naval Academy today.  The format does include far more advanced and sophisticated curriculum today.  Two other changes have taken place for graduates in the Academy since 1854.  In 1884, Congress authorized commissioning of Naval Academy graduates as Ensigns, and in 1933, Congress authorized awarding a Bachelor of Science degree to graduates of the Academy.

The school that began with 10 aces and 50 students has grown to 338 acres and a student body size of 4,000.

Author: Allison Hiblong


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