Visiting the United States Naval Academy (or USNA for short) in Annapolis, MD is an inspiration, both for those who know the history and those who want to learn more. Tour the campus, watch one of the many ceremonies, visit the museum… and prepared to be moved. The American Revolution (1775 - 1783) marked the birth of the Navy in the United States, even though it was shortly after decommissioned for a few years.
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Once reestablishing itself, the academy was formed in 1845 and it has been going strong, training educated and strong recruits that become a full naval officer year after year with no signs of slowing down. Women were first accepted there in 1976 and now make up over 20% of all recruits. The academy is never afraid of growth or change to fit the times and trains its officers as such.
The main attraction at the US Naval Academy is the ability to tour the grounds. This walking tour, which is led by one of the certified, professional guides from the campus, takes visitors through the Armel Leftwich visitor center. The tour will allow visitors to see the “yard,” which is the grounds of the academy where future naval officers are trained and educated. Visitors should make sure to bring appropriate identification (driver’s license, etc.) to be allowed onto the grounds. Proceeds go right back into the grounds
Museum - Also on the premises is the US Naval Museum, which welcomes over 100,000 people a year. This two-story museum features exhibits about the sea power's history, how the Navy has developed, and how the Navy trains new officers who will eventually go on to lead the military. Complete with many historical artifacts (including video as well as audio), this museum helps bring history to life.
Field House - Visit the Halsey to see a high-tech, impressive exhibit that discusses the overall mission of the naval academy, including how students live while on campus and the possible careers that going through the academy can lead to. Make sure to visit the interactive kiosks with videos that show actual students discussing life on campus, as well as looking at some of the people who have graduated and what they are doing now. There are more than 700 different photographs to view as well, featuring some of the most historic and iconic moments.
Admissions - For visitors considering either coming to the academy themselves or have family members that are interested, the academy offers twice daily admissions sessions for visitors to come and learn all about the admissions process and get more information about how to apply. It also discusses the one-week summer sessions available on campus for high school students, as well as the STEM programs offered.
Again, anyone visiting the campus should make sure to have a Department of Homeland Security approved form of identification (it is also recommended to bring a backup. Visit the Homeland Security website for a list of approved forms of identification).
The academy offers many special events, which are all posted on their website. Below are just a few.
Induction Day is always a special one. This marks the beginning of what is called “Plebe (or a new recruit)” summer, and is the graduation ceremony where they take the oath and say goodbye to their friends and families before going off to further training.
Sea Trials - Fourteen straight hours of intense mental and physical training and challenges make up the yearly Sea Trials. This training marks the end of their year as a plebe and the beginning of them becoming a full member of the navy.
Commissioning Week - The final step in the journey through the academy is commissioning week. This celebration marks the finish of the four years required to become a midshipman and is regularly attended by family, friends, and anyone else who wants to see this exciting ceremony!
Shopping and Dining
While visiting the academy, make sure to visit the gift shop, with all proceeds going back to the campus. With memorabilia, apparel (t-shirts and hats are always a favorite) and other souvenirs like stuffed animals, jewelry and home goods. There are even collars and dog leashes with the Navy logo. For visitors who get hungry during their visit to the academy campus, there are a few dining options available, both fast food and sit down.
United States Naval Academy, 121 Blake Road, Annapolis, MD, 21402, Phone: 410-293-8687