Mark Swarthout
US Navy

3rd Class Cruise

Between Freshman and Sophomore years, Midshipmen from the Naval Academy and NROTC units are assigned cruises. As 3rd Class Midshipman, they bunk in the enlisted quarters and work and stand watches with enlisted personnel. My cruise was aboard the USS Semmes a DDG that was on a European tour. I visited Spain, France, Sweden, Germany, and Belgium as part of the ship's crew and to return to the US we also raveled through Luxembourg, Sweden, and Italy. I lost my glasses, watched a shipmate get a tattoo and got to see a lot of the world, including Paris.

Left - Me in front of Notre Dame Cathedral on July 4th 1977

The ticket cover below was from our stop in Gutenburg, Sweden. We were given passes to the local amusement park and got to run the rides, play games and have a good time.

2nd Class Cruise

Between Sophomore and Junior years, Midshipmen are taken on a whirl wind tour of the four major branches of the Navy. We spend a week with the Air Wings, the Submarine forces, the Surface Fleet and the Marine Corps. It is a sort of recruiting drive, to convince the perspective officers to choose their branch for designation.

Midshipman Swarthout. I believe this is 3rd Class year.

We did an amphibious landing with the Marines, did some marching, equipment demos, amphibs, helicopters, the works!

The Briscoe was the surface ship we went to sea on for a couple nights. It was fairly new at the time, only having been in commission a few months.


A couple of pictures taken aboard the USS Francis Scott Key.

We spent a week in Charleston and the submarine fleet. I went to sea aboard the USS Francis Scott Key SSBN 657.

This site brought me another photo, a color slide taken by a photographer on the Key. You can see it below, or on their web site at SSBN 657 maintained by Russ Christie, MT1, Blue Crew 70 - 75

The picture to the left is signed by George Mensch, the commanding officer of the Gold Crew. I can remember spending some time paying a computer game with the him while aboard. It was a artillery duel where you had to guess the load and angle of fire to destroy your opponent's weapon before he got you. In retrospect, it would have been more politically correct to allow him to win!

First stop was Corpus Christi where we went through the flight week. After completing the various indoctrination training, including the ejection seat and altitude chamber, most of us got to fly second seat in a TA-4 jet. I can remember doing barrel rolls over Beeville, Texas. The picture to the right is me in my flight suit prior to the run in the jet. I took the shot below as we came in for a landing.

1st Class Cruise

Between Junior and Senior year, the Midshipmen are assigned to a cruise where they serve as junior officers, living and operating with the ship's officers. I was assigned to the USS Mount Hood AE-29 on the WestPac Cruise. We transferred fuel and ammunition during the cruise and I was there when they pumped the 1 Millionth gallon of DFM to other ships on that cruise. I visited the Philippines and Thailand, with brief stops in Alaska, Japan and Hawaii as I traveled to and from the ship. We were flown out to the ship on a helicopter. In addition to being at the pier at Subic Bay, we also visited Cebu, one of the other islands. And then, after a lot of time at sea, we went to Pataya Beach, Thailand. To get back stateside we took a bus to Bangkok, caught a flight to Subic Bay, took a bus to Clark, got a MAC flight to Hawaii, another MAC flight (a C-5 Galaxy!) to San Francisco. Then I flew through a series of flights to arrive finally in Clarksburg, WV, where my grandparents picked me up so I could start summer school the next day.

Kids came swarming out to the boats to dive for quarters thrown in the water.
Me on the left with a friend I met in one of the shops.

United States Navy

Last Update 6/5/2016