[An article from Naval Air Station Patuxent River Tester]
A group of U.S Naval Academy Midshipmen will experience a unique learning opportunity when their “live classroom” sets sail April 30 and May 1 offshore from Naval Air Station Patuxent River and Navy Recreation Center (NRC) Solomons.
Part of an elective history course titled “War of 1812 in the Chesapeake: A Schoolhouse at Sea,” the pilot project places students on board the Lynx, a replica Baltimore Clipper tall ship, where they’ll undergo five one-hour modules each day covering various related topics.
“They’ll study the War of 1812 from a strategic standpoint,” explained Claude Berube, an instructor in the academy’s Department of History and the director of the U. S. Naval Academy Museum, which organized the program. “They’ll study operations and tactics, intelligence, celestial navigation, the economies on both sides during the war, and one of our English professors will even teach them about poetry and prose from the time period.”
Between modules, the midshipmen will be on deck learning how to handle the lines and getting a true sense of what their ancestors experienced more than 200 years ago while sailing the Chesapeake Bay.
“We’ll be accompanied by the Pride of Baltimore, and we’ll be attempting to show the midshipmen what it was like to look upon another tall ship sailing just 50 to 100 yards away, how sound carries over water when people are shouting commands on the ships, and what are safe distances in terms of navigation,” Berube said.
Studying the War of 1812 is important because the conflict is where the U.S. Navy began to grow into a formidable maritime force.
“So much took place on the Chesapeake Bay, it really was all around us,” Berube said. “We took on a major world power, the British, and in single ship actions we usually defeated them, demonstrating our superior naval architecture with the [Joshua] Humphrey frigates, such as the USS Constitution. And the heroes of the War of 1812 – Isaac Hull, William Bainbridge, David Porter –still have ships named after them today.”
As a result of that success,many Americans finally realized the importance of having a Navy, Berube noted.
“After the war, you started to see squadrons being sent overseas,” he said. “Navy funds were increased and ships were deployed worldwide to protect American interests.”
Throughout the course of the first day, the class of 10 students and their instructors will sail under the Thomas Johnson Bridge and continue past Point Patience, turning back somewhere near St. Leonard’s Creek.
They’ll then disembark at NRC Solomons where they will learn about the Marines during the War of 1812 from the U.S. Marine Corps Historical Company, spend the night and conclude the class the following day before heading back to Annapolis.
“The Solomons team is excited to host the naval academy’s live floating classroom,” said Carrie Rose, NRC installation program director. “We’ll provide both lodging and camping accommodations to the midshipmen and their professors, and it will certainly be a beautiful sight to see the tall ships on our local waters.”
Berube hopes the inaugural course, sponsored by the Class of 1950, is a success and that it can be repeated next year and in years to come.
“The midshipmen in the class represent about eight different majors,” he said. “This isn’t just a class for history majors, it’s a class for all midshipmen, as history should be; they have to understand their heritage. But, more importantly, we hope to show them that the same lessons from 200 years ago are lessons they should be applying as junior, midgrade and senior officers in command of ships or aviation squadrons, or in command of Marines.”