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USS Oscar Austin Hosts Italian Midshipmen
ATLANTIC OCEAN -- Midshipmen from the Italian Naval Academy are training aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) as part of the Foreign Exchange Training of Midshipmen (FOREXTRAMID) 17 program. The training period aboard Oscar Austin began on Aug. 22, 2017.
FOREXTRAMID 17 is a Chief of Naval Operations-sponsored program and is designed to promote professional and cultural exchange between the U.S. and foreign navies through the exchange of midshipmen first classes and their foreign counterparts. During the FOREXTRAMID program, midshipmen are assigned to a cruise for approximately three weeks where participants undergo extensive training and get to observe how allied and partner nation navies operate.
“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to host our Italian counterparts,” said Cmdr. Janice Smith, commanding officer of Oscar Austin. “This is a significant opportunity for Oscar Austin Sailors and the Italian midshipmen to learn from each other.”
Embarked Italian midshipmen Luca Argentieri and Gabriele Ciccu had the unique opportunity to witness many shipboard evolutions including general quarters drills, bridge operations, sea and anchor details, and flight operations.
“It’s a very good opportunity to learn the difference between the Italian and American navies,” said Argentieri. “We’re also improving our work experience and hope to take the skills we learn back to the Italian navy.”
The midshipmen exchange program gives Sailors from both navies the chance to learn from each other and strengthens international allies and partnerships.
“First we learned our way around the ship,” said Argentieri. “Then we started standing watches under instruction on the bridge. While watching flight operations, it was amazing to see such an impressive aircraft land on such a tiny flight deck.”
Oscar Austin Sailors provided a warm welcome to Argentieri and Ciccu. Many Sailors traded sea stories, some traded command patches and Argentieri and Ciccu were able to provide a glimpse into Italian culture while the American Sailors taught the midshipmen the fundamentals of U.S. Navy shipboard life.
“This has been a wonderful opportunity,” said Ensign Lawrence Wilson, Argentieri and Ciccu’s shipboard sponsor and mentor. “Not only has this been a fantastic learning experience for Argentieri and Ciccu, it has also been refreshing for me to learn from someone with a completely different perspective of the U.S. Navy.”
In terms of future aspirations, Argentieri hopes to become an anti-submarine warfare officer while Ciccu hopes to become a weapons officer.
“It has been a huge honor to be aboard USS Oscar Austin,” said Ciccu. “I’m very eager to take what I’ve learned here back to Italy.”