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A midshipman is a rank or title used by naval organizations to denote someone presently in training to become a commissioned officer.

Historical Context

The following information is transcribed from "Naval Ceremonies, Customs, and Traditions" by Vice Admiral William P. Mack, USN (ret) and Lieutenant Commander Royal W. Connell, USN.

Men or boys originally stationed amidships to carry messages, to bring up ammunition, and to relay messages from aft to the gundecks. It was a ship's rating in the British Navy until the end of the Napoleonic wars. A midshipman could be disrated at any time by the captain.

In 1740, admirals and captains were permitted a certain number of followers; in some cases a flag officer was permitted fifty. They were rated midshipmen, tailors, barbers, fiddlers, footmen, and stewards. It was in 1815 that midshipmen became a naval rank in the British service. The midshipman's time on the books counted towards promotion as a lieutenant, for two years of the six years' service required at seas had to be served as a midshipman or mate. Often midshipmen were entered on the books a year or so before actual service. It was a British personnel problem in 1755 how to bring up officers and gentlemen who should be able seamen, skilled to manage a ship and maintain a sea fight judiciously, be of discretion and courage, and able to speak to the seamen in their own language. "Middy" is a term disliked by midshipmen and used most frequently by elderly ladies, some land-going writers of sea stories, and a few Annapolitans.

Until the advent of steam, the life of the midshipman was often most disagreeable. The food was bad; the quarters cramped and located below the waterline; and the duties were onerous and manifold. Without the full status of an officer and still not a member of the crew, his position aboard ship was quite indefinite until regulations became more specific. The United States Naval Regulations (1818) state: "The commanding officers will consider the midshipmen as a class of officers, meriting in an especial degree their fostering care." From all accounts this "fostering care" was capable of wide interpretation. Although a midshipman is an officer in a very qualified sense, it will forever stand as a record that Samuel Barron was appointed and given a midshipman's warrant on April 11, 1812, when he was three years and four months old. He was "on duty" at half pay (midshipman's pay $19 per month) and a few cents in place of his grog ration. At the age of eight, in 1816, he reported for active duty at the Norfolk Navy Yard, and went to sea in the USS Columbus in 1820. Farragut was a midshipman at none and one half, and Louis M. Goldsborough, who became a distinguished Civil War officer, received his warrant at the age of seven years and ten months. In the British Navy, there is record of babies being entered on the rolls at age one. In most cases the captain collefect all pay and allowances and the original five pounds of "bounty money."

The old title "passed midshipmen" in the United States Navy meant originally a midshipman who had passed his exmination, entitling him to promotion to a lieutenant. When the title of ensign was introduced into the American Navy, those awaiting promotion were called midshipman while undergraduates were called cadet midshipmen. In 1819 a board, of which Commander Bainbridge was senior member, met in New York to give the first examinations that had ever been given midshipman in that Navy for promotion.

Starfleet Usage

Within Starfleet, midshipmen are students presently attending Starfleet Academy. They are split up by year of attendance, from the first to the fourth year of training. In levels of seniority, midshipman have no authority over enlisted personnel and are subordinate to commissioned officers under all circumstances. They wear the following rank insignia:

Rank Insignia Abbrev. Note
Officer Candidate R-OC.png Y-OC.png B-OC.png OC Attending the Officer Training School.
Midshipman First Class 2410 SF M-4 CMD.png 2410 SF M-4 SVC.png 2410 SF M-4 SCI.png MID1 Fourth Year, "Senior"
Midshipman Second Class 2410 SF M-3 CMD.png 2410 SF M-3 SVC.png 2410 SF M-3 SCI.png MID2 Third Year, "Junior"
Midshipman Third Class 2410 SF M-2 CMD.png 2410 SF M-2 SVC.png 2410 SF M-2 SCI.png MID3 Second Year, "Sophomore"
Midshipman Fourth Class 2410 SF M-1 CMD.png 2410 SF M-1 SVC.png 2410 SF M-1 SCI.png MID4 First Year, "Freshman"

See Also

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