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Photos: Plebe Summer in the COVID-19 era

For new appointees at the U.S. Naval Academy, pandemic has forced some training changes

Plebes begin their day at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., on July 28 with a morning run at sunrise.
Plebes begin their day at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., on July 28 with a morning run at sunrise. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, welcomed its Class of 2024 on June 29 in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Following a two-week mandatory quarantine, training for the new appointees, or “plebes,” kicked off on July 20. CQ Roll Call spent a day at the academy last week documenting how the pandemic is affecting the Navy’s future leaders.

Their day begins at dawn with an hour of physical training. The plebes then depart into their respective companies for a series of activities around physical training, marksmanship and character development. While the six weeks of training aren’t too different from years past, COVID-19 has changed how activities can be done.

Plebes do pushups as part of a morning session of physical training. Approximately 1,200 men and women make up this year’s plebe class.
Plebes go through an endurance course as part of their physical training.
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A group of plebes cheer on a peer as he navigates one of the obstacle courses.
Detailers, who are upperclassmen at the Naval Academy, offer instructions to plebes at the gun range.
A group of plebes practice firefighting skills as part of damage control training.
Plebes arrive for swim training at one of U.S. Naval Academy pools.
A plebe takes off her mask before swim training.
Plebes float on their backs during swim training.
In addition to physical training, character development is a crucial aspect of their naval education. During etiquette training, plebes are instructed to make a “b” and “d” with their hands to indicate which side bread and drinks go on a table.
Plebes wear face masks as they sit in a classroom during character development lessons.
Plebes belay a classmate as he ascends a rock wall as part of physical training.
Plebes use hand sanitizer during training at the rock-climbing wall.
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