Women Complete Studies Aboard Brazilian Navy Training Ship

Women Complete Studies Aboard Brazilian Navy Training Ship

By Andréa Barretto/Diálogo
September 27, 2018

The Brazilian Naval Academy’s first mixed class completes the last phase of officer training during its cruise through 10 countries.

Training ship Brasil will return to Rio de Janeiro Naval Base in December 2018, with future Brazilian Navy (MB, in Portuguese) officers aboard. The 32nd Midshipmen Instructional Cruise, the first to embark a group of women, began July 22nd. The cruise concludes the Brazilian Naval Academy’s four-year studies

“This moment is a dream come true and a unique learning opportunity,” said MB Midshipman Fernanda Fonseca, one of the 12 female service members aboard. The women are part of the 2014 class, the first to have women applicants at the Naval Academy, MB’s military officer school. Following a new law, MB opened its doors to women to join the Quartermaster Corps, responsible for administrative aspects.

During the instructional cruise, the 208 midshipmen traveled through 15 ports in 10 countries. Along the path, students attended hours of theoretical and hands-on lessons, participated in demonstrations, worked in teams.

“One of the goals of the instructional cruise is to contribute to the professional and cultural training of future officers, which started at the Naval Academy,” MB Captain Vagner Belarmino de Oliveira, commander of the training ship Brasil, said. In December, upon returning to Brazil, midshipmen will be ready to become officers as ensigns.

Day to day

The training ship routine falls into four categories: in-class instruction, navigation, tactical training simulator, and service post surveillance exercises that allow midshipmen to follow officers’ activities aboard. Service members in training share a common curriculum, and also carry out specific activities based on the career path they chose—Navy, Marine Corps or Quartermaster Corps—upon completing the second year at the Naval Academy.

The common curriculum includes navigation, weather forecast, naval administration, and seamen guidelines. The intent is to even out knowledge and share naval traditions and culture with all departments of the Navy, Capt. Belarmino said.

The 12 women aboard will pursue quartermaster careers. Service members who chose this career path carry out daily activities that include administration and logistics, in addition to gaining knowledge about the organization and support of a naval force.

The future quartermaster officers also follow and execute hands-on tasks, such as drafting administrative documents, and lists of supplies for a war ship. “The approach is focused on things like providing meals, materials and spare parts, personnel payment, and finance resource management,” Capt. Belarmino said.

For MB Midshipman Naraiane Machado Feitosa, the routine aboard was gratifying and motivating. “We have many hours of instruction, but always focused on practical application, which takes us closer to our future roles,” she said.

Midshipman Fonseca also emphasized the intensity of the experience. “The biggest challenge aboard, given such a competent crew, is to make the most of our knowledge in a short period of time so that by the end of the cruise we are ready to take on our duties as ensigns.”

From end to end

In addition to completing midshipmen instructions, the cruise also fosters foreign relations for Brazil and its future Navy officers. “Our goal is to establish close links with partner nations, through the participation of guest officers from other navies, and also present our flag, tradition, and culture to several countries,” Capt. Belarmino said.

The training ship travels with a crew of international officers from the navies of 14 countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and the United States. Guests follow the same routine and schedules as Brazilian midshipmen, creating an opportunity for students to exchange and learn with senior service members.

Midshipmen complete their multicultural experience with stops at international ports. The training ship anchored first in Spain and will stop last in Colombia, before returning to Brazil, in December. On land, the crew visits technology development companies and military resources, naval academies, and other military organizations. City tours focused on historical monuments and sites, as well as the history of civilizations, are also part of the program.

Adjustments and the future

Before embarking on its instructional cruise, the training ship Brasil had to undergo a series of changes to accommodate the female crew, just as the Naval Academy did back in 2014, when it opened its doors to women for the first time. “We had to make adjustments, especially to the residential areas, such as restrooms, cabins, and quarters, to ensure privacy,” said Capt. Belarmino.

According to the officer, women’ enrollment in the Naval Academy is a step forward that benefits all involved. “Past lessons and the success of today’s experiences show that the institution is on the right path, and that it made the right decision by encouraging women to enroll in the Naval Academy,” Capt. Belarmino said.