East China Sea - Seven midshipmen embarked the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), nicknamed "Big Bad John," from July 3-21.

The midshipmen joined Big Bad John during its port visit to Darwin, Australia and remained aboard the ship for three weeks as part of a summer cruise program designed to teach them about shipboard life. The midshipmen were assigned junior petty officers as running mates to help them with day-to-day shipboard life.

"It's humbling and really eye opening to be forward-deployed like we are," said Midshipman 3rd Class Baliee Ward. "I have a lot of respect for the Sailors in 7th Fleet knowing that they are here for a purpose and a mission."

The midshipmen experienced several underway training events involving the ship's combat systems, engineering, damage control, and medical departments to see first-hand the busy pace a forward-deployed ship. The midshipmen also saw how Navy ships receive supplies and fuel during a replenishment-at-sea (RAS) with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Towada-class fast-combat support ship JS Hamana (AOE 424).

"I will not forget my time here on Big Bad John," said Midshipman 3rd Class Charles Dimer. "I became a better person from the experience and from the knowledge that the ship and her crew offered to me, and I couldn't be more grateful."

McCain is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.