The Commander and Chiefs

Cadet Chiefs

Cadet Chiefs Kevin Trifone and Devon Campbell aside Training Ship Commander Meghan Sullivan

For three of the highest ranking cadets at the Academy, the next six weeks will be a test of their knowledge and abilities as they lead their shipmates through the 2020 Sea Term...a Sea Term that will find them transiting the Panama Canal and participating in the centuries old “Shellback Ceremony” marking a mariner’s crossing of the earth’s equator. And while they’ll be visiting ports in Curacao, Panama, Costa Rica, and Tampa, Florida, everyone knows Sea Term is no pleasure cruise, school is in session. During what is an extremely busy pre-departure week, they were able to talk a bit about what's ahead and their thoughts on their positions.

Cadet Chief Mate Devon Campbell (Pennsville, NJ) manages the Deck Rates, senior cadet officers who specialize in specific areas of the deck such as navigation, lifeboats, and training. She works beside the TS Kennedy’s Chief Mate to ensure that the ship’s safety management system (SMS) is being completed and jobs are being done correctly. Devon organizes and motivates cadets to make sure they get the most of their experience, gaining seamanship skills that they will take with them on commercial ships and into the industry after graduation. “The opportunity to lead more than 500 cadets is one I am so grateful for. That the Captain and the Kennedy’s crew believe in me makes me feel proud, and that all of my hard work has begun to pay off.”

Campbell’s counterpart on the Engine side is Cadet Chief Engineer Kevin Trifone (Milton, MA). As the highest ranking engineer at the Academy, Trifone’s duties mirror Campbell’s, though almost exclusively below deck in the ship’s machine shops and engine rooms where he oversees the schedules, maintenance, and watches, all the while making sure his cadets appear for their shifts on time and ready. Though chosen Cadet Chief by those who teach and work with him in the Marine Engineering department, Trifone remains modest. "It's an amazing opportunity at such a young age to be exposed to this much responsibility and leadership...I'm humbled by the experience."

And last, but certainly not least, is Training Ship Commander, and Marine Engineer, Meghan Sullivan (Hanover, MA). Overseeing pretty much everything (and every cadet) on board, Sullivan acts as the primary liaison between the cadet leadership, the ship's Master and Commandant of Cadets in all matters pertaining to cadet discipline, military bearing, supply, and coordination of the daily routine, shipboard operations, and the administration of the Cadet Officers. "I really thought I'd be nervous and tried to do as much prep work as I could leading up to this week, but to tell you the truth I've been so busy jumping from one thing to the next it's been almost seamless...there's no time to worry!"

At a place where leadership has always been a byword, there's much more to these onboard positions than perhaps meets the eye. When you are working and living with your shipmates, if you do not work well together, well, that can be a problem. These three young leaders have been chosen for the types of qualities where common goals and the teamwork required to get there come before anything else...even themselves.