It’s been a rough week for those of us associated with the Naval Academy.
While it’s always inspiring and exciting to see the Army-Navy game (despite bitter cold and interminable security lines), it was gut-wrenching to listen to Army sing second.
With the sting of that defeat still quite real, along comes news of an audit of the Academy’s facilities. It did not paint a pretty picture.
According to Bloomberg: A previously undisclosed report by the Naval Audit Service warned the deteriorating academy in Annapolis, Maryland, poses potential “hindrances to executing the academic and physical fitness mission” while risking the “loss of academic accreditation” as well as “safety and health hazards and regulatory violations.”
The study further points out that funding for restoration has decreased and, maybe worse yet, improvements have been planned, but money for them was redirected toward The Fleet.
If you know a Midshipman, you’ve probably heard about the leaks in Bancroft Hall or the fact that it seems to get colder inside than out in the winter and warmer inside than out in the summer. When you stroll The Yard, it’s hard not to be impressed. The buildings are stunning, but Bancroft’s original two wings and rotunda are more than 115 years old. Clearly, it needs some TLC.
The Yard is not in shambles, not by a long shot. And improvements are underway. The long-awaited parking garage opened in time for Commissioning Week earlier this year, a new building (supposedly the last building “ever” to be built on The Yard) to house cybersecurity is under construction, the iconic chapel dome is getting a facelift, and, on a less positive note, the seawall is to be extended to thwart rising sea levels.
The bottom line – things are not perfect. I’ve said it before – people on the outside often see life at the Academy as some sort of Xanadu. The Midshipmen are seen as the best of the best and The Yard is strewn with magnificent buildings (at least from the outside) and inspiring monuments. The tradition and prestige are palpable. But this is real life and real life is not perfect.
The stories about the drug ring brought that into a harsh light and other Midshipmen were cut loose for other reasons. Other Midshipmen made a decision to leave and follow other paths. The route to and through the Academy is narrow.
All those associated with the Academy have so much to be proud of. And part of that pride is knowing that while it’s not perfect, it’s still an amazing place to be a part of and being optimistic that the best is yet to come.