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A midshipman was a term for an undergraduate student in training to be a commissioned officer at a naval academy, whether ocean-going navy or starfaring one (e.g., Starfleet Academy).
The term is seemingly interchangeable with cadet, though one source asserts that midshipmen are not cadets until their second through fourth years at Starfleet Academy. (Orion Press: "First Contact 101")

Midshipmen were divided into four classes:

  • midshipman fourth class = freshman
  • midshipman third class = sophomore
  • midshipman second class = junior
  • midshipman first class = senior

Midshipmen are military personnel and may be deployed, trained and disciplined as such in time of war or emergency. (Star Trek)

Peter Preston introduced himself to Admiral James T. Kirk in 2285 as "Midshipman First Class Peter Preston. Engineer's mate, sir!" (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Drusilla Brescia was a midshipman first class who was Carolyn Adiwoso’s student advisor during Carolyn's first year at the Academy. A year later, during the so-called Whalesong Crisis (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home), Midshipman Third Class Adiwoso was one of many who helped with rescue operations. (Star Trek: Shadowstar Station: Encyclopedia Shadowstar)

Origin of the termEdit

The term originated during Earth's 17th century, where a midshipman was a term for an experienced seaman. The word was derived from amidships (the center of the ship, along the line of the keel), where the seaman either worked or was berthed.

By the beginning of the 18th century, the term midshipman was used for a commissioned officer candidate. There was no academy, per se, at the time and training was entirely aboard ships. One's rank or grade was dependent on duration of experience.

In the 21st century United States Navy, all midshipmen were considered line officers, with the limits on their authority imposed by their level of training.

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