During the winter of 1969-1970, I was one of about 100 Naval Academy and NROTC midshipmen who were screened as candidates for the Foreign Exchange program which involves the U. S. Navy with the navies of some 17 other nations. Academically, I had minored in French and later majored in European Area Studies; therefore, I relished the thought of spending six weeks at sea on board a French vessel as opposed to spending four to six weeks on another summer cruise similar to my Youngster cruise in the USS Turner (DDR-834).
Having survived the screening for military aptitude, academics, and conduct, I was interviewed by three midshipmen who had participated in such cruises the previous year. Still further screening by the operations and plans division weighed the candidate’s knowledge and interest in the country of his choice and, where applicable, his language proficiency.
Early in March 1970, I was informed that I was one of 24 who had been accepted and that, unlike some midshipmen who had to accept countries for which they had not applied, I would get my French vessel.