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A non-commissioned rank in all navies (Fr. aspirant, Ger. Fühnrich, It. guardiamarina), immediately below that of sub-lieutenant in the Royal Navy and ensign in the US Navy. The name dates from the early 17th century when young gentlemen were sent to sea as captain's servants or King's Letter boys to obtain the necessary training to become midshipmen and then officers. The name comes, according to the Shorter Oxford Dictionary, from the fact that these young gentlemen were stationed amidships where, doubtless, they could observe what was going on without getting in the way.

Nowadays, the service of midshipmen is essentially one of training for higher command. After graduating from naval college they are sent to sea where they are placed in charge of a ship's boats, keep watch at sea and in harbour under the eye of a senior officer, and generally play a part, under supervision, in all the ship's activities, and at the end of their time at sea they take the necessary promotion exams.

See also Talbot, Mary Anne.

See also Talbot, Mary Anne.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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