On The Yard


    Top Questions Asked About USNA

    By Bill the Goat on December 9, 2023

    Top Questions Asked About USNA

    Common FAQs about the U.S. Naval Academy


    We’re here to satisfy everyone’s curiosity. The U.S. Naval Academy is an institution of great tradition and history, and it’s full of interesting activities that we encourage you to enjoy. Here are the top questions people ask about USNA—and most importantly, their answers.

    How do I visit the Naval Academy? 

    Here’s the address: 52 King George Street, Annapolis, MD 21402


    When Driving:

    • From Route 50 East and West take exit 24, Rowe Boulevard. Stay in the right lane
    • After crossing College Creek (second bridge), take a slight right off Rowe Boulevard
    • At traffic light, proceed straight onto Northwest Street
    • Take a right onto Church Circle
    • Take the 4th right onto Duke of Gloucester Street
    • Turn left onto Green Street, and the Annapolis City Dock is one block away


    When Walking:

    • From the Annapolis City Dock, walk one block on Randall Street
    • Pedestrian entrances are at the Visitor Access Center at Gate 1, located on Randall Street and Prince George Street
    • The John Barry Gate for pedestrian access is located at the corner of Craig Street and Prince George Street


    Note: Everyone 18 and older must have a U.S. government-issued photo ID or current passport to enter.


    For Parking, the Noah Hillman Garage is the largest and most convenient parking garage open to the public for visiting the Naval Academy, and you can check the site for more parking and shuttle options.


    Who is Bill the Goat?

    This much loved mascot is now in his 37th iteration. He became a good luck symbol when a beloved pet goat that had accompanied sailors out to sea passed away. Two young officers were transporting his skin to the taxidermist after they docked in Baltimore and were waylaid by a Navy football game, where they ran onto the field during half-time with the skin and elicited great laughter from the midshipmen. They won the game and the goat became their legendary mascot, next showing up years later in 1893 as the sea-goat El Cid at the fourth Army-Navy game. He helped them win the game and his successors have been bringing luck to  Navy ever since. You can get more details on the stories over the years here.


    Related: The Making of a Mascot: Bill the Goat.


    What is the Herndon Monument Climb?

    Recently moved to the week prior to Commissioning Week, the Herndon Monument Climb is a rite of plebe passage. Before the climb, an upperclassman places a dixie cup  atop the 21-foot tall structure, which was built to honor Commander William Lewis Herndon, a brave sea captain who went down with his ship, saving countless lives ahead of his own. Upperclassmen from the 1st company smear the obelisk shortening to make it even more challenging, and the plebes must work together to ascend the obelisk, remove the cover (hat) and replace it with an upperclassmen’s cover, thus signifying their move into fourth class midshipmen as “Plebes no more!” It’s rumored that the plebe who removes and replaces the cap will be the first admiral in their class , but that prophecy has yet to be fulfilled. You can learn more about this fun and exciting tradition here.


    Related: One of the Greatest Struggles You’ll Ever See: The Herndon Climb.


    Where do Midshipmen Live?

    All 4,000+ midshipmen live in one of the largest dorms in the United States, Bancroft Hall. Affectionately named “Mother B,” this beautiful Beaux Arts building houses everything they need, from dorm rooms, to a dining hall, to a post office, uniform shop, laundry services, and more in its 4.8 miles of corridors. You can tour part of Bancroft Hall and see the beautiful and solemn Memorial Hall, which pays homage to those who have lost their lives in service to our country. You can also see an example of a midshipman dorm room. Bancroft Hall is the heart of the Academy. It’s a grand and historical space that’s a must-see anytime you visit the Yard.


    Related: Bancroft Hall: The Place They Call Home.



    Where do Midshipmen Eat?

    Located in Bancroft Hall, King Hall is the midshipmen dining hall. It dishes up over 13,500 meals a day, prepared in industrial sized appliances that mirror the type of mess hall eating you’d find on a naval ship. Hot meals are served within  five minutes of midshipmen taking their seats. Named for Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, King Hall offers a variety of meals each day, and is well-known for some fan favorites, like buffalo chicken sandwiches, tacos and burritos, hamburgers, and mac n’ cheese. One hundred pounds of peanut butter are also consumed daily.


    Related: Behind the Scenes: Feeding the Masses at King Hall.


    How Does Liberty Work?

    Plebes can be in Annapolis or the surrounding area with town liberty on Saturdays from noon to midnight and have yard liberty within the USNA complex on Sundays. Upperclassmen have town liberty aligned with class weekends, and they also are granted a limited number of overnight weekends based on class.


    What is the NABSD?

    The Naval Academy Business Services Division (NABSD) is a nonappropriated organization with 20 different divisions that deliver retail products and services to the midshipmen, and all of their proceeds support the Brigade’s extracurricular activities like cultural arts, theater, music, club sports and more promoting camaraderie, teamwork and fun. When you shop at the USNA Gift Shop and Navyonline.com, dine on the Yard, or take a USNA Tour, NABSD uses these proceeds for the midshipmen.


    Can I shop at the Midshipmen Store?

    You’re eligible to shop at the Midshipmen Store if you’re a midshipman,, or a parent of a midshipman, alumni or their dependents, as well as a member of the U.S. Naval Academy faculty and staff, Blue and Gold Officers, Naval Academy Club and other groups as authorized.. Don’t worry if you’re not eligible, as you can  visit Navyonline.com or the USNA Gift Shop to show your Navy support.


    What’s Currently Happening at the Academy? 

    In addition to the USNA academic calendar is the public events calendar, which provides  important graduation activities at USNA. The USNA Nimitz library is a great source of information too. 


    How do I Apply to the USNA? 

    You can begin the application process as early as your Junior year in high school and it is encouraged to apply early. Applicants must submit a preliminary application, be nominated, pass a fitness assessment, and more. You can find out what it takes to make it into the USNA here.


    Related: An Academic Tour: USNA Majors


    Be a Part of USNA

    Want to know the best way to get answers to your questions? Come see us and take a tour. When you visit the Yard, you’ll get to experience what it’s like to be a midshipman and get a first-hand look at how the Academy works. Plus, your dining, shopping and tour proceeds will support the midshipmen that support our freedom. The Naval Academy is a beautiful place where history happens every day. It doesn’t have to be a mystery any longer. Come see us and be a part of it.


    Book a Tour

    Bill the Goat
    Written by Bill the Goat | December 9, 2023


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