Naval Academy plebes become midshipmen after reaching the top of Herndon Monument

Plebes at the Naval Academy officially became a fourth-class midshipmen Monday after they climbed to the top of the Herndon Monument.

The performance was achieved after the academy’s approximately 1,000-strong first class, known as plebes – are collected to help to reach the top of the 21-meter high monument at the Academy in Annapolis, MD.

View today’s Herndon Monument climb for the Class of 2020 even if you’re not on the Yard! Start time 1:30 pm

— U. S. Naval Academy (@NavalAcademy) 22 May 2017

Once at the top the group had to remove a plebe hat (known as a “dixie cup”), and swap it with a midshipman’s hat.

The challenge often takes one to three hours to complete. On Monday, it took about two-and-a-half hours.


The race to the top is a smooth one from the Academy upperclassmen fat the monument with 200 pounds of lard prior to the climb. In 2014, the fat was preserved as a result of concerns about the safety, but the class finished the climb in less than three minutes so it was to be re-applied the following year.

The first plebe to climb the monument did in 1940 and it became a tradition in the 1950’s after the fastest greased time so far – 44 minutes. The longest climb took four hours, according to WJLA.

The Herndon Climb, plebes are also required to take off their shoes prior to climbing.

The midshipman, who gets the hat to the top of the monument will be the first in his class to become an admiral, according to the legend surrounding the event.

The monument is named after Commander William Lewis Herndon.

In command of a ship is home-bound with the gold diggers of California in the 1800s, the ship against a hurricane off the coast of North Carolina. Herndon went down with the ship after attempting to rescue the vessel and the people onboard. The monument was erected in his honor after his death, according to FOX 5.

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