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CASTINE, Maine - Maine Maritime Academy students, officers, and crew will visit southern U.S. and tropical ports as part of the college’s annual two-month training cruise to foreign and domestic ports-of-call. This year’s training cruise itinerary includes Galveston, Texas, May 18-21; Wilemstad, Curaçao, June 1-4; St. Georges, Bermuda, June 11-14; and Charleston, S.C., June 22-25. The ship will host a family day sail on the return leg from Searsport to Castine.
Under the command of Captain Leslie B. Eadie, III, of Brewer, Maine, master of the training ship, State of Maine, the ship will begin sailing operations at 7:15 a.m., and will depart Castine harbor at approximately 8 a.m., on Tuesday, May 8, 2012. The training cruise will commence in port on Friday, May 4, for pre-sailing preparation. Eadie, a 1976 graduate of the college, assumed command of the vessel following service as the interim master of the training ship during last year’s training cruise.
“Follow the Voyage,” MMA’s annual online ship tracking and training cruise activities web site, will be coordinated by students and staff as part of this year’s training activities. In its eleventh year of operation, the site covers the Academy’s annual training cruise from a variety of perspectives. In addition to an interactive tracking chart of the cruise, the site provides links devoted to teaching and educational materials for students of all ages. Once the ship is underway, the public is invited to join the voyage by visiting www.mainemaritime.edu and following the Cruise 2012 link.
Complementing the educational focus of MMA’s and training cruise, students and staff sailing aboard the State of Maine will work for the sixth consecutive year with the Belfast-based organization, Educational Passages, to launch small sailboats at various locations. Educational Passages utilizes 4.5 foot-long unmanned sailboats to enable the study of ocean wind and current patterns by school or community groups. Designed with assistance from an experienced naval architect, the boats are made of molded fiberglass and are capable of making long ocean passages. They are crafted to sail indefinitely downwind and will transmit their location and boat speed via a GPS interface for up to one year. The boats rely solely on wind and current power and need no outside assistance. MMA enjoys an ongoing relationship with Educational Passages. Initial sea trials were launched from MMA’s schooner Bowdoin in 2008, off the northeast cost of North America.
Due to shipboard security, the vessel will not be open to the general public for tours while in foreign or domestic ports. Well-wishers are welcomed and encouraged to view the vessel departure and return from the Maine Maritime Academy waterfront, however shipboard visits are not permitted.
On the return leg to Castine from Searsport, upper class students may invite their parents to join them. The day sail allows parents the unique opportunity to see the high level of technical proficiency and leadership achieved by their students. The training ship will return to its homeport of Castine, Maine, on Saturday, June 30. Arrival in Castine Harbor is expected at approximately 2 p.m., with docking anticipated at 2:30 p.m. Training cruise activity will continue in port through Monday, July 2.
In the days immediately following the completion of the training cruise, the ship will embark for a routine 5-year dry-docking in compliance with regulations of the American Bureau of Shipping and the U.S. Coast Guard. The ship will be sailed to and from dry-dock by its regular professional crew and attended by them throughout the maintenance period. The dry-dock period is anticipated to take place throughout all of July and into late August.
Students pursuing an officer's license from the U.S. Coast Guard as a third mate or third assistant engineer are required to train at sea for at least 60 days in each of their first three years at the Academy. Freshmen and juniors sail aboard the MMA vessel, while sophomores are assigned to merchant ships worldwide. In recent years, MMA training cruises have taken students to Aruba, Bermuda, Brazil, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Iceland, Ireland Italy, Malta, Poland, Russia, and Spain; as well as other European and Caribbean countries.
The 500-foot, 16,000-ton T/S State of Maine, the former USNS Tanner, originally served as a Navy oceanographic research vessel and was converted in 1997 to accommodate the training needs of the college. The fourth vessel to bear the name State of Maine, the ship is a modern, technologically advanced training vessel.
Maine Maritime Academy, founded in 1941, enrolls more than 900 students from 35 states and several foreign countries. The college awards A.S., B.S., and M.S. degrees in 15 fields of study.