CASTINE, Maine, Wednesday, April 27—Today, Maine Maritime Academy (MMA), one of the United States’ foremost maritime universities offering degrees in engineering, science, management, and transportation began their annual training voyage on the Training Ship State of Maine (TSSOM). Students, officers, and crew departed Castine’s waterfront at 3:30 p.m. PM for foreign and domestic ports of call. This year’s itinerary includes Charleston, South Carolina; Bermuda; Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal; Reykjavik, Iceland; and Portland, Maine. Schedule and ports are subject to change.
This late spring voyage marks the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that TSSOM will make an Atlantic Ocean crossing. It also marks the first time that newly inducted Academy President Jerry Paul ’89 and Academy Provost Dr. Keith Williamson will join cadets on board. Under the direction of Captain Gordon ‘Mac’ MacArthur, master of the vessel, the educational cruise commenced in port on Sunday, April 24 for pre-sailing preparation.
“It is an honor to join the Maine Maritime men and women on their training voyage this spring to witness their academic and hands-on training in action,” said President Paul. “As an alum of the Academy these practical elements of our offering are special to me, and vital in what we provide as a school and the difference in our education. It also demonstrates the unique MMA Experience whereby our students see the world in addition to earning a college education unmatched by any other.”
MMA’s hands on academic offering was recently recognized in the 2022 Georgetown University study analyzing colleges where low-income students receive the highest return on investment, stating that among public bachelor’s degree institutions, Maine Maritime Academy has the highest returns for low-income students, with net economic gains of $2.2 million.
Well-wishers are welcomed to follow the ship’s journey through the cruise blog at: cruise.mainemaritime.edu.
“Our professors transition from their regular teaching roles in campus labs and classrooms to seafarers on our training ship. They stand alongside and assess our students as they operate the ship and prepare for competitive employment in the global maritime industry. Training voyages are the pinnacle of that experience,” said Dr. Keith Williamson. “I commend both our faculty and students on their dedication to these efforts.”
During the two-month journey students earn their sea time and perform STCW (Standards for Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) competencies required to become U.S. Merchant Marine Officers licensed by the United States Coast Guard. Freshmen and juniors sail aboard TSSOM while sophomores are assigned to merchant ships worldwide.
“Maine Maritime’s regimental division is one of the gems of our Academy. Through this program, our students learn an unparalleled level of self-discipline, character, integrity and leadership. Our annual training voyage reinforces those principles,” said Captain John Cashman, Commandant Maine Maritime. “Under the leadership of Captain MacArthur and his team these cadets are learning from the best while at sea.”
In past years, MMA training cruises have taken students to Aruba, Bermuda, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Poland, Portugal, and Russia, and other European, Caribbean, and U.S. destinations.
The 500-foot, 16,000-ton Training Ship State of Maine, was originally commissioned as the USNS Tanner which served as a Navy oceanographic research vessel before being converted in 1997 to accommodate the training needs of the college. The fourth vessel to bear the name State of Maine, the ship provides a wide array of mechanical and navigation systems for the students to use in training while experiencing the complexities and enjoyment of a career at sea.
The Academy is slated to receive a new training ship in fall 2024, one of six vessels being built as part of the Maritime Administration’s National Security Multi-mission Vessel (NSMV) development program.
The NSMV is a new class of vessels designed specifically for training purposes, with eight classrooms, a full training bridge, lab spaces and an auditorium. The vessel will also be designed to respond to national disasters, as the TS State of Maine did in response to Hurricane Katrina. The ship includes two separate engine rooms providing significant spaces for engine training. Plans call for the ship to berth up to 1,000 people in times of humanitarian need. It will have roll-on/roll-off capability and container storage, full hospital facilities, and a helicopter landing pad.
ABOUT Maine Maritime Academy
Maine Maritime Academy is a co-educational, public college on the coast of Maine offering 22 programs of study in engineering, management, science, and transportation to promote the maritime interests of the United States. The college serves approximately 950 undergraduate and graduate students in career-oriented degree programs. The job placement rate for MMA graduates is approximately 90 percent within 90 days of graduation with very high paying jobs. The college is consistently recognized for providing a high-value education by organizations such as the Brookings Institution, U.S. News and World Report, and Money Magazine. The 2022 Report by Georgetown University ranked MMA #1 among all public colleges for return on investment for low-income students at public bachelor’s degree institutions.
Kate Noel, MMA