By Bob Wright, Texas A&M University-Galveston
For the first time in 12 years, the Texas A&M Maritime Academy’s cadets will sail together as an entire academy this summer beginning May 30. The cadets will be sailing aboard the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s 540 foot training ship Kennedy.
Since the last sailing of the training ship Texas Clipper II in 2004 most cadets of the Texas A&M Maritime Academy have been obtaining their summer training onboard other maritime academies’ training cruises or on commercial shipping.
Only 50 cadets can train aboard the Galveston academy’s smaller training ship the General Rudder. There will be close to 300 cadets onboard for this summer’s cruise aboard the TS Kennedy.
“This is a momentous time in our academy’s history,” said Texas A&M Galveston’s Chief Operating Officer, Col. Michael E. Fossum. “For the first time in over a decade our students and faculty will learn and train as a cohesive unit.”
The TS Kennedy was activated by MARAD to be temporarily chartered to the Texas A&M Maritime Academy for use as an at-sea traveling classroom. This was accomplished by the efforts of Associate Administrator Kevin Tokarski and Director of Atlantic Operations Jeff McMahon of the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD), RADM Francis McDonald, president of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Captain Mike Campbell, the crew of the TS Kennedy and the Texas A&M University at Galveston administration.
Cadets and faculty will join the TS Kennedy in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts on May 26 and depart on May 30. The entire two month summer training cruise will sail on to Florida, Louisiana, Texas and back to Florida and end in Massachusetts in late July. In addition to the cadets, 50 faculty and staff of Texas A&M Galveston will join the vessel to provide instruction and college services.
The ship has state-of-the-art maritime training systems that will allow the cadets to obtain valuable hands-on training in navigation and marine engineering systems.
Onboard classes will include Navigation, Meteorology, Propulsion Systems and Marine Technology. The ship also has Distant Learning capabilities allowing cadets to take classes via the Internet that originate from the main campus in Galveston. When not in class, the cadets perform all of the shipboard duties they would be assigned in a career at sea.
“For the first time in many years our academy has the opportunity to ship out all of our cadets together on one ship,” said Jack Clark, corps commander, Corps of Cadets, Texas A&M Maritime Academy.
“The motto of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets is ‘Through unity, strength,’ and now we have the opportunity to build, grow and create a first rate maritime academy.”
Meanwhile, in conjunction with local and federal elected officials, the Texas A&M Galveston administration is working closely with MARAD to secure a new and larger training ship that will be a much needed permanent asset for the Texas A&M Maritime Academy and as an emergency response vessel for the entire Gulf Coast.
For more information or to follow the voyage go to: http://www.tamug.edu/summerseaterm.