CASTINE, Maine -- Maine Maritime Academy students, officers, and crew will visit ports in Europe this spring 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, Marseille, France, May 19-22; a bunker port call at Gibraltar, May 24-26; Kiel, Germany, June 1-4; Portsmouth England, June 7-10; and Portland, Maine, June 20-23. The ship will make a brief stop in Rockland, Maine, for a family day sail on the return leg to Castine. Under the command of Captain Larry Wade of Bradley, Maine, the training ship, State of Maine, will begin departure operations 10:00 a.m., and will depart from Castine harbor at approximately 10:30 a.m., on Tuesday, May 4, 2010. The training cruise will commence in port on Friday, April 30, for pre-sailing preparation.
According to Captain Wade, students participating in this year’s training cruise will have the opportunity to visit a number of modern European ports. “We rotate our domestic and international itineraries to give as many students as possible an opportunity to make a trans-Atlantic crossing during their training with us,” said Wade. “Maine Maritime Academy graduates are responsible for much of today’s global trade transport and for many of our students, this is their first experience of what is to come in their careers. The excitement builds from the day we begin training cruise in port.”
“Shoreside excursions and learning opportunities are always a highlight of a European training itinerary,” he added. While in Germany, students will be able to visit the German Naval Memorial at Laboe, located at the entrance of the Kiel fjord. Featuring a restored World War II German U-Boat and a monument tower, the memorial honors seamen of all nations and calls for peaceful seafaring on the open seas.
“In the international spirit of maritime hospitality and friendship, our friends at L’Ecole Nationale de La Marine Marchand de Marseille (ENMM) will serve as our local hosts, “said Wade. “We’ll welcome their students, staff, and faculty to a shipboard reception, and they have invited us to tour their campus and simulation facilities. This is a tremendous opportunity for our students, to actually experience what we mean when we say that this is a global industry. It’s far different from working and communicating electronically when you meet your future international seafaring colleagues face-to-face.”
According to Wade, in Kiel, Germany, and Portsmouth, England, the training ship will be berthed at Naval facilities of the countries. The staff at both locations are noted for their past attention to the needs of the training ship and crew, and have offered logistical support, as well as cultural and sporting opportunities for MMA students and staff.
“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 ninth 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 2010 link.
Complementing the educational focus of MMA’s and training cruise, students and staff sailing aboard the State of Maine will work for the fourth 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 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.
Coordinated by program founder, Richard Baldwin, Educational Passages will work with local schools to facilitate this year’s program aboard the State of Maine. To follow the boats, visit http://www.iboattrack.com/, or contact Baldwin, Richard.Baldwin@EducationalPassages.com, 207-338-4087, for more information.
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 Rockland, 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 26. Arrival in Castine Harbor is expected at approximately 6:30 p.m., with docking anticipated at 7 p.m. Training cruise activity will continue in port through Monday, June 28.
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, 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 850 students from 35 states and several foreign countries. The college awards A.S., B.S., and M.S. degrees in 15 fields of study.