SEARSPORT, Maine — Engine problems have halted the Maine Maritime Academy training vessel and forced it to anchor in Searsport until the problem can be repaired.
According to the captain’s log, posted on the MMA Web site, the problem developed Wednesday after the training vessel State of Maine had left Castine Harbor.
“We were outbound East Bay about opposite Rockland when the main engine exhaust manifold between number 4 and 6 cylinders literally disintegrate about a three-foot section,” Capt. Larry Wade said in the log. “The manifold is cast iron and quite rugged. Why this happened, we do not know at this time as there is no evidence of old fractures.”
Wade also noted that the college recently had renewed all the expansion joints, hangers and gaskets on all cylinder manifolds as part of routine maintenance and inspections on the main engine.
The crew switched to the ship’s electric propulsion motor, turned the ship around and headed back up Penobscot Bay to an anchorage at Searsport. As a safety precaution, they contacted the Penobscot Tractor Tug Co., which sent a tug to escort the 500-foot vessel.
The students and crew members have removed the damaged manifold and are removing the expansion joints in preparation for inspections and replacement. Representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard and a surveyor from the U.S. Maritime Administration were on board Thursday. The Coast Guard determined that repairs would have to be made before the ship will be allowed to sail.
A replacement part has been located and is being shipped from Germany. A representative from the manufacturer Atlantic Cat/MaK also is on his way to Searsport.
Although the ship is at anchor, Wade noted that the cruise continues and that the mishap has provided valuable, although unexpected, training for both the deck and engine students.
“‘Stuff’ happens all the time in the real world and I am happy to report that the students on watch reacted with extreme professionalism,” he wrote.
The State of Maine left Castine on Wednesday morning with 205 students and 55 staff and crew on board. The cruise is expected to sail to ports in the U.S., Newfoundland and Puerto Rico.