June 18, 2018
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MMA training ship waits for parts

By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff

SEARSPORT, Maine — The State of Maine remained anchored at Searsport on Friday and will stay there at least through the weekend while awaiting the arrival of replacement parts for its damaged engine.

The ship, the training vessel for Maine Maritime Academy, had left Castine on Wednesday on its annual two-month training cruise when the exhaust manifold on the ship’s main engine “disintegrated” while the ship was still in Penobscot Bay. The ship used its electric backup engine to make its way to Searsport while crew and students assessed the damage.

On Friday, Capt. Larry Wade reported on the “Follow the Cruise” Captain’s Log that the ship officially had canceled its port call to Key West, Fla., which was the first scheduled stop on the cruise.

“It was not fair to keep the personnel and dock reserved for us any longer with the uncertainty of [the] length of repairs,” he wrote.

The ship’s student crews removed the damaged exhaust manifold Thursday and on Friday continued to remove insulating blankets, Wade reported. Students and permanent crew members are inspecting other manifold sections for possible problems. They discovered a crack in a “tee” piece at the No. 1 cylinder, and the college has ordered two more manifold pieces from Germany.

Wade said they also have decided to use a dye to check all of the lower manifold pieces for cracks. There is a good chance, he said, that all of the needed parts will be on board ship by Sunday. An engine technician from MaK, the engine’s manufacturer, arrived Friday to work with the crew on the repairs.

They do not know how long those repairs will take once the parts arrive.

The U.S. Coast Guard will have to inspect and sign off on any repairs before it will allow the ship to leave port and continue the training cruise.

Although the ship is at anchor, the work being done on board ship still counts as “sea time” toward Coast Guard licensing requirements. On Friday, Wade said, the students operated the ship’s lifeboats to assess gear rigging, engine operation and to check for any maintenance needs.

Students on board are divided into different watches and alternate different duties. Wade said students who had not yet worked in the engine room where the engine problems occurred were “champing at the bit” to get into the engine room.

Otherwise, he said, everyone is in very good spirits.

The training cruise is scheduled to take the State of Maine and the 205 students and 55 crew and staff members to ports in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico before returning to Castine in June.

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