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, according to the itinerary released Monday.
The State of Maine, the MMA training vessel, will travel to ports in Marseille, France; a bunker port call at Gibraltar; Kiel, Germany; and Portsmouth, England, before returning to the U.S. for stops in Portland and Rockland on its way back to Castine.
Under the command of Capt. Larry Wade of Bradley, the 500-foot former U.S. Navy oceanographic research vessel will depart from Castine Harbor on May 4.
The training cruise provides at-sea training time for students pursuing an officer’s license from the U.S. Coast Guard as a third mate or third assistant engineer. They 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, Spain, and other European and Caribbean countries.
“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,” Wade said in a prepared release. “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.”
During the cruise, students and staff will again coordinate “Follow the Voyage,” MMA’s online ship tracking and training cruise activities Web site. 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.
The students and staff also will work with Belfast-based Educational Passages to launch small, unmanned sailboats at various locations to enable the study of ocean wind and current patterns by school or community groups.
The training ship will return to its home port of Castine on June 26.