CASTINE, Maine — Maine Maritime Academy will receive nearly $400,000 from the federal government, which the school’s Board of Trustees is free to use in any way it sees fit.
The funds are part of $2.3 million the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration is providing to the country’s six state maritime academies, which train men and women for service in the U.S. Merchant Marine, the country’s armed forces and its intermodal transportation system, according to a media release from the department.
“With the majority of our goods moved over water, well-trained merchant mariners are critical in supporting our nation’s security and economy,” Ray LaHood, transportation secretary, said in a statement. “This money will help ensure that the men and women at our academies get the training they need to keep our country’s economy moving forward today and well into the future.”
MMA could use the $392,913 for any number of purposes, such as paying for fuel for its training vessel or supporting the school’s current effort to build an engineering building, William Brennan, MMA’s president, told the Bangor Daily News on Monday. He said the board would consider the use of the funds at its next meeting in November.
The federal funds come from the sale of obsolete vessels from the Maritime Administration’s National Defense Reserve Fleet, Brennan said. “The more of those vessels they sell, the better it is for all of us,” he said.
As a result of its occasional and unplanned nature, though, the school can’t budget ahead of time for the funds. “We look at it as proceeds that come through the institution as any other gift that a foundation or philanthropic entity might provide,” Brennan said.
The Maritime Administration provided MMA with a similar gift of $500,000 in May. Those funds, according to Brennan, were put in an endowment account to support the construction of the engineering building. “That’s the determination of board made, and I suspect it may make the same determination in this case, but it really is up to the board when we receive large sums of this nature.”
Other maritime academies receiving funds are California Maritime Academy in Vallejo, Calif.; the Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City, Mich.; the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, Mass.; SUNY Maritime College in Fort Schuyler, N.Y.; and Texas Maritime Academy in Galveston, Texas.
The Maritime Administration supports the state maritime academies through direct funding, scholarships, and the provision of training vessels.