CASTINE, Maine — Maine Maritime Academy was one of seven maritime academies in the country to each receive a $1 million donation from a government program that recycles obsolete vessels, the Department of Transportation announced Wednesday.
The money came from the sale of vessels from the Maritime Administration’s National Defense Reserve Fleet, a fleet of 120 vessels that serve as a reserve of ships for national defense and national emergencies.
A quarter of the proceeds of the sale of these vessels is distributed to maritime academies, as dictated by the 1994 National Maritime Heritage Act. The schools use the money for “facility and training ship maintenance, repair and modernization, and for the purchase of simulators and fuel,” the DOT statement said.
“The money will be used to support the training elements of the annual training cruise, which includes fuel and port fees, as well as other aspects of hands-on mariner training,” said MMA director of college relations Jennifer DeJoy. The annual training cruise is a two-month voyage where MMA students practice skills they’ve learned in the classroom.
Each of the six state maritime academies — the Maine Maritime Academy, California Maritime Academy, Great Lakes Maritime Academy, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, SUNY Maritime College and Texas Maritime Academy — and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy will receive $1 million as a result of this program.
The money for the donation comes from vessels that are no longer needed by the National Defense reserve fleet, which are sold to companies that dismantle the ships so that the steel can be repurposed, sometimes for the construction of new ships, according to a Department of Transportation spokesperson. Unlike other recycling operations, the dismantling of ships from the National Defense Reserve Fleet must take place in the United States. According to the DOT spokesperson, the city of Brownsville, Texas, has become somewhat of a hub of ship dismantling.
MMA president William Brennan said in an email that he was “extremely pleased that the Maritime Administration has made this distribution.”
“It’s a demonstration of the foresight of acting maritime administrator Paul ‘Chip’ Jaenichen, who recognizes the importance of the state maritime academies to the future of maritime education,” he said.
Rep. Mike Michaud also was pleased with the donation.
“The academy produces some of the best mariners in the world, and it is conducting cutting-edge research that will benefit Maine’s economy as a whole,” he said in a prepared statement.
It’s not the first time MMA has received money from this program, though the amount and timing of the donation is unpredictable.
In 2012, MMA received $400,000 in October and $500,000 in May from this program.
After the October donation, Brennan told the Bangor Daily News, “We look at it as proceeds that come through the institution as any other gift that a foundation or philanthropic entity might provide.”
The rest of the funds from the sale of obsolete ships goes to the National Park Service and the National Defense Reserve Fleet.