A bill that would appropriate $300 million for a new training vessel for Maine Maritime Academy has made it out of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Maine Sen. Susan Collins said Thursday.
The $300 million for the new training ship at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, included in a funding bill Collins authored, passed the committee in a unanimous, 31-0 vote. It must get full congressional approval and the president’s signature before it becomes law.
The money would fund a replacement for the aging training vessel State of Maine, which launched in 1990 and is due to be replaced by a new vessel in eight to 10 years to give Maine Maritime students a more modern platform from which to learn about seafaring. Close to 300 students, faculty and staff take an annual voyage on the vessel, leaving from the academy’s Castine campus and visiting several overseas ports.
A tradition since the academy was created in 1941, the cruise allows cadets to learn the rigors of their profession in something like real-life conditions.
Over the past two years, the federal government has approved spending $300 million each to replace two training vessels at other maritime academies — the State University of New York Maritime College and Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
Maine is next on the list of ships to be replaced, federal officials have said, as State of Maine is the third oldest ship in the U.S. Maritime Administration’s six-ship training fleet, behind the ships used in New York and Massachusetts.
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