CASTINE — The Training Ship State of Maine will depart Castine on Tuesday, Nov. 16 for the third training cruise of the year. Winter cruises were once commonplace at Maine Maritime Academy. However, over time, the college’s training evolutions were condensed to allow for a single summer voyage to locations in North America, the Caribbean, and Europe. Recent disruptions caused by the pandemic required a reimagination of cadets’ training schedules. The upcoming cruise will be the third this calendar year. Two additional cruises were completed over the course of the spring and summer and collectively allowed most unlimited license students to recapture training and sea time lost in 2020.

“The advent of the COVID pandemic essentially caused three class years to miss their respective summer sea experiences in 2020. Adjustments to the academic calendar, three cruises and two cadet shipping evolutions allowed Maine Maritime to recapture that lost summer. The unique schedule is only possible due to the dedication of the ship’s professional crew, MMA’s faculty, staff, and the students who adapted to compressed schedules, significantly increased sea time, and disruptions to their lives to get us back on track,” says John Cashman, commandant of Midshipmen. “We are excited to wrap up this final cruise of 2021 and for the opportunities it brings for our students to complete their training and earn their degrees and licenses.”

On Tuesday, 146 MMA students along with 50 faculty and crew set sail for their first stop in Charleston, South Carolina. They will be joined by 30 cadets and staff from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. The trip’s itinerary includes a transit through the Caribbean with additional port calls in the US Virgin Islands and Florida before returning to Maine in December.

Under the direction of Capt. Gordon MacArthur, master of the vessel, the educational cruise will include opportunities for students to put into practice what they have learned in the classroom in this unique shipboard environment. For some this is the second half of their first sea term. For others it is the final sea-going experience of their Maine Maritime education. For the visiting Cadets from USMMA, this will be their first sea-going experience, one we hope will be meaningful and fun.

The 500-foot, 16,000-ton Training Ship State of Maine, was originally commissioned as the USNS Tanner and served as a Navy oceanographic research vessel before being converted in 1997 to accommodate MMA’s training needs. The fourth vessel to bear the name State of Maine, the ship is a modern, technologically advanced training vessel. “Students will perform at sea navigation and engine room watches, perform routine and non-routine maintenance on various equipment and receive training on various topics from meteorology to hydraulics to basic use of hand tools,” explains MacArthur. “The opportunity for college students to apply classroom learning and develop skills such as leadership, industrial safety and job planning is what sets us apart from other institutions of higher learning.

Well-wishers are welcomed and encouraged to view the vessel departure from the Maine Maritime Academy waterfront or via livestream at mainemaritime.edu/streaming. Friends, family, and fans are invited to follow the ship’s journey through the cruise blog at cruise.mainemaritime.edu. The ship is scheduled to return to Castine on Dec. 19. The training cruise officially ends on the afternoon of Dec. 21.

Maine Maritime Academy is a co-educational, public college on the coast of Maine offering programs of study in engineering, management, science, and transportation. The college serves approximately 950 undergraduate and graduate students in career-oriented degree programs. The annual job placement rate for MMA graduates is approximately 90 percent within 90 days of graduation. The college is consistently recognized for providing a high-value education by organizations such as the Brookings Institution, U.S. News and World Report, and Money Magazine. For more information, please visit mainemaritime.edu.