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Final Training Cruise After 27 Years for T/S State of Maine

State of Maine training ship
Training ship departed her Castine dock and the campus for the final time this week (Maine Maritime Academy)

Published May 10, 2024 8:58 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

Maine Maritime Academy's training ship State of Maine is marking the end of her 27 years in Castine, Maine, and 30 training voyages for future merchant mariners. Unfortunately, it has been a bit of an ignominious start to the end of her career, soon to be replaced by the third of the new National Security Multi-Mission Vessels (NSMV) which will bear the same name.

The final trip kicked off on Wednesday, May 8 with great fanfare. There were addresses by the leadership of the academy and local elected officials, as families, friends, and residents turned out to wave farewell to the cadets as the voyage began and a familiar site on the waterfront departed for the last time. The academy live-streamed the sendoff with people holding signs and tossing streamers as well as a siren and hose salute from the Castine Fire Department.

The ship moved away from Castine and as planned anchored near Searsport for what were the planned final drills before the 74-day voyage. She was scheduled to first bunker in New York and then circle the Atlantic with stops in Florida, St. Thomas, Santa Cruz De Tenerife, Palma de Mallorca, Oporto, and Newfoundland before returning to Maine. 

The U.S. Coast Guard was supervising lifeboat tests with crews including 10 midshipmen per lifeboat. The launch and sailing of boat #2 went as planned, but according to a midshipman’s account on the blog, lifeboat #4 malfunctioned during the lowering process. No one was injured but in a social media posting the academy says the repair requires technical assistance. The ship has remained at anchor while they are evaluating the problem with the U.S. Coast Guard and making repairs. They hope to get underway soon.

The 202 midshipmen were split into four teams for the voyage and spent the days before the departure storing the vessel and conducting fire and abandon ship drills. They were also undertaking maintenance of the vessel. She also has 25 faculty and 20 crewmembers aboard for the trip.

 

A familiar sight on the waterfront for 27 years (Maine Maritime FB/Twitter)

 

Built in 1990 at the famed Bethlehem Steel Sparrows Point yard in Baltimore, she was originally the USNS Tanner, an oceanographic research vessel for the U.S. Navy. She however suffered an engine casualty in 1993 that ended her short career and was later transferred to the Maritime Administration. 

Rebuilt in 1996, they removed the research equipment and replaced two of the original engines as well as converting her to become a training ship. Accommodations were expanded from 108 to 302 and lifesaving and other systems were upgraded. She arrived in Maine in June 1997 and the following week departed for her first training voyage.

According to the reports, she is required to have all four of her lifeboats operational, providing a total capacity for 320 people, although there are only 248 aboard. The academy said it would provide more information as it becomes available. 

At the end of this trip in late July she will go to Portland instead of returning to her home in Castine. There she will officially be returned to MARAD which reports she will go into the Ready Reserve Force. 

Construction of the new State of Maine is well underway. She was floated out earlier this year. She is now in the outfitting dock with delivery scheduled for 2025.