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MMA Students and Faculty Participate in Keel Laying Ceremony for New Training Ship State of Maine

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Maine Maritime Academy (MMA), one of the United States’ foremost maritime universities offering degrees in engineering, science, management, and transportation, this week celebrated the first significant milestone in the life of the ship that will ultimately become the Academy’s new training vessel. The keel laying ceremony was held at the Philadelphia Shipyard for the Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) National Security Multi-mission Vessel (NSMV) III, which will be delivered to Maine Maritime Academy in the fall of 2024. The NSMVs are designed to provide world-class training for future U.S. mariners and to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in times of need. The NSMV III will replace the current training vessel, the Training Ship State of Maine (TSSOM), which has served the academy since 1997. The new vessel will also be named State of Maine, the fifth Maine Maritime Academy training ship to bear this proud name and will continue the tradition of having Castine, Maine as home port.

NSMV III to be delivered to Maine Maritime Academy in the fall of 2024

“A Keel laying is one of the most symbolic events in the construction of a new vessel, soliciting good luck during her construction and for her passengers and crew on future journeys,” said Maine Maritime Academy President Jerry Paul, who attended the ceremony. “It is fitting and a wonderful moment for Maine Maritime Academy that we are joined today by the cadets who will sail on her first training voyage in the summer of 2025. This is an important milestone in the life of the ship that will soon be calling Castine its homeport. We are grateful for the continued support of our Maine delegation, specifically Senator Susan Collins, and the town leadership in Castine.”

The current TSSOM is on a training voyage of more than two months, giving 212 students critical seagoing experience taking them to eight domestic and foreign ports of call. The TSSOM was able to make Philadelphia one of the ports of call to coincide with the keel laying ceremony.

While serving as Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, US Senator Susan Collins championed the funding for a new fleet of State Maritime Academy training vessels – including the State of Maine. “Maine Maritime Academy provides an exceptional education that fully prepares students to excel in the maritime industry, Navy, and Coast Guard,” said Senator Collins. “This new ship will help provide rigorous instruction and crucial maritime training for MMA students for years to come.”

“Training Voyages aboard State of Maine are amazing experiences for our cadets.  The learning opportunities provided by living and working aboard a ship for several weeks at a time are the experiences that make a Maine Maritime Academy education special. This new ship will make those experiences even more special.”  said Captain Gordon “Mac” MacArthur, Master of State of Maine. “We included this port call in Philadelphia on this year’s itinerary to provide an opportunity for our students, faculty, and crew to see the future of at-sea education and to make an in-person comparison between the current and the future training ships. The first few blocks of the new State of Maine have been laid and many of the cadets who visited the shipyard today will sail aboard this amazing new ship.”

In addition to students and faculty, dignitaries were also on hand, including Castine Selectboard member, Roberta Boczkiewicz.

“Castine’s rich maritime history that began with the indigenous peoples and continues today is known across the world, and our partnership with Maine Maritime Academy only serves to enrich the fabric of our community,” said Boczkiewicz. “Having the Training Ship State of Maine docked in our harbor for most of the year is a constant reminder of that history and our community’s role in training students for their future. I am thrilled to join these young men and women as they celebrate a new vessel that will soon be calling Castine home.”

The NSMV III is one of five vessels being built as part of the Maritime Administration’s NSMV development program. Congress appropriated funding to replace aging training vessels with NSMVs at five institutions, including SUNY Maritime College, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Texas A&M Maritime Academy and California State University Maritime, in addition to Maine Maritime Academy.

The NSMV is a new class of vessels designed specifically for training purposes, with eight classrooms, a full training bridge, lab spaces and an auditorium. The vessel will also be designed to respond to national disasters, as the TSSOM did in response to Hurricane Katrina. The ship includes two separate engine rooms, providing significant spaces for engine training. Plans call for the ship to berth up to 1,000 people in times of humanitarian need. It will have roll-on/roll-off capability and container storage, full hospital facilities, and a helicopter landing pad.

The current TSSOM voyage consists of eight domestic and foreign ports of call on the journey. The vessel has already stopped in New York, NY and Philadelphia, PA. The remainder of the itinerary includes stops in Ponta Delgada, Azores; Vigo, Spain; Kiel, Germany; Belfast, Northern Ireland; and Boston, MA before returning to Castine on July 19.

Those wishing to follow the progress of the 2023 TSSOM journey can do so by visiting the cruise blog at cruise.mainemaritime.edu.

About Maine Maritime Academy

Maine Maritime Academy is a co-educational, public college on the coast of Maine offering 22 programs of study in engineering, management, science, and transportation to promote the maritime interests of the United States. The college serves approximately 950 undergraduate and graduate students in career-oriented degree programs. The job placement rate for MMA graduates is approximately 90 percent within 90 days of graduation with very high paying jobs.

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. The 2022 Report by Georgetown University ranked MMA #1 among all public colleges for return on investment for low-income students at public bachelor’s degree institutions. For more information, visit mainemaritime.edu.

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