CASTINE — The Maine Maritime Academy training ship State of Maine sailed from Castine Saturday morning carrying some 210 students and crew on a two-week training cruise to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
With Captain Leslie B. Eadie III in command, the ship is scheduled to arrive in St. Croix on Jan. 8 and return to Castine on Jan. 16 after a three-day port stay.
Students and crew boarded the State of Maine last Wednesday, Dec. 30, for pre-sailing preparation. Training activities will continue in port through Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Eadie, a 1976 MMA graduate, assumed command of the training ship in 2011.
The current winter cruise — the second for the State of Maine — was is a response to an increase in sea time and instruction required by the international Standards for Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for students entering MMA and other maritime academies starting with of the admission of the Class of 2017.
To meet those requirements, the annual summer cruise has been lengthened to 90 days. During transition period, 15-day winter cruises were scheduled for second class students (members of the junior class) in January 2015 as well as this year to ensure that those students could satisfy their sea-time requirements.
Students pursuing a Merchant Marine officer’s license from the U.S. Coast Guard as a third mate or third assistant engineer are now required to train at sea for at least 300 days during their first three years at the academy. Freshmen and juniors sail aboard the MMA training ship, while sophomores are assigned to merchant ships worldwide.
In past years, MMA training cruises have taken students to Aruba, Bermuda, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Malta, Poland, Puerto Rico and Russia, as well as other European and Caribbean countries.