The next Maine Maritime Academy training vessel will have a homeport of Castine. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

State of Maine to keep its Castine homeport  



CASTINE — In what U.S. Sen Susan Collins termed “a victory for common sense,” the State of Maine’s homeport will be in the state of Maine. Castine, specifically.  

The State of Maine is the training vessel for Maine Maritime Academy. The current ship is aging and slated for replacement. Congress in 2019 approved $300 million for the acquisition of a new training vessel, which is expected to arrive in fall 2024. 

The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) initially proposed labeling all new training vessels bound for state maritime academies as hailing from Norfolk, Va. The stern of MMA’s current training vessel designates its home port as Castine. Anxious for that tradition to continue, MMA officials reached out to Collins, the ranking member of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. 

“The State of Maine training vessel is a great source of pride for Maine Maritime Academy and for the students and instructors who serve as the ship’s crew,” Collins said. “MMA’s training vessels have always borne the home port of Castine, Maine, on their sterns, carrying Maine’s rich maritime heritage to ports around the world. MARAD’s initial plan to designate the State of Maine’s home port in Virginia not only defied logic, but it was also a disservice to MMA’s exceptional instruction of generations of sailors in our state. MARAD’s decision to change tack and adhere to its historical precedent is a victory for common sense and home state pride.” 

“Maine Maritime Academy extends its sincerest gratitude to Senator Collins for her leadership on this matter, which has ensured the continuation of the pride that we have had for 80 years here in Castine as our home port,” said MMA President Jerry Paul.  

The State of Maine is used to provide rigorous, hands-on instruction for students pursuing careers in the maritime industry, Navy and Coast Guard. This past April, the ship departed for a spring training cruise with ports of call in Charleston, S.C.; Bermuda; Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal; Reykjavik, Iceland, and Portland, Maine.  

The 500-foot, 16,000-ton training ship was originally commissioned as the USNS Tanner. It served as a Navy oceanographic research vessel before being converted in 1997 for use by the college. It is the fourth vessel to bear the name State of Maine. 

Its replacement is one of six vessels being built as part of the Maritime Administration’s National Security Multi-mission Vessel (NSMV) development program. 

This new class of vessels is designed specifically for training purposes, according to MMA, with eight classrooms, a full training bridge, lab spaces and an auditorium. The ship also will be designed to respond to national disasters. Plans call for the ship to berth up to 1,000 people in times of humanitarian need. It will have two separate engine rooms for engine training as well as roll-on/roll-off capability and container storage, medical facilities and a helicopter landing pad. 

 

Cyndi Wood

Cyndi Wood

Managing Editor
Cyndi is managing editor of The Ellsworth American. The Ellsworth native joined the staff of The American in 2007 as a reporter.
Cyndi Wood

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