Midcoast residents with an eye toward the bay Tuesday evening, May 3 caught a glimpse of the Maine Maritime Academy training ship State of Maine as it set out on its annual two-month training cruise.

The State of Maine’s 2011 cruise, under the command of Capt. Leslie B. Eadie III of Brewer, began April 29 with an all hands muster and a series of drills to prepare the crew for the voyage ahead.

The academy held its 68th commencement exercises April 30, with many State of Maine crewmembers participating as ushers, security guards, traffic control support and a color guard for the event. More drills were held on board the following day, as ship’s engineers conducted final tests on the main engine.

“Day four [May 2] has been pretty hectic for all hands as the final preparations are being made for our departure in the morning,” a blog entry at the Maine Maritime Academy Cruise 2011 website stated. The day began with the arrival of three truckloads of frozen stores at around 6:30 a.m., a process that continued through mid-afternoon and involved many students in the deck maintenance section to run the crane operation, drive the forklift and handle pallets, while members of the utility section stored the boxes below.

More drills punctuated the day, and all personnel were on board the vessel by 10 p.m. to be ready for a 5:30 a.m. all hands muster the following morning.

At 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 3, the gangway was removed, and State of Maine was underway within a half-hour. Many parents and friends were on hand to see the crew off.

Once underway, the crew began testing safety equipment under the watchful eye of Coast Guard Sector Northern New England who also ran a fire and emergency drill followed by an abandon ship drill, the last of the certificate of inspection items required by the Coast Guard before State of Maine would head to sea.

By late afternoon, State of Maine was heading south in the western Penobscot Channel making roughly 13 knots.

The following local residents are currently training aboard State of Maine:

  • Paul Campbell, Scott Entwistle and Jonathan Payne of Camden.
  • Douglas Blasius of Friendship.
  • Matthew Mercier of Lincolnville.
  • Ian Hopkins of North Haven.
  • David Ernst, Kyle McLaughlin and Dylan Meklin of Rockland.
  • Mitchell Tucker, William Grace and Joshua Harjula of South Thomaston.
  • Dana Tolman of Vinalhaven.
  • Jonathan Storer and Thomas Morrison of Waldoboro.

During the two-month cruise, State of Maine will visit Norfolk, Va; the Mediterranean ports of Valetta, Malta and Civitavecchia, Italy; Cobh, Ireland; and Portland before hosting a family day sail on the return leg from Portland to Castine.

According to the website at mma.edu, “Students pursuing an officer’s license from the U.S. Coast Guard as a third mate or third assistant engineer are required to train at sea for at least 60 days in each of their first three years at the Academy. Freshmen and juniors sail aboard the MMA vessel, while sophomores are assigned to merchant ships worldwide.”

Recent training cruises have taken students to Aruba, Bermuda, Brazil, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Russia, and Spain, as well as other European and Caribbean countries.

“The 500-foot, 16,000-ton training ship State of Maine, the former U.S. Navy ship Tanner, originally served as a Navy oceanographic research vessel and was converted in 1997 to accommodate the training needs of the college,” the website states. “The fourth vessel to bear the name State of Maine, the ship is a modern, technologically advanced training vessel.”

Founded in 1941, Maine Maritime Academy enrolls more than 900 students from 35 states and several foreign countries. The college awards associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 15 fields of study.

To follow the State of Maine’s blog and see photographs of the cruise, visit the website at cruise.mainemaritime.edu.

The Herald Gazette Reporter Shlomit Auciello can be reached at 207-236-8511 or by e-mail at sauciello@villagesoup.com.