Three generations meet aboard Maritime Academy training vessel

From Panama Canal to Persian Gulf, and ports worldwide
By Susan Mustapich | Jul 24, 2019
Photo by: Susan Mustapich Chris Haines, Maine Maritime Academy 1991, Kristian Kibler, MMA 2022, and Roger Haines, MMA 1966, recently shared a rare three-generation sail on the academy's Training Ship State of Maine.

CAMDEN — This July, Maine Maritime Academy alums Roger Haines, and his son Chris shared a rare sail together on the academy's training ship with Roger's grandson and Chris's nephew Kristian Kibler, who is a freshman at MMA.

So far, the three are only the second family with three generations in the history of Maine Maritime Academy, which was created by an act of the Maine Legislature in 1941.

Kristian is from Lincolnville and Camden, and graduated from Camden Hills Regional High School. Roger, who now has a home in Camden, Chris, and Kristian's mother, Tanya, are originally from Rangeley.

The story of the three generations sailing together begins with 18-year old Kristian's 73-day training cruise this summer to five different ports in the countries of Spain, England, Estonia and Norway.

On day 35 of the cruise on training ship State of Maine, Kristian was walking on the lunch line, when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He was very surprised to see his uncle Chris standing beside him.

"I had no idea. No one knew he was coming," Kristian said.

"Roger didn't even know," Chris said. "The only one who knew was my wife."

Chris got a job on the ship as a watch officer and boarded at the port in England, just to get a chance to sail with Kristian.

While Chris grew up on boats with his father, who was canal operations captain for the Panama Canal in the 1990s, he never had a chance to sail with Roger as a Merchant Marine.

"So, I wanted to be able to sail with Kristian. I wanted a chance to go out and experience a few things with him," he said.

As a consequence of Chris's surprise for Kristian, the academy invited Roger to come aboard when the training crew arrived back in Searsport, and to sail from there to Castine with his son and grandson.

Chris pointed out there have only been two three-generation families at MMA, and Roger said that is because the school is so young.

Roger graduated in 1966, the academy's 25th year, Chris graduated in 1991, the academy's 50th year. Kristian belongs to the graduating class of 2022.

There are a lot of second-generation MMA graduates, making it certain "there will be other third-generation" families in the future, Chris said.

You could also say that the story of the three-generation cruise began when Roger decided to go to Maine Maritime Academy.

Roger was born and raised in Rangeley and had never even seen the ocean. He heard about Maine Maritime Academy from a friend who was thinking about going there, he said.

"In our junior year, I rode along with him and got to see the ocean, and decided to apply there too. I got in and he didn't,” Roger said. His friend did not pass the color vision requirement, which requires the ability to distinguish the colors of red, blue, yellow and green.

After the academy, Roger went into commercial shipping and eventually got his unlimited master's license for deep sea ships. He would go to sea for a year at a time, he said, and his family saw very little of him. Chris would write him letters or send him a recording.

When Chris was 7 years old, Roger got a job on the Panama Canal, and took the family with him. The year was 1976. He became a senior pilot, and went on to become senior port captain of the Panama Canal in 1987. In 1991, he was appointed canal operations captain, and oversaw the canal's daily operations. Roger got an early retirement in 1997, as the United States was in the process of turning the canal back to Panama at the turn of the century.

Chris talked about moving from Rangeley to Panama, when he explained why he went to MMA. "As soon as I got down there, you're around water," he said. "You've got two oceans, and I was around ships my whole upbringing."

Roger took him "on the Love Boat and the Queen Elizabeth and all kinds of cool ships. From the time I was a little kid, I was around ships." He also talked about growing up surfing.

During summers, the family would go to Maine. Sometimes Roger would take him to Maine Maritime to visit and show him where he went to school, Chris said. Among his friends in Panama, going to a maritime academy was "the thing to do," he said. "We all went off to different maritime academies."

Chris went to MMA in 1987, choosing the career path to become an engineer. While sailing with Kristian, his nephew's classmates were picking his brain about what their course should be once they graduate." I said, 'See the world,' because that's what I did.

“I've been on somewhere around 38 different ships, vessels. Anything from a tug and barge unit to a 1,000-foot container ship, I've been on it,” he said. “I've gone all around the world, and I've seen a lot of cool things."

Among his favorite places are Pompeii, Singapore, riding on a camel at the pyramids in Egypt with long hair and wearing a leather biker jacket, and out in the South Pacific “bumming around some of those little islands out there."

One of the things he likes most, "is being able to say I've gone to certain places and having a picture. Having an actual picture of you being there, nothing replaces that," he said.

“Probably my proudest moment was when I was involved in the second Gulf War,” Chris said. During President George W. Bush's "Shock and Awe" campaign and the bombing of Baghdad, he was on a ship in the Persian Gulf.

“I was on the ammo ship that brought the bombs over for that mission. We loaded up at the naval weapons station and were tied up for about four months, November 2002 to April 2003, on the Iraq/Kuwait border.

“That's one part of being a merchant marine that I'm proud of, is you assist the military, in peace and wartime,” he said.

Kristian is 18 years old and has just finished his freshman year. When asked why he chose to go Maine Maritime Academy he said, “It never went though my mind to go anywhere else. Ever since I was young, it's been something I've been meant to do,” he said.

His grandfather “had boats, a yacht and a sailboat, and he kind of showed me all the basics.”

On July 13, Kristian had just finished his 73-day training cruise. He doesn't have much time on land, because he has been hired for paid watches on the ship. “Why not?” he said, “I need a job.”

Kristian credits his grandfather and uncle as his role models, and for his getting into the academy. Chris said Roger is responsible for his and Kristian's work ethic. In talking about his accomplishments, Roger said, “I was a captain in the Merchant Marine. After that, my biggest success is these two guys.”

Chris mentioned the sailor depicted on the Maine state flag. “Our legacy is to build ships and go to sea. It's our heritage,” he said.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jul 24, 2019 14:17

This is a truly wonderful story of family and service!

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