A floating classroom with 270 students from Texas A&M Maritime Academy calls on St. Thomas for a hands-on summer training program at sea.
“It’s a life changing experience for these students as they discover what it’s like to live and work at sea,” Michael Fossum, COO of Texas A&M University in Galveston said Monday. .
The students are aboard the Kennedy Training Ship, which is at the West Indian Co. dock until Wednesday and is a former commercial freighter and current United States Marine Service training ship, according to Texas A&M.
âThey’re out there on the ship, working normal shifts for the sailors, 24 hours a dayâ¦ On the deck, in the engine room on the deck, and so they’re really tying it all together. “Said Fossum.
On board, students travel the world to gain certifications and vital practical experience in ship operations, port traffic management, and other crucial maritime skills.
Students take three cruises during their time at the university, according to Matthew Kane, associate professor of marine engineering technology education.
“Those who sail now are trying to get their US Coast Guard license, which allows them to either get their third officer license or their third assistant engineer license after graduation. So they’ll get that. as well as the college degree, âKane said.
âWhen they graduate they will be officers on ships,â said Fossum. âWe really focus on leadership development in addition to technical skills, operational skills. â¦ It is to help prepare them to be leaders from the day they board a ship.
In the past, the academy has offered tours during its days at the port, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, the public is not allowed on the ship this year.
“I hope that in the years to come we can come back here and offer a chance for young people who are exploring career ideas to get them on a ship,” said Fossum. âThere is a huge demand for marine engineers, a huge demand both on the water side and on the shore. “
The ship arrived in St. Thomas from Galveston, Texas on Saturday. On Wednesday the ship will return to Galveston before sailing to Cape Cod where it will return to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, Mass.
To learn more about the Texas A&M Maritime Academy, visit www.tamug.edu.