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SUNY Maritime training ship sails to Puerto Rico

Written by Marine Log Staff
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File photo of the training ship Empire State VI returning from Summer Sea Term this past August

SEPTEMBER 29, 2017—SUNY Maritime College’s Training Ship Empire State VI will set sail today for Puerto Rico to aid in the recovery efforts and to deliver basic necessities to the island’s residents.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) activated the vessel for a pre-scripted Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mission to support relief efforts. Once moored on site, the self-contained vessel will support recovery efforts by providing housing, power, food and water to first responders.

The 565 ft ship, which is used by the college to train and educate SUNY Maritime cadets looking to pursue a career in commercial shipping, can be activated by the government in times of natural disaster. The ship was activated in 2005 for Hurricane Katrina and 2011 for Superstorm Sandy. It is capable of housing 650

 Prior to the ship’s departure from Key West, FL, a donation drive was organized by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico. The effort has brought together a wide range of civic, business and industry partners to provide needed services, goods and funds to help the people of Puerto Rico recover and rebuild, and provide opportunities for New Yorkers to contribute to the relief efforts. As part of this effort, supply drop-off locations have been established in around the state.

The Governor said that more than 60 pallets of supplies have been collected statewide that include items ranging from food and water, to personal hygiene items, to flashlights and batteries. This initial shipment to Puerto Rico consists of 22 pallets of donated goods from the drop-off locations at the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan and Citi Field in Queens, as well as from the New York State stockpile at JFK Airport. It includes: More than 22,000 half-liter bottles of water and 288 gallon containers of water, 2,000 canned food items, feminine products,  baby wipes and diapers, disinfectant wipes, batteries, flashlights, first aid kits and personal hygiene items.

The majority of the items are being transported to port in Key West, FL on trucks supplied by the NY State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. Once in Key West, the supplies will be transferred to the Empire State VI. Supplies will also be transported on a flight donated by JetBlue.

“After seeing firsthand the unimaginable devastation in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, I am proud that New Yorkers are stepping up to the plate to support our brothers and sisters in need,” Governor Cuomo said. Governor Cuomo added that “Puerto Rico faces a long and difficult road to recovery, but New York will walk that road with them every step of the way.”

slideCuomoIn response to Puerto Rico Governor Riccardo Rosselló’s request on Sept. 21, Governor Cuomo immediately made available more than 34,000 bottles of water, 9,600 ready to eat meals, 3,000 canned goods, 500 flashlights, 1,400 cots, 1,400 blankets, 1,400 pillows and 10 10kw generators. Additionally, Governor Cuomo announced that 60 members of the New York Army National Guard, four Black Hawk helicopters and 50 State Police are on standby. Since that initial request, the Governor has also committed additional State Police, 120 Military Police, 125 engineers from the NYS National Guard, and 30 personnel from the NYS Department of Transportation.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing the state’s efforts to support emergency assistance to Puerto Rico, following the devastation of Hurricane Maria

Rear Adm. Michael Alfultis, President of SUNY Maritime, said the devastation in Puerto Rico is similar to what happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. “With such extensive damage from Hurricane Maria, I am proud that New York and the Maritime College are able to provide such vital assistance. The hurricanes that have wrought devastation on our country these past few weeks have shown the vital purpose the nation’s fleet of training ships provide for disaster response, and underline the importance of finding suitable replacements for them.” 

The FEMA requested the use of three of the nation’s training ships from MARAD on September 1 in response to Hurricane Harvey. The Empire State’s original mission was changed from Texas to Key West, in the wake of Hurricane Irma. The Kennedy, the training ship used by Massachusetts Maritime Academy, was activated and sent to Texas. It is now en route to Puerto Rico.

Before the Empire State VI left its homeport at SUNY Maritime in Throggs Neck, NY, it was loaded with 24 pallets of bottled water and food to distribute to those in need. The drive, organized by the State University of New York, collected more than $30,000 for the SUNY Strong fund, which purchased the items.


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