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Texas A&M Maritime Academy welcomes training ship TS Kennedy

Written by Nick Blenkey
Training ship Kennedy arrives in Galveston

TS Kennedy expands the Texas A&M Maritime Academy’s ability to provide highly trained and professional U.S. Coast Guard-licensed deck and engine officers

The Texas A&M Maritime Academy on the Galveston Campus of Texas A&M University is set to receive a brand new National Security Multi-Mission Vessel (NSMV) training ship in 2025. Meantime, the academy has received a not-quite-so-new training ship. That ship, the TS Kennedy, is a 540-foot vessel that will enhance year-round training for cadets in ship navigation and marine engineering systems, maintenance, safety and security.

Underscoring the need for the new NSMVs, like the rest of the MARAD training ship fleet, the TS Kennedy is getting on in years. It was completed and launched at Avondale Shipyards, New Orleans in 1967 and delivered to Lykes Brothers Steamship Co. that year as SS Velma Lykes for Far East operations.

Nonetheless, the 56 year old vessel’s arrival at the Galveston campus is very welcome.

“We have dreamed of having this capacity for over a decade and are extremely grateful to the Department of Transportation, MARAD, university administration and elected officials for helping us get here,” said Col. Michael E. Fossum, vice president of Texas A&M University, chief operating officer of the Galveston Campus and superintendent of the Texas A&M Maritime Academy. “A large training ship that accommodates our entire maritime academy will allow us to meet industry demand for highly skilled mariners and maritime professionals and support the blue economy on the Gulf Coast.”

State maritime academy training ships are federally owned vessels operated by the six state maritime academies to serve cadet-training purposes. Successful legislative efforts in Washington, D.C. secured the transfer of the TS Kennedy from Massachusetts Maritime Academy this year, with the new, state-of-the-art NSMV, Lone Star State, arriving in 2025. These ships have 12 times the capacity of the maritime academy’s former training ship, the TS General Rudder. While ship-sharing agreements with other state maritime academies have been in place for several years, the campus has not been assigned a training ship that would fully accommodate mariner training needs for the past 18 years.

The larger TS Kennedy expands the Texas A&M Maritime Academy’s ability to provide highly trained and professional U.S. Coast Guard-licensed deck and engine officers to serve on oceangoing and inland waterway vessels and commission officers to the Navy.

“Over 90% of everything you eat, wear or use travels through our nation’s ports and inland waterways,” said Fossum. “Our programs educate and train the next generation of mariners and maritime professionals to ensure our state and nation’s economic prosperity and security remains strong.”

Each summer, cadets embark on a summer sea term onboard the ship to receive at-sea training that often takes them to international locations. This year, cadets will sail from Galveston to Curacao, Georgia, Puerto Rico and Louisiana before returning to campus in August.

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