Cadets Return to Buzzards Bay as Sea Term Concludes

BUZZARDS BAY – The training vessel Kennedy returned to Buzzards Bay Sunday concluding Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s annual Sea Term.

Nearly 600 cadets spent almost 2 months on the voyage, which allows students to put into practice what they have been learning at the academy.

During the trip cadets rotated through class and laboratory training, handled ship operations and performed maintenance and emergency drills.

Commodore Brad Lima, who was onboard for part of the trip, said the experience is an important part of the curriculum as cadets work a 24/7 schedule and learn to be responsible shipmates.

“The Sea Term tests a person’s character in a way that you can’t duplicate on shore,” Lima said.

The voyage also prepares the cadets in a way which makes them desirable to employers.

“When you are working in a close environment like that you build life long relationships and memories that years from now when those students get back together will relive those memories and probably embellish them over time,” Lima said.

Early on during Sea Term the cadets participated in a humanitarian aid drop in Haiti.

“The Haitian relief effort was a major high point,” Lima said.

Massachusetts Maritime Academy has had a relationship with Haiti over the last decade which allows the students to make another stop to drop off the aid.

“We want to continue that relationship,” Lima said.

Another highlight of the trip for the students was getting to play soccer with the Columbian Naval Academy in Cartagena.

Students were able to witness the devastation from the fall hurricanes on St. Thomas.

“There were a lot of roofs with blue tarps,” he said. “Most of the hotels are still not in service, but the impact of the hurricanes in St. Thomas and St. John’s are still very high for the islands.”

Other stops included Barbados and Tampa.

Although the students are returning to class March 5, the T.S. Kennedy will remain busy.

Some students will be sailing the vessel to the shipyard Wednesday before it heads to Texas on loan for the Texas Maritime Academy’s Sea Term.

“The days of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday will be very, very busy with the offload of gear all belonging to Mass Maritime that’s got to be removed before the ship goes to shipyard,” Lima said.

Lima said for senior students, this is the beginning of the end.

“The next four months they will be preparing for their Coast Guard examinations,” he said.

The exams, which take four days, test the students on their skill sets and knowledge of everything they have learned over the last four years.

“What make a maritime education particularly unique is that passing the U.S. Coast Guard exam is a criteria that must be satisfied in order to graduate,” Lima said. “So there will be some big challenges ahead for seniors.”


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