Mass. Maritime Vessel Being Diverted From Harvey Relief to Hurricane-Ravaged Caribbean

BUZZARDS BAY – The Massachusetts Maritime Academy training vessel T/S Kennedy is being diverted from Texas, where it was assisting in Hurricane Harvey relief, to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to help in recovery efforts from Hurricanes Irma and the approaching Maria.

The ship left Buzzards Bay on September 6 for the Gulf of Mexico. It made a brief stop in Virginia while Irma moved into the Southeast United States.

School spokesman Chris Ryan said they were notified Tuesday that the Kennedy would depart Texas on Wednesday and head for the Caribbean. The exact mission is not known as this time.

While in Texas, the ship has been used to house FEMA workers helping those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

A dozen academy staff members are on board the vessel for a 30-day deployment with an option for an additional 30 days.

“We have a bunch of cadets who are interested [in going] but this happens to be the start of the semester and they are just not in a position to lose that time right now in those kind of chunks,” said Rear Admiral Francis McDonald, the academy’s president, before their departure earlier this month.

The federal government loans training ships to nautical academies as long as they can be used in times of national emergencies.

McDonald previously said it is still too soon to know if the current deployment would have any effect on the academy’s annual sea term in January. McDonald expressed to the Maritime Administrator the school was willing to be without the vessel until December.

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