MMA Another Step Closer to Securing Funding for New Training Vessel

BUZZARDS BAY – The Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay is now one step closer to securing funding for a new training vessel to replace the T.S. Kennedy.

The $1.3 trillion federal spending bill signed last week by President Trump included $300 million for the replacement of training ships for maritime Schools.

The first ship to be replaced will be the T.S. Empire State VI of the State University of New York Maritime College, putting the 51-year-old Kennedy next in line for replacement.

Another $300 million for the Maritime Administration is also included in Trump’s proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget, which would be used to replace the Kennedy – if approved by Congress.

MMA President Admiral Francis McDonald says the opportunity for a new training vessel would be a huge advantage for the school’s cadets.

“Instead of training tomorrow’s mariners on a generation-ago technology, you now have the opportunity to build the right type of training environment for our mariners,” McDonald said.

MacDonald said another benefit of a new vessel would be to build in particular response capabilities on the vessel to assist with federal hurricane relief or national emergencies.

The training vessels are federally owned and loaned out to the maritime schools, but can be recalled by Homeland Security if needed.

The Kennedy was used to provide humanitarian aid after major hurricanes devastated Texas and Puerto Rico.

McDonald said securing funding in the FY19 federal budget is critical for the academy to get a new vessel.

“There’s a lot of work that will be happening on Capitol Hill over the next several months, both on the House side and the Senate side, as they begin to shape the ‘19 budget given what the president has put out as priorities,” McDonald said.

McDonald said it is not a surprise to him that the federal government is spending this amount of money to produce civilian mariners.

“What a lot of folks don’t know is that anytime the United States is involved with anything abroad – a projection of force in support of the U.S. Navy or any Department of Defense work – there is a large fleet of vessel run by civilian mariners who move all of the supplies,” McDonald said. “That goes back to World War II and as recently as Gulf War I, or even with what you see as events happening over in the Pacific.”

McDonald said it is a matter of national security for the country to be able to produce civilian mariners in support of the U.S. Armed Services.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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