Mass. Maritime Sea Term 2020 to Begin Saturday

BUZZARDS BAY – Nearly one-third of the student body at Massachusetts Maritime Academy will depart for warmer waters Saturday.

The school’s annual Sea Term will provide about 540 cadets the opportunity to gain hands on experience on board the T.S. Kennedy.

During the nearly two-month voyage on the training vessel, cadets will rotate through class and laboratory training, handle ship operations and perform maintenance and emergency drills.

Sea Term allows cadets to put into practice what they have been learning at the academy from one semester to three and half years.

“While the majority of those students are studying transportation and marine engineering there are also other students who are participating in international business, shore-based engineering programs, as well as a program in environmental health and safety,” said Rear Admiral Fran McDonald, the Mass Maritime Academy president.

McDonald said a highlight of the trip for a majority of the cadets will be transiting the Panama Canal. McDonald called that the pinnacle of shipping and trade.

“Students will see firsthand the new expansion of the canal and what is moving through there with these supersized container ships and LNG carriers,” McDonald said.

“And they’ll see really what it is all about with international and global trade.”

This year’s voyage includes ports of call in Balboa, Panama; Golfito, Coasta Rica; Willemstad, Curacao; and Tampa. The cadets will also cross the equator. Cadets crossing it for the first time will participate in a Shellback ceremony.

“The cadets are not going as passengers on a cruise ship,” McDonald said. “Instead, they will be responsible for the running and the maintenance of the ship on top of concurrently taking classes while underway. It’s a very, very busy period.”

McDonald said while there are nearly 600 cadets are on the Kennedy during Sea Term, another 1,000 students are on internships and co-ops locally and worldwide.

“It’s a very important part of our Learn-Do-Learn philosophy where this winter period is most certainly the ‘do,’” he said.

McDonald said the trip can be daunting for cadets participating for the first time.

“As they come back, there is a new sense of maturity, worldliness and competency development” he said.

“There is also a sense of how important the classroom and laboratory work is that they now have been able to see put into practice under real-life conditions.”

The academy is inviting k-12 educators on Cape Cod to follow the cadets through the Follow The Voyage – Share the Experience program.

For seven weeks, students can virtually follow the cadets on a STEM adventure on land and sea.

The program is partnering with Plimoth Plantation and the Plymouth 400 Committee this year.

Participation is free and educators may register an individual class, a grade level, a school or then entire district.

To register, educators should reach out to Nancy Franks, the program coordinator, at  

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant grew up in Central Massachusetts and now lives in South Dennis on the Cape. He has been part of the news team in the NewsCenter since the spring of 2014. He studied radio broadcasting at the University of Tennessee.
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