Texas Maritime Academy Cadets venture far from home honing their skills
GALVESTON, TX — They are about as far away from their home base as they can get — perhaps further than any of their predecessors have ever before gone — but even in their exotic South Pacific environment the cadets of the Texas Maritime Academy are industriously learning and honing the skills designed to put them in good stead in a variety of marine fields that are vital to the economy of Texas and the nation. That includes service as merchant marine officers and in a host of land-based and sea going jobs after graduation.
The Texas Maritime Academy cadets—134 strong—will sail approximately 11,000 miles in the Pacific. They are midway in their two-month cruise with their counterparts from the California Maritime Academy aboard the training ship T/S Golden Bear. They are currently en route to Auckland, New Zealand. From there, they travel to Pago Pago, and San Diego, California, before docking at the ship’s home port in Vallejo, California.
As they journey across the Pacific, the sophomore- and senior-level cadets are learning about terrestrial and celestial navigation, broadcast communication and sailing lines, and much more.
Cadet Michael Allison recently logged this report about the cruise. “The end of week two seemed to blur into the beginning of week three — the first few days merely a continuation of our training schedules. As we reach the midway point of our voyage, the time and date seem to have lost relevance in our daily lives; almost all pertinent information is piped through the ship’s public address system and any confusion about the day’s schedule can usually be resolved over breakfast.”
Reporting from Brisbane, Australia, Tammy Lobaugh, TMA assistant superintendent and assistant commandant for the cruise, gave the cadets high marks for learning to implement theoretical knowledge during the cruise.
“Here, young men and women can learn to become the next generation of third mates and third assistant engineers within the United States Merchant Marine.” She said, noting that it is the merchant marines who help import and export vital goods by engaging global markets and provide logistic support for many military efforts.
Lobaugh added that in addition to learning about maritime skills, cadets are becoming aware of events of rich historical importance of maritime life; particularly, seafaring traditions.
Allison and his fellow cadets said they enjoy learning these traditions, but they are also excited about acting as ambassadors for the Texas Maritime Academy, Texas A&M University and the State of Texas.
“Shortly after mooring along Portside Wharf, the gangway was lowered and Australian officials boarded the Golden Bear,” he said. “Once the all-clear signal was given by Customs and Quarantine, Queensland’s Daily Newspaper came aboard, conducting interviews with cadets and snapping a photo for the following morning’s paper.”
Allison also commented about his first shore leave and the next part of his journey: “Just before 1500, liberty was granted and for the first time in 18 days. With six days of 15-20 foot seas between Brisbane and Auckland, the next leg of the trip will prove to be quite interesting and will surely test the resolve of many aboard.”
The Texas Maritime Academy, part of Texas A&M University at Galveston, is one of six state maritime academies in the U.S. and the only one in the South. Its mission is to prepare its cadets for practical experience in seamanship, navigation, and engineering operations. The cadets may seek the officer licensing options in marine transportation, marine engineering, marine biology or marine sciences.
Texas Maritime Academy Superintendent William Pickavance said cadets learn much more than maritime skills on the summer cruises. “We are developing leaders,” he said. “Our students receive an education beyond a land-locked classroom. The ocean is their classroom. In the open seas, our cadets learn to navigate a course for their lives.”
To find more information about the TMA and other career programs offered at the seaside Texas A&M University at Galveston, go to www.tamug.edu or to http://www.tamug.edu/corps/SummerCruiseHome.html.