Texas A&M University mariner training vessel visits Port Arthur
(Galveston, TX — The General Rudder, a floating classroom for Texas A&M University’s Texas Maritime Academy (TMA), is sailing to different ports in the Gulf of Mexico. The vessel is slated to visit Port Arthur from July 9 (Monday) to July 12 (Thursday).
Cadets sailing aboard the General Rudder are part of the Corps of Cadets of the Texas Maritime Academy, one of only six maritime academies in the country and the only one in the South. The academy prepares cadets with practical experience in seamanship, navigation, and general operations to help them seek license options as merchant marine officers for a host of land-based and sea-going jobs after graduation.
TMA Captain Jack Smith and his crew train a total of 50 cadets on the General Rudder during each of two summer training cruises. The visit to Port Arthur will mark the first port stop of the second TMA cruise. Cadets and crew welcome guests at each port for an opportunity to see a training vessel.
“We invite the community in the ports we visit to see our vessel and meet our cadets,” Smith says. “Our cadets spend three summers at sea to complete their mariner training requirements. They are prepared for jobs in the offshore oil industry and other positions worldwide. We are very proud of them.”
Even as cadets sail the Gulf of Mexico, they are learning and honing 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. Their mariner training prepares cadets for lucrative careers. Upon graduation, cadets can command $80K entry-level salaries and upwards. Training they receive ensures a qualified maritime workforce and an economic boost for the Gulf South.
Sailing on the General Rudder marks a new era for TMA cadets. The General Rudder is a new training vessel for Texas A&M. It was provided through the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD) in January as part of the agency’s mission to support training of merchant marine officers at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and all six State Maritime Academies. On June 6, the General Rudder was named and dedicated for WWII hero, former Texas A&M president and Texas statesman General James Earl Rudder.
Gen. Rudder is credited with initiating the process that would take Texas A&M from a small all-male predominately military college to a comprehensive teaching, research and service university with nearly 50,000 students, a 2,800-member faculty and an annual research budget exceeding $630 million. He enabled the authorization and funding of the Texas Maritime Academy and the founding of Texas A&M University at Galveston, which is now celebrating its 50th anniversary.
The General Rudder’s second summer cruise will sail from Galveston to Port Arthur as well as other ports in the gulf and return to Galveston on Aug. 26. Schedule is subject to change due to weather conditions or other unforeseen circumstances. For more information, go to http://www.tamug.edu/corpos/trainingship.html