KINGS POINT, N.Y., August 27, 2015 – The United States Merchant Marine Academy’s (USMMA) newest plebes, completed their first overnight training cruises aboard the training vessel, T/V Kings Pointer this month. The first of ten scheduled overnight trips for the Class of 2019 sailed August 13-14. These trips follow the nine shorter plebe day trips conducted during indoctrination. The intent is for each class member to participate in an overnight cruise by the end of the trimester.
“The overnight training cruises serve a dual purpose,” said T/V Kings Pointer Master, Capt. Adam Donohoe, USMS, “for the Plebes it provides an introduction to deck and engine operations aboard a merchant vessel and for the upperclassmen it allows a practical platform for them to practice skills they will soon apply out in the industry.” The vessel is fully crewed by professional licensed mariners, and augmented by upperclassmen who volunteer to instruct the plebes while earning sea days toward their United States Coast Guard licenses. The upperclassmen run the watches and provide instruction to the plebes under the observation of the crew and faculty, giving the upperclassmen who will be entering the industry in a short time important leadership and management experience.
The trip began with midshipmen reporting aboard, checking the station bill, stowing their gear and receiving watch assignments. While the upperclass deck midshipmen conducted pre-departure checks and inspections, the Class of 2019 was split into two groups to observe main engine start up procedures. Once underway, the first plebe watch section began their four hour watch rotation on the bridge, engine room and damage control (DC) familiarization. After a long night, all hands were called out at 4:15 a.m. to prepare for returning to port, eat breakfast and start cleanups.
Regimental Training Vessel Master, Midshipman 1st Class Reed Calkins, said, “The overnight trips are a new venture for us and have not been done since acquiring the new training ship. These trips are valuable in helping the new plebe class determine their major and immediately put to use what they have learned in their initial academic studies.” He added, “This practical use of classroom material is something I wish I had experienced during my plebe year to help demonstrate the importance of academics and get accustomed to life at sea. My hope is that the Academy continues this program for years to come so every midshipman can show up to their first sea year assignment already possessing key skills needed to be safe and successful while on board.”
The plebes really enjoyed the trip; Plebe Elias Yu said, “The Kings Pointer trip was a great experience because I got to apply all that I have learned in my classes in a real world scenario. Also, being on the bridge and learning the basics on how to steer, plot courses and read the radar.” Plebe Brianne Cook added, “The Kings Pointer trip was incredibly eye opening for me. Getting the opportunity to stand watch on an actual ship and learn the ropes (no pun intended) was helpful. I learned a lot and look forward to doing it again.”
The vessel’s permanent deck officers, Capt. Donohoe, USMS, and Chief Mate Jay Amster, were joined by Capt. Scott Nicholas, USMS, and Cdr. Carolyn Hunter, USMS, both Unlimited Masters and professors in the Department of Marine Transportation. The Engineering Department is led by Chief Engineer Mark Sorochynskyj and Assistant Engineer Alex Miller, both are members of American Maritime Officers (AMO) union employed by AMSEA. Miller, a 2015 USMMA graduate, was very happy to return to his Alma Mater for the first time as a licensed officer.