Texas A&M Maritime Academy cadets and their faculty sailed into Port Canaveral on Saturday aboard the U.S. Maritime Service Training Ship Kennedy, marking the first arrival of the vessel at the Port. 275 Texas Maritime Academy cadets are on-board the vessel to gain critical hands-on ship operating experience in fulfillment of a required seven-week sea term.

Port Canaveral Welcomes Maritime Academy Training Ship
Caption: TS Kennedy arrives at Port Canaveral - Image courtesy of Canaveral Port Authority

Following Port tradition, Port Canaveral CEO Captain John Murray welcomed the Kennedy’s Captain Michael Campbell and presented him with a traditional plaque to commemorate the vessel’s inaugural visit to the Port.

“The training and learning opportunities our nation’s maritime academies provide for their students help to prepare them for future careers in the maritime industry – whether it’s on board a cruise or cargo ship, or in a port like ours,” stated Port CEO Captain John Murray.  “We are proud to welcome the Kennedy to Port Canaveral and wish the Texas Maritime cadets on board great success with their sea term.”

The TS Kennedy is owned and operated by the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) and has been used as a training vessel by Massachusetts Maritime Academy since 2003.  Texas A&M Maritime Academy and Massachusetts Maritime Academy are two of six maritime academies in the U.S. offering specialized maritime training and education programs.  Academy cadets pursuing certain maritime careers must sail a specified number of hours to earn a certification.

Caption: L to R: Sean McNeice,- Texas A&M Maritime Academy, Capt. John Murray – CEO, Port Canaveral, Capt. Michael Campbell – Massachusetts Maritime Academy) - Image courtesy of Canaveral Port Authority

The 540-foot TS Kennedy was once a commercially-operated MARAD break-bulk cargo freighter named the Velma Lykes.  She served the U.S. Government for over 20 years including multiple tours to the Persian Gulf during the First Gulf War. MARAD subsequently converted the vessel to be a training ship, and assigned her to Massachusetts Maritime Academy where it was christened the Enterprise in 2003. In 2009, she underwent an extensive $10 million rehabilitation conversion and renamed the TS Kennedy. In 2012, she was activated by MARAD to support FEMA in response to Hurricane Sandy.  More recently, she was deployed by MARAD to Texas and Puerto Rico to assist with relief efforts following Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

Caption: Texas A&M Maritime Academy cadets man the rails as Kennedy arrives at Port Canaveral - Image courtesy of Canaveral Port Authority

Port Canaveral is a popular port of call and has been historically welcoming students from various maritime programs for many years. Last year, the Port hosted Texas A&M Maritime Academy’s TS General Rudder and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s training vessel, Eagle.  

Source: Port Canaveral