News & Updates: Member Updates

Texas A&M Maritime Academy Stands Ready to Accept New 525-foot Training Ship

Tuesday, August 11, 2020  
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Illustration of a "National Security Multi-Mission Vessel". Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration.

 

Texas A&M University’s maritime academy is closer than any time in the past 15 years to being able to dock a training ship in Galveston. The yet-to-be-built ship would be able to take 600 cadets to sea, compared with 50 today, and serve double duty as the only hurricane relief vessel in the entire Gulf of Mexico.

 

Texas’ delegation in Congress successfully included $389 million in the U.S. House of Representatives’ appropriations bill to pay for the ship. The bill passed out of the House on July 31, as it makes its way to the U.S. Senate.

 

Chancellor John Sharp of The Texas A&M University System said he wanted to personally thank the Texas delegation in the House, particularly: Reps. Randy Weber, Will Hurd, Henry Cuellar, Kay Granger and Bill Flores.

 

“We have needed a suitable ship for years to help train much-needed merchant mariners and other sea-bound Aggies who are ready to serve,” Chancellor Sharp said. “I want to offer my gratitude to the Texas delegation for working hard to help the Texas A&M Maritime Academy and the entire maritime industry.”

 

The U.S. Maritime Administration is replacing the aging fleet of training vessels used by the state maritime academies with new “National Security Multi-Mission Vessels,” or NSMVs. The 525-foot ship is designed to provide a training platform and would be outfitted with several training spaces, such as eight classrooms, a full training bridge, lab spaces and an auditorium. It would allow cadets at the Texas A&M Maritime Academy to have access to the best training to make them ready to fill much-needed and highly paid jobs at sea.

 

“Texas A&M is one of only a handful of American universities to have the rare triple designation as a land-grant, space-grant and sea-grant institution,” President Michael K. Young said. “This impressive new ship will not only enhance the training and experience our cadets receive in our Maritime Academy, but also continue to advance the university’s mission of service from our campuses to the vast expanse of the sea.”

 

The ship would also stand ready to be deployed in the event of a hurricane or other disaster. Currently, there is nothing similar to the proposed NSMV in the Gulf of Mexico. It could reach any point in the Gulf within a day or two. Other training ships in Massachusetts and New York would need two weeks or more to reach the Gulf in the case of an emergency like Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Katrina or another disaster.

 

In the case of an emergency, the ship could house up to 1,000 federal emergency management workers, serve as a hospital or use its roll-on/roll-off ramp to deliver supplies to troubled areas.

 

“This new ship – with its state-of-the-art training capabilities and critical disaster-response capabilities – will transform our ability to accomplish our training mission while also supporting the immediate delivery of disaster supplies and emergency medical capability throughout the Gulf of Mexico region,” said Col. Michael E. Fossum, vice president and chief operating officer of the Galveston Campus of Texas A&M and superintendent of the Texas A&M Maritime Academy said. “We have dreamed of this capability for over a decade and cannot thank our Texas Delegation – as well as the System and university leadership – enough for moving this closer to a reality.”

 

The Port Bureau’s board of directors have also recognized that the proposed NSMV at the Texas A&M Maritime Academy will be an asset in developing our future workforce of highly-trained mariners. In preparation for the Senate’s vote on the bill, the board sent a letter of support in May to Senator John Cornyn advocating for the training ship funding.