KINGS POINT, NEW YORK, June 24, 2012 - It has been several months since United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) took delivery of the M/V Liberty Star, which will become the Academy’s new training vessel after retrofit and modernization work is complete. It takes a lot of work to convert a vessel that was once used by NASA into a training ship for midshipmen. Work now underway includes adding student berthing, installation of a hospital space, and preparations for the installation of a new rescue boat.
“While creating the USMMA Strategic Plan, many stakeholders, including midshipmen, faculty, alumni and industry, asked us to include an opportunity for Dynamic Positioning training,” said Superintendent Rear Admiral James A. Helis, PhD. “The new T/V Kings Pointer brings the Academy a step closer to reaching this goal.”
Commander Chris Gasiorek, Sailing Master and Director of Waterfront Operations and Training said, “Work continues on the T/V Kings Pointer to bring it into compliance with U.S. Coast Guard rules for training ships and to improve the vessel's training utility. Recent work has included sea trials to ensure that all dry dock work was completed properly, as well as a two hour dynamic positioning trial for the American Bureau of Shipping. This successful test ensures that our students will be able to receive credit towards Dynamic Positioning certification.”
Although the ship is away from Kings Point, she has not been far from Kings Pointers, as Naval Reservists and Midshipmen Cadets work side by side to prepare the ship for her new mission. Assisting on these underway tests were Captain Bren Wade, Class of 1987 and Mike Burbelo, Class of 2010. Burbelo, who serves as mate and relief captain for Otto Candies said, "I think the new training vessel will offer even more learning opportunities than the previous one. The majority of the workforce now revolves around brown-water shipping and supporting the energy sector. It seems to me that the new training vessel will really help bridge the gap between classroom training and most workforce operations. The fact that the new vessel has Dynamic Positioning will put future midshipmen at a huge advantage. The majority of the boats down here in the Gulf are similar in size to the Kings Pointer, and maneuvering is much like driving around a crowded parking lot. If the midshipmen are able to get more comfortable in close-quarters situations they will definitely be well ahead of other training academies."
The Academy recently added another vessel to its training fleet. The M/V Red Head is currently underway serving as a support vessel for USMMA’s sailing team at Block Island. The team is participating in the annual Block Island race week aboard sailing one of two Swan 42’s “Tiburon”. M/V Red Head will be returning to USMMA after the regatta. The vessel’s exceptional layout makes her a tremendous asset to the training fleet, providing an excellent environment for midshipmen to practice the navigation and engineering skills they have gained in the classroom.