KINGS POINT, N.Y. – Last month the United States Merchant Marine Academy’s (USMMA) newest training vessel, the T/V Kings Pointer, made her maiden voyage from Jacksonville, FL to Ft. Eustis, VA. The vessel was fully crewed by professional mariners plus a group of cadets earning sea days toward their United States Coast Guard (USCG) licenses. These midshipmen are the first “Kings Pointers” to obtain sea days during the vessel’s first dedicated training mission. “We are very pleased to offer our midshipmen an introduction to dynamic positioning (DP) as part of their Sea Year experience,” said Rear Admiral James A. Helis. “Time spent aboard the Kings Pointer will complement and enhance the overall experience that every Kings Point cadet receives during their 300 or more days aboard commercial and military vessels.”
Prior to the vessel’s departure from Jacksonville, Captain Chris Gasiorek, the Academy’s Director of Waterfront Activities, introduced midshipmen to the bridge’s navigation and control systems, completed their Safety of Life at Sea ( SOLAS) familiarization tour, and supervised as they secured the ship for sea. Midshipman Kirk Wetzel, First Class took the vessel off the St. Johns dock and using the twin controllable pitch propellers, bow thruster, and azimuthing stern thruster and the training cruise began. According to Gasiorek, the vessel began riding turbulent seas - the midshipmen and crew had to get their sea legs and get used to the motion of the ship. Captain Gasiorek complimented the entire crew on their performance. Mates from the USMMA Waterfront, Jonathan Kabak, Liz Strojny, and Matt Brink “did a great job keeping the midshipmen on task and organizing shipboard operations. Midshipmen did a great job organizing watches, navigation, and training evolutions. Chief Engineer Mark Sorochynsky and the American Maritime Officers (AMO) Engineers did a great job in supervising and mentoring the four Engine Cadets, giving them the opportunity to start and stop the main engines and generators. The Seafarer’s International Union (SIU) crew were great shipmates and took on many roles especially when the rough seas resulted in a few seasick crew members.”
Regimental Commander, Midshipman First Class, Kevin Berto said of his experience. “On watch, we had the opportunity to take visual fixes off the many coastal aids to navigation (ATON) and once in the Chesapeake, had a thorough introduction to the DP system. Each deck midshipman was able to take the controls of the DP system – exploring its capabilities, learning the knobology, and discovering the practical limitations. Also, the deck midshipmen, standing three hour watches, cycled through the conn, steered on the helm, made practical use of the ECS and RADARs, and effectively communicated with traffic via the VHF radio.”
Midshipmen off-watch dedicated their time to completing sea projects and studying for final exams. The training mission ended at Ft. Eustis on the James River where the T/V Kings Pointer joined the Reserve Fleet and tied up port side to her sister ship, NASA’s Freedom Star. The Kings Pointer will return to the Academy when Mallory Pier is completed in the spring of 2014.