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Midshipmen Gain Practical Skills on Kings Pointer Voyage to Norfolk, Va.

KINGS POINT, NY – Mar. 25, 2016 – This year’s spring training cruise aboard the United States Merchant Marine Academy’s (USMMA) Training Vessel, T/V Kings Pointer, allowed midshipmen to hone their seagoing skills during spring break.

“Sailing on the Kings Pointer is another part of the incomparable educational experience our Academy provides,” said Superintendent, Rear Adm. James A. Helis, USMS.  Together with the vessel’s sponsor, Mrs. Jan Ryan Helis, they wished the crew well, sending them off with a cake with the Academy seal and “Fair Winds Following Seas.”

Under the command of Capt. Adam Donohoe, the T/V Kings Pointer sailed to Norfolk, Va., and back with a crew of 31, including 22 midshipmen, professional mariners and US Navy Reserve Officers.  During the weeklong voyage, the midshipmen predominantly ran the watches and conned the vessel under the supervision of the licensed crew, while they completed assigned projects and accumulated creditable sea days required for their license.

“The spring break training cruise afforded the embarked midshipmen many opportunities to apply their knowledge obtained in the classroom,” said Donohoe. “Midshipmen were able to hone their skills in terrestrial, electronic and celestial navigation, stand both navigational bridge watches and engineering watches and contribute to the overall capability of the ship through several drills and vessel specific exercises.”

Midweek the vessel arrived in Chesapeake Bay, continued down the Elizabeth River to Norfolk, and moored at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Operations Center – Atlantic, within walking distance of downtown. Mr. J. William Cofer, President of the Virginia Pilot Association and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Nauticus, arranged for a dozen midshipmen and crewmembers to visit of Nauticus and the USS Wisconsin.

Midshipman 1st Class Kenneth Pressey, who sailed as an engineer, described how impressive their visit to Norfolk was. “Seeing the stern of the USS Wisconsin, as a relic of one of the greatest vessels our American shipyards have produced, was just icing on the cake after the countless U.S. Navy destroyers, cruisers, and aircraft carriers we passed while transiting the Chesapeake Bay and Elizabeth River. The best part of it all was seeing the U.S. merchant fleet at its finest, with the bustling ports of the tidewater area.”

Back at Long Island Sound, the last day of the voyage was an extremely busy training day. First the midshipmen assisted the crew in completing a half-dozen Turning Circle Maneuvers, a Loss of Electrical Power Drill, and a Crash Stop Drill. Next the midshipmen conducted shipboard recovery man overboard drills. Finally, midshipmen had the opportunity to take turns using vessel’s Dynamic Positioning System to maneuverer the vessel around a deployed man overboard pole.

Pressey summed up the experience, noting “trips like the ones that take place on the T/V Kings Pointer require midshipman that are diligent, committed, and personable in a close quarters environment,  but at the same time our ability to stay composed under pressure and perform exceptionally well in a professional environment is what sets a true Kings Pointer apart.”


The 176-foot long training vessel T/V Kings Pointer is propelled by two combined 2,900 horsepower diesel engines, has a 6,000 mile range and a maximum speed of 15 knots. The ship’s controllable pitch propellers and auxiliary water jet thruster, combined with modern joy-stick dynamic positioning capability provide midshipmen a highly maneuverable training platform. The vessel has a 7,500 pound deck crane, which is an ideal tool for providing a basic understanding of modern cargo operations. It also has a fast rescue boat, which can provide midshipman critical experience in general launch operations. In addition, the vessel’s double towing winch, substantial towing H bitts, and a massive towing fairlead provide towing training capabilities to the Academy’s portfolio. This vessel is used to compliment the 300 or more days that each midshipmen spend at sea during their Sea Year.

By Cmdr. Benjamin Benson

Updated: Friday, March 25, 2016
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