After nearly two months at sea, with ports of call in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean, the Maine Maritime Academy training vessel docked at home port on a foggy morning Sunday, June 30.
At one point, if an uninformed visitor had wandered onto the MMA wharf, he would have wondered why the crowd was staring into a harbor with only a few closely moored sailboats and skiffs. Then, heard before it was seen, the 500-foot ship emerged out of a thick white fog minutes before docking at its home port.
Under the direction of Captain Leslie Eadie III, the 244 midshipmen on board had spent the past 60 days at sea for hands-on experience on life as a merchant marine.
That training veered into a real-life situation when, on their 52nd day at sea, the ship responded to a distress call from a fishing vessel off the coast of Nova Scotia. The State of Maine was appointed by the Sydney Station Coast Guard as the on-scene coordinator, and launched a rescue team to address a medical emergency.
“The ship’s crew and students all responded quickly and professionally, with no delay or hesitation. Everyone should be proud that we were able to respond as we did,” the ship’s Facebook blogger reported on June 25.
Alumnus Doug McKay, 1947, who was there to greet the ship, recalled his own training experience on an AK43 British naval ship.
“We came up the river in Bath—it’s narrow—and the boiler started panting for air,” McKay said. “We lost power and dropped the anchor to stop the boat and ended cross-wise on the river.”
McKay was one of seven early alumni who had traveled to Castine for a class reunion of the first six graduating classes of MMA. Also on hand were Captain Bill Brennan—the first Commandant of Midshipmen—and the many friends and family there to welcome back students, staff and crew.