News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, July 4, 2019
MMA begins Center for Professional Mariner Development

The site of the Center for Professional Mariner Development

This building, and the land behind it, will be the home of the new Maine Maritime Academy Center for Professional Mariner Development. The academy finalized the purchase last week.

Photo by Monique Labbe Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Monique Labbe

After months of discussion, negotiations and planning, Maine Maritime Academy has announced the purchase of a four-acre parcel of land at the site of the former Verso Paper Mill in Bucksport.

The site will serve as the location for the new Maine Maritime Academy Center for Professional Mariner Development, an annex facility that will provide specialized courses for professional mariners, academy-enrolled students and workforce development.

For professional mariners, the center will meet the demand of courses that enable mariners to receive certification and credentialing in the regulatory and industry sectors.

The new training center includes an existing 20,000-square-foot administration and instruction building, which will house classrooms, offices, training labs, simulator spaces, and conference rooms equipped with A/V technology and videoconferencing.

A fire training facility, complete with a brand new fire stack, is expected to be operational by the spring of 2020, with the goal of being available not only to academy students who need fire training for their courses, but eventually also to the fire departments in the surrounding areas. This would serve as an extra source of revenue for the academy, which was something discussed by the board of trustees leading up to the purchase.

The multi-purpose fire training facility will also meet the professional development needs of municipalities, counties, and the state in the training of police, wardens, National Guard, and hazardous waste and chemical first-responders. Additionally, the CPMD will provide workforce development training for cargo and dock personnel, shipyard skills such as welding, and electrical safety training.

Now that the purchase is official, the next step is the renovations to the building, which will include student classrooms and the offices of associated staff, according to the Jennifer DeJoy, Director of College Relations at the academy.

Renovations will begin soon, DeJoy said, and will not include any “extensive work. The building is in great shape.”

At this point, it is unclear what courses and programs, if any, will be available at the facility by the fall semester; however, DeJoy said the goal is to get staff into the building by October.

This is the first phase of a multi-phase project at the site, and will be used in several ways over the next few years as funding becomes available. Those projects have yet to be announced.