MMA Students Set Sail on ‘State of Maine’ 

While it’s the end of the school year for many college students, Maine Maritime Academy freshmen and juniors are continuing their studies this summer at sea.

Caitlin Burchill takes us to Castine where the training ship, the State of Maine, left port for quite the international cruise.

Monday was chilly in Castine, but Maine Maritime Academy students will be soon sailing into warmer weather.

“For the juniors, it’s a culmination of a long period of training. A chance for them to cut their teeth a little bit. For the freshman, it’s their first experience in the industry,” said Capt Nathan Gandy, Commandant of the ship and MMA grad too.

90 days for the first years to get their sea legs and see new sights.

For upperclassmen, the 45 day stint is a chance to cruise into their future careers.

“It’s an opportunity to get our feet wet with a leadership role. I also think it’s fun to watch the freshman go through what we did a few years ago,” said Second Class Shipman Andrew Gaynor.

For all aboard, the hands-on journey takes them to destinations many people only dream of.

“I’ve never been to the Canary Islands. Scotland is wonderful. I’m looking very much forward to it, especially being out to sea. It’s going to be great,” said Second Class Shipman Henry Hoovestal.

Family and friends gather along the shore to wave goodbye to their loved ones.

“He had watch yesterday, so we didn’t get to see him on Mother’s Day, but we spent Saturday night together and we get to see him off. He’s ready. He’s looking forward to it,” said Kathy Smith of Franklin about her son Sam.

For some parents, they too remember when they set sail on a similar ship decades ago.

“Brings back some memories. I’m happy for him. I think he’s had some good experiences out of it. I think they’ll all grow from it,” said Mike Bunker of Franklin, who went to MMA and is now here to see his son depart.

“Did it make an impact on you?,” said TV5’s Burchill.

“Without a doubt. I’ve been going to sea ever since,” said Capt Gandy.

Another year, another group embarks on the journey of a lifetime.

“Throughout the year we’ve made really good friends, so now we’re on a 500 foot playground for 90 days so let’s see how this turns out. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said freshman Christina Wilson.

As the Irish proverb suggests, some of the best ships are friendships.

The State of Maine will return to port in Castine in August.

Friends, family and fans can follow the ship’s journey through their blog.