Texas A&M at Galveston Receives New Training Ship TS Kennedy

Port Bureau News,

The TS Kennedy. Photo courtesy of Texas A&M University at Galveston.

Texas A&M University at Galveston has received a new training ship, the TS Kennedy, a 540-foot vessel that will enhance year-round training for Texas A&M Maritime Academy cadets in ship navigation and marine engineering systems, maintenance, safety and security.

“We have dreamed of having this capacity for over a decade and are extremely grateful to the Department of Transportation, MARAD, university administration and elected officials for helping us get here,” said Col. Michael E. Fossum, vice president of Texas A&M University, chief operating officer of the Galveston Campus and superintendent of the Texas A&M Maritime Academy. “A large training ship that accommodates our entire maritime academy will allow us to meet industry demand for highly skilled mariners and maritime professionals and support the blue economy on the Gulf Coast.” 

State maritime academy training ships are federally owned vessels operated by the six state maritime academies to serve cadet-training purposes. Successful legislative efforts in Washington, D.C. secured the transfer of the TS Kennedy from Massachusetts Maritime Academy this year and a new, state-of-the-art National Security Multi-Mission Vessel, NSMV Lone Star State, in 2025. These ships have 12 times the capacity of the Maritime Academy’s former training ship, the TS General Rudder. While ship-sharing agreements with other state maritime academies have been in place for several years, the campus has not been assigned a training ship that would fully accommodate mariner training needs for the past 18 years.

The larger TS Kennedy expands the Texas A&M Maritime Academy’s ability to provide highly trained and professional U.S. Coast Guard-licensed deck and engine officers to serve on oceangoing and inland waterway vessels and commission officers to the Navy. With the nation’s workforce of skilled mariners aging and retiring, educating and training merchant mariners is critical to meeting the needs of citizens.

“Over 90 percent of everything you eat, wear or use travels through our nation’s ports and inland waterways,” explained Fossum. “Our programs educate and train the next generation of mariners and maritime professionals to ensure our state and nation's economic prosperity and security remains strong.”

Each summer, cadets embark on a summer sea term onboard the ship to receive at-sea training that often takes them to international locations. During the two-month term, cadets live, learn and work as a crew while also attending classes onboard. To share the importance of the maritime industry, the Galveston Campus also hosts events in most ports with their ‘Taste of Texas’ series featuring ship tours, games, music and other festivities. This year, cadets will sail from Galveston to Curacao, Georgia, Puerto Rico and Louisiana before returning to campus in August.

To attend summer sea term events, learn more about the Texas A&M Maritime Academy and follow cadets on their sea term journey, visit the Texas A&M presents a Taste of Texas website.