ELLSWORTH — The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced a funding bill that includes $300 million for a new training vessel for Maine Maritime Academy, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), author of the bill and chairwoman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, announced Sept. 19.
“Providing Maine Maritime Academy with this critical training asset for its students was one of my top priorities, and I worked hard to secure this provision in the final bill that passed the Appropriations Committee unanimously,” Collins said. “This new ship will be capable of meeting the demands of the rigorous instruction students receive to ensure they are fully prepared for their future careers at sea. Maine Maritime Academy bolsters Maine’s seafaring heritage and produces exceptional graduates who contribute to the Navy, the Coast Guard and the entire maritime industry.”
“This appropriation demonstrates that Congress believes in the value of our state maritime academies and our role in support of economic and national security,” said William J. Brennan, president of the Castine college. “Funding for this ship, the third in the National Security Multi-mission Vessel (NSMV) program, replaces the aging fleet of training ships with purpose-built modern vessels, greatly enhancing our maritime training and education program. Our current ship, the TS State of Maine, is almost 30 years old and the oldest ship in the fleet is more than 55 years old.”
Collins opposed a proposal earlier this year that requested $205 million to construct a training vessel for MMA. A press release from Collins’ office described the proposed ship as “a smaller, inferior vessel” compared to the ship funded in fiscal year 2019 for Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Maine Maritime Academy has nearly the same number of Coast Guard-licensed graduates and the same need for at-sea training as the Massachusetts academy. A design change also would have required the U.S. Maritime Administration to start from scratch in designing the new model.
The $300 million for the new training ship at MMA was included in the fiscal year 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill authored by Collins.
Collins introduced Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer when he delivered the commencement address at MMA in May. Approximately 1,000 undergraduates are enrolled at the institution.
(This post was edited on Sept. 23 at 12:25 p.m. to clarify a quote from Sen. Susan Collins.)