DOT Secures New Training Vessel for Kings Point

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by tankercaptain, Aug 21, 2012.

  1. tankercaptain

    tankercaptain Member

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    WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that the Department’s Maritime Administration has secured a new training vessel for the U. S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY. In an agreement with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Academy will receive a space shuttle solid rocket booster recovery ship, the MV Liberty Star, which will provide a hands-on learning environment on which midshipmen can train using modern navigational technology, including dynamic positioning and advanced towing techniques.
    The agreement, signed today by the Department and NASA, outlines plans for the transfer of the vessel along with the Academy’s future relationship with NASA. MARAD will relocate the vessel from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to Kings Point, New York, this fall. The Maritime Administration is planning shipyard work to increase onboard berthing and fully convert the MV Liberty Star to a training vessel after its arrival at the Academy.
    “Securing this modern vessel supports the goals outlined in the Academy’s new strategic plan and will ensure our midshipmen get the top-notch education and training they need to compete and win in a competitive global marketplace,” said Secretary LaHood.
    “This past April, when we toured the Academy, I asked for three things and today we are batting 3 for 3: we have a new superintendent in place, we were able to increase capital funding in the senate appropriations bill and now we have a new training vessel on its way,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer. “We are righting this ship not only for the midshipmen currently attending, but for the generations of students who will come. The Merchant Marine Academy is getting back on course and I commend Secretary LaHood for his hard work, hearing our call and delivering promptly.”
    Like all other Maritime Administration reserve ships, the Academy training ship will remain on call for occasional use – in this case NASA missions – allowing midshipmen to get at-sea experience with commercial crews.
    “This agreement is a win-win for both Kings Point and NASA,” said Maritime Administrator David Matsuda. “The ship's high tech equipment and real world capabilities closely mirror what graduates will see entering the maritime workforce.”
    “The acquisition of this state-of-the-art training vessel will help us provide the best education and hands-on experience for our future maritime leaders,” said Superintendent of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Rear Admiral James A. Helis. “There is nothing like real life experience to facilitate the learning process.”
    Although midshipmen obtain the sea time needed for their U.S. Coast Guard license aboard commercial merchant ships during their “sea year,” the new training vessel will familiarize midshipmen with shipboard equipment and characteristics, and basic ship handling.
    The Obama Administration has made a comprehensive effort to renew facilities and teaching infrastructure at our nation’s maritime academy. Since FY 2009, the Obama Administration has requested and Congress has appropriated more than $300 million for the Academy, which includes $239 million for operations and $61 million for capital improvements – including $23 million last year, the most funding ever secured for physical improvements at the Academy. The vessel will be a major component of a renewed waterfront at the Academy that includes a new pier.
    Background of the MV Liberty Star
    The MV Liberty Star was one of two vessels used by NASA to recover the space shuttle’s solid rocket boosters following the launch of a space shuttle mission. Propelled by two combined 2,900 horsepower diesel engines, the 176-foot long MV Liberty Star has a 6,000 mile range and a maximum speed of 15 knots. The ship’s controllable pitch propellers and auxiliary water jet thruster, combined with modern joy-stick dynamic positioning capability provide midshipmen a highly maneuverable training platform. The vessel has a 7,500 pound deck crane, which is an ideal tool for providing a basic understanding of modern cargo operations. It also has a fast rescue boat, which can provide midshipman critical experience in general launch operations. In addition, the vessel’s double towing winch, substantial towing H bitts, and a massive towing fairlead add significant new towing training capabilities to the Academy’s portfolio.
     
  2. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    That's pretty cool.

    I assume it's seen a number of upgrades since 1981, right?

    What a horrible political sideshow the "Obama adminstration" piece of this announcement is...
     
  3. tankercaptain

    tankercaptain Member

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    I will say this, it is an interesting choice.

    MV Liberty Star - Launched: January 1981

    USNS Contender (Former TV Kings Pointer) - Launched: December 20, 1983
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2012
  4. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    I have to believe given the description of the power plant, the dynamic positioning capabilities as well as real towing capabilities compared to the former TAGO-S vessel that was the Kings Pointer are all upgrades/improvements as far as a useful training vessel Add the fact that compared to the former Kings Pointer my recollection is the NASA Booster Recovery vessels need only 3 to 5 licensed officers to get underway and legally operate compared to the 8 -10 the Kings Pointer required and this vessel should be much more economical to operate - though it will also likely accommodate fewer trainees at a time - which is fine given this is meant to augment and compliment the sea year, not replace it.

    Just a gut reaction and compared with other alumni on this forum a relatively uneducated one. However having heard the teaching staff's issues in the past with the T/V Kings Pointer, this selection definitely seems to have the capability to address several of them, and possibly still leave budget space to make adding one more YP vessel like Liberator to the Waterfront training vessels for use in real, accredited courses and in support of the programs directed and needed by both the Marine Transportation and Marine Engineering Departments.

    My feeling is that we need to look at this (training vessels) in conjunction with Sea Year and also available simulators and simulator time in a wholistic fashion. The Kings Pointer was less than ideal when she was in that mix. Don't get me wrong, as the TS General Rudder she is a large step up from what Texas A&M had before she arrived but as part of a mix that included the USMMA's sea year, she was a likely a lot weaker fit for an overall program then the MV Liberty Star can be.
     
  5. tankercaptain

    tankercaptain Member

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    Let's look at the overall picture of the new training vessel especially with respect to the towing industry and obtaining a towing endorsement.
    The article claims that the vessel has dynamic position system. Is it an approved DP system? No where online is there any information of the ship having a DP1, DP2 or DP3 approved system. Even if it does have an approved DP1 system will KP be offering a DP basic course? If not it's nice to have but pretty useless. Second it's plant isn't too different from the contender or the navy YP. Granted it's controllable pitch had has a bow and stern thruster, but not the old Kings Pointer had a bow thruster.
    Towing gear, I suggest taking a look at the vessel online, it is not a conventional ocean going tug setup or has the stern section of an ocean going tug that would facilitate training in ocean towing. However again, this new tug is really meaningless if their is no USCG approved TOAR program in place
    With regards to the smaller crew and crewing the old Kings Pointer. There is nothing that should have stopped the school from having instructors going on KP trips. There are plenty of faculty that have licenses and part of their conditions of employment was to go on trips, however the administration never did anything to fulfill that requirement.
    With this being said, the US Army is looking to get rid of their 800 series ocean going tugs and their 900 series harbor tugs in order to obtain a commercial design. Even obtaining an old Navy YTP or contracting for a New Navy YTP would have been a better choice.
    With that being said, the new vessel miss the mark.
     
  6. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    Seems like a plus for grads who are looking to enter the subsea industry and OSVs to some extent. Not so much for conventional towing (both offshore and inland) and getting their TOAR.

    It's not the complete answer, but a step in the right direction. I don't see a single vessel doing the trick.
     
  7. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    tankercaptain:

    As you know the old Kings Pointer had a diesel electric plan pretty much unlike anything in commercial maritime service today and my understanding was basically useless for training engineers other than to get any missed required sea days. So for that reason alone, my understanding was

    As to your comment:

    My understanding was that for whatever reason, I thought it had to do with pay and work rules, staffing the Kings Pointer with officers from either the Department of Marine Transportation or Marine Engineering required the professors to volunteer their time and they were unwilling to do so without additional compensation. Is that understanding incorrect? And even if it's not correct isn't it easier to staff a vessel requiring 5 licensed personnel underway then one that requires 10?

    My final thought/feeling is that as regards wether the DP System aboard is DP1, 2, or 3 or not is that something is better than nothing - a point you appear to not agree with and in any case in order to get them a DP endorsement capability, USMMA still needs a simulator one way or the other in my view.
     
  8. tankercaptain

    tankercaptain Member

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    It's not a win for anyone, if the academy really wanted to move in the brown water direction it would have acquired a real tug, best case a new navy TY, worst case an old army or navy tug. Then create a program to have individuals get their towing endorsement.

    If they wanted a real OSV they should have got a real OSV that is DP classified. Spending two weeks on a poorly looking OSV with no DP classification or certified equipment doesn't help the students. At it does is give them a false sense of training, ie that they think this is what it is like while in reality it isn't.

    MARAD should have done better.
     
  9. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    I said a "plus" not a "win". I think it can give them a better idea of what a subsea vessel is like than sailing as cadet on a container ship or tanker and that is a plus. That's about the extent of the plus though. I see zero benefit towards the towing industry and I agree 100%, they need a real tug.

    Although I see it is a step in the right direction, of it fools MARAD into thinking they have solved the problem then I say it's a loss. A loss for the students and by extension the industry they will be entering.
     
  10. tankercaptain

    tankercaptain Member

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    Kings Point still does need a simulator for DP training and we will see if they ever move forward on that. Saying a ship has dynamic positioning when in reality it doesn't isn't really better than nothing. The Liberty Star has a bow thruster and stern thurster. To do dynamic positioning you need the bridge equipment. Everything I have read and seen, the vessel does not. I can get on any ship with a bow and stern thruster and a controllable pitch propeller an d call it a dynamic positioning vessel by MARADs standard.

    You are right professors at Kings Point are unwilling to volunteer their time for the training vessel, however if you look at the conditions of appoint through OPM they are supposed to fill in on the training vessel. Let's be honest, none of them want to do it because it requires a little bit of work and no one in the administration want to enforce it. I do agree it is easier to staff with fewer officers, but why not then just get another YP?

    With regards to the engines, all drillships are diesel electric. So I wouldn't say that a diesel electric ships is useless. Please note I'm not supporting the old Kings Pointer either. Also more and more brown water ships are moving towards diesel electric, so again not too bad. I will also say this, a diesel is a diesel is a diesel and big or small any type of training on it is good. Remember this evey ship has diesel generators. The old Kings Pointers engines were similar to shipboard diesel generators, one of the main jobs for a third is to take care of the diesel generators. Third Assistant Engineers send most of their time working on the diesel generators, the old Kings Pointer was perfect for that training.

    I'm not going to praise a boat that doesn't do anything well.
    Remember this we keep hearing how DOT wants to make Kings Point the crown jewel of academies and the premier maritime academy. The MV Liberty Star doesn't move KP in that direction.
     
  11. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I don't see KP being a crown jewel, but then again, I am biased (not AGAINST KP, just in favor of a different service academy.)

    I (natually I guess) assumed the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy was the premier maritime academy, if for no other reason than that it is federal. Are you saying SUNY Maritime or Maine or Mass. Maritime, etc are better maritime schools?
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2012
  12. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    Can't you just go troll on the other four Academy's forums to pump up your total number of posts stats? We're actually having a serious conversation and discussion here that might be of use to someone who is looking at what going to KP would mean for them if they are interested in graduating and going into it's primary field of training/endeavor.

    We spend enough of our professional lives interacting with USCGA grads who really don't understand what we do, why we do it and most of all how we think.

    For the record, speaking for myself, and I expect also my fellow USMMA alums here - none of us would rather have graduated from SUNY-MC, Maine, Mass., Cal, Texas or Great Lakes Maritime but all are fine schools, each of which have some notable strengths and all of which teach people about how to be a mariner and spend life at sea better than a school in New London or Maryland. Though of course those schools do a fine job at preparing Coast Guardsman about all seven missions your service has or in the case of that school in Maryland how to be fine Military officers in the Navy or Marine Corps.

    Sorry to sound so snarky but last time I checked none of us go and try to get all up in the other forums "bidness" or bait members there (you all seem to do that more than enough to each other with your intra-service rivalry "stuff" on threads that try and celebrate the heroism and service of the folks from services other than your own at the off-topic forum.) For example:

    http://www.serviceacademyforums.com/showthread.php?t=27281
     
  13. 1WayOrAnother

    1WayOrAnother New Member

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  14. tankercaptain

    tankercaptain Member

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  15. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Jasper I'm guessing your blood pressure is up because of the general coversation you're having with your fellow KPers. I can understand that.

    Perhaps because it's print I can't truely convey a joke. My bias comment was a joke. I could HOPE that each academy hopes to be a crown jewel.

    As for KP. I applied to KP. I spent the night at KP. I got an LOA and acceptance at KP and I think I would have appreciated KP. I decided on CGA only because it was a good fit, and not because of a misgiving with USMMA or USNA. I enjoyed the rivalry and I have a number of KP friends, both from my time as a cadet, and as an officer with guys/gals who commissioned in the Coast Guard.

    That said, I ASSUMED that KP would be light years ahead of state maritime schools, if for no other reason than funding. I am disturbed to hear, from your fellow KP alum, that this is not the case. I only care to see KP's succeed (but not in sports).

    If I'm trolling, I can promise you, my comments wouldn't be middle of the road, however, in general would not be directed at sister academies.
     
  16. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    had to call the Commandant, told him some KPer just cut 4 missions...

    He said that was fine.
     
  17. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Reminding someone in a "never forget" thread that he in fact forgot an entire service is hardly "intra (and I think you mean inter) service rivalry.


    I don't do "BUT MINES THE BEST".... I just say "Don't forget about mine."


    You should understand that. USMMA is the least understood, most forgotten service academy. I assume you are not 100% pleased when people say "four service academies" (I know, I know, they're usually say three).

    What's different from a service academy and the service is, I take personal offense when someone knowingly ignores a service. I'm sure to include all FIVE military services. If we're talking UNIFORMED... all SEVEN.

    I make no apologies for doing so. But that is a far cry from "interservice rivalry".
     
  18. tankercaptain

    tankercaptain Member

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    With regards to this thread. Many may say I'm too negative and should look at the bright side. I want to remind everyone, I only want the best for Kings Point and I only want the best for the midshipman that go and will go to Kings Point.
    If Kings Point is going to be the crown jewel of service academies and the premier maritime academy in the world. DOT, Marad and Kings Point must do better, and we as alumni, parents and midshipman current and future should demand only the best and hold DOT, MARAD and the administration accountable. We must keep pushing them to be ensure that Kings Point is moving forward and is a visionary maritime school.
     
  19. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    LITS:

    Please STOP hijacking this thread like you so often do elsewhere and go play somewhere else. Don't you have a commandant to call somewhere?..
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2012
  20. jasperdog

    jasperdog Member

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    tankercaptain:

    I'm not saying you're being too negative, and you know from our other discussions/exchanges I agree we must keep pushing. That said, from an horrible, in my view, training vessel, we rarely took away from a pier that needs refurbishment, to no vessel, to a training vessel with in my uneducated view, at least as much training value as the prior vessel, at a lower operating and maintenance cost, that will be moored on a pier slated to start being refurbished in 6-8 weeks, is forward, positive progress in my view, especially in view of the time-table it happened (the training vessel not the pier - months versus years).

    If in order to sustain and accelerate the trajectory we need to acknowledge and positively affirm our support for the leadership in the current administration, I don't have an issue with that.

    When has anyone at the Secretary level ever been so supportive and personally involved and accessible to the Staff and Administration at the USMMA? I can't recall that ever being the case, and of course we might take some issues but the person in that office is always going to have an opinion and choice in the various transportation projects and modes he/she takes an direct interest in. I'm happy to see the recent focus and progress and i regard it as very positive given how little else is being done by any of the three Federal Branches leading up to this November's elections...
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2012

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