USMMA To Buy New Ship The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy is negotiating to buy a new learning vessel. U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point will be buying a new vessel to train their students on, the academy revealed this week. Rear Admiral James Helis, who was installed as the USMMA's superintendent on Monday, declined to provide details relating to cost, because the school is in the midst of negotiating, he said. The new vessel will provide midshipman training in "brown-water" operations, or travel through inland waterways like rivers. "Inland waterways are increasingly being used for commerce within the U.S.," said Helis, who mentioned the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River as hubs of marine transport. The school hopes to provide its students with training in those types of operations, so they can be prepared for those roles in the workforce. The move was announced as part of what the academy is calling its "stragetic plan," which lays out goals to be completed over a five-year period. In addition to working with cutting edge technology, the school will also be re-vamping some of its infrastructure. The U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said on Monday that one of those updates will include an overhaul of the science building, which he said has, "been around since Edison invented the light bulb."