Great Lakes Maritime Academy cadets to depart on two training cruises with increased safety protocols

TRAVERSE CITY — Cadets at Northwestern Michigan College’s Great Lakes Maritime Academy (GLMA) will soon depart on training cruises with increased safety protocols in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Thursday, July 2, 12 GLMA cadets, and one faculty member will sail onboard the T/S Kennedy on its voyage from a shipyard in Mobile, AL to its homeport at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. These cadets will be joined by cadets and midshipmen from Maine Maritime Academy, California Maritime Academy, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. The ability of the cadets to sail onboard the T/S Kennedy during this evolution was facilitated by the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD.) The vessel’s transit is expected to last 14 to 21 days.

"It will be a great experience, it will go a long way toward meeting our goal of ensuring cadets have the ability to graduate as per their model schedule, and it will be almost no cost to cadets," said Jerry Achenbach, GLMA superintendent.

Monday, July 6, GLMA’s flagship training vessel, the T/S State of Michigan, is scheduled to depart, from NMC’s Great Lakes Campus harbor, for the first of three training cruises. In phase one of the training cruise, 17 cadets, and one intern from Northwestern Michigan College’s Great Lakes Culinary Institute will be underway for seven to nine days. The ship will not make any non-emergency port calls, and no one will depart or enter the ship to limit the risk of possible exposure to the virus.

All cadets and crew for both ships were required to be quarantined and test negative for COVID-19 before they were allowed to sail.

GLMA and NMC have adopted increased safety protocols to help protect cadets against COVID-19. These measures are based on stringent industry protocols developed by MARAD, and follow the most stringent procedures being employed by the U.S. maritime industry. Safety procedures for cadet training include single occupancy berths, inspections, continuous sanitization, safe distancing and wearing face coverings in accordance with CDC guidelines. Additionally, the Academy worked with the Grand Traverse County Health Department on the quarantine procedures.

These training cruises will help cadets meet program requirements. Earning the required 360 days of sea time during the four-year program was already a challenge due to high Maritime enrollment, few available berths aboard commercial vessels, and academic schedule constraints. Shutdowns due to the coronavirus worsened the situation. GLMA’s training vessel, the T/S State of Michigan, would normally have departed in early May on its annual two-month training cruise. Due to the pandemic, the vessel will not get underway until early July.

In addition to the new cruise options, GLMA added the tugboat Mississippi to its fleet in June. The NMC Board of Trustees approved leasing the vessel in March as an additional way to help cadets meet required sea time.

As the state maritime academy of Michigan, the Great Lakes Maritime Academy at Northwestern Michigan College educates and trains deck and engineering officers for the U.S. Merchant Marine. Graduates earn a bachelor’s degree, and an unlimited tonnage/ horsepower merchant marine license. Read more about the Academy at


Release date: July 2, 2020

For more information:

RADM Jerry Achenbach
Great Lakes Maritime Academy Superintendent
(231) 995-1203


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