Maine Maritime Academy training ship, State of Maine, returns to her home port of Castine following MMA’s annual 60-day training cruise to European ports Saturday, June 26. Arrival in Castine Harbor is expected at approximately 6:30 p.m., with docking anticipated at 7 p.m., according to a press release from the college.

Among the ports the training cruise visited over the past two months were Marseilles, France; a bunker (fuel) port call at Gibraltar; Kiel, Germany; and Portsmouth, England.

The ship docked in Portland June 20-23 before casting off for Castine, with a brief stop in Rockland for a family day-sail on the return leg to home port. The training cruise activity will continue in port through Monday, June 28.

The ship sailed 11,000 nautical miles with approximately 55 crew and 230 students aboard, the release states. According to T/S State of Maine Capt. Laurence Wade, students participating in this year’s training cruise had the opportunity to visit a number of modern European ports.

“We rotate our domestic and international itineraries to give as many students as possible an opportunity to make a trans-Atlantic crossing during their training with us,” said Wade. “Maine Maritime Academy graduates are responsible for much of today’s global trade transport, and for many of our students, this is their first experience of what is to come in their careers. The excitement builds from the day we begin training cruise in port.”

L’Ecole Nationale de La Marine Marchand de Marseille served as local host in France. In Kiel, Germany, and Portsmouth, England, the training ship was berthed at naval facilities of the countries. The staffs at both locations are noted for their attention to the needs of the training ship and crew, and provided logistical support, as well as cultural and sporting opportunities for MMA students and staff.

MMA’s popular online ship tracking and training cruise activities Web site coordinated by students and staff was published once the ship was underway. The training cruise Web site archives can be viewed by the public at by following the Cruise 2010 link. 

Saturday’s return will feature a special parents’ cruise from Rockland to Castine for families of upper-class students.

Complementing the educational focus of Maine Maritime Academy’s training cruise, students and staff sailing aboard the State of Maine once again worked in cooperation with the Belfast-based organization Educational Passages to launch a small, GPS- and satellite-transmitter-equipped sailboat. The 4.5-foot-long unmanned sailboat enables the study of ocean wind and current patterns by school or community groups.

Educational Passages’ sailboats, designed with assistance from an experienced naval architect and made of molded fiberglass, are capable of making long ocean passages. Relying solely on wind and current power, the sailboats sail indefinitely downwind and, with GPS and satellite transmitters, will transmit their location and boat speed for up to one year.

Initial sea trials of the sailboats were launched from MMA’s schooner Bowdoin in 2008, off the northeast coast of North America; this year will involve third-generation boats.