Maritime Academy cadets return home
Massachusetts Maritime Academy freshman Ben Schaff gets a hug from mom, Fiona Santosuosso of New Orleans, soon after disembarking from the T.S. Kennedy yesterday afternoon. He and 598 other cadets were returning from a semester at sea.Cape Cod Times/Merrily Lunsford
By ROBERT GOLD
February 22, 2010
BUZZARDS BAY — The T.S. Kennedy slowly crept up to the docking area, drawing rapid-fire cheers from the crowd yesterday afternoon.
Parents, siblings, boyfriends, girlfriends and other loved ones flung their signs in the air, stuck out their cameras and shouted out to someone special on the ship.
The nearly 600 Massachusetts Maritime Academy cadets onboard slowly emerged from the Kennedy, back from their 43-day training mission. The group traveled roughly 6,800 miles during their semester-at-sea journey, including stops in Miami and the Caribbean islands Curaçao and Tortola.
“Glad you’re home, honey,” East Sandwich resident Bob Knott told his daughter, kissing her on the cheek.
“I’m so glad to be back,” 18-year-old freshman Sarah Knott told her father.
Sarah Knott was hardly displeased about the trip. She called the semester-at-sea “amazing” and raved about it in e-mail messages to her family during the voyage.
But after six weeks of sharing a room with 20 other female cadets, Sarah Knott was ready for some rest. The first item on her agenda: “going to sleep, absolutely.”
With 599 cadets onboard, the ship left Jan. 10 from the Maritime Academy’s Buzzards Bay campus. Five cadets could not complete the trip because of personal reasons, Capt. Thomas Bushy said. One cadet joined the voyage from another vessel.
During the journey, the cadets continued to hold classes six days a week, said Adm. Richard Gurnon, president of the state college.
But Gurnon said the biggest educational value of the semester-at-sea is the cadets run the T.S. Kennedy, from navigation, to measuring the salinity of water onboard, to anchoring the training ship at ports.
A crew of 97 accompanied the cadets, Bushy said.
The waters were mostly smooth during the six-week trip, according to the T.S. Kennedy’s captain. “Only one night coming home was it rock and rolly,” Bushy said.
About a week into the trip, the federal government said it needed the vessel to bolster relief efforts for the devastating earthquake in Haiti. That mission would have resulted in all but the senior cadets being sent home. Eight hours after getting official word on the relief mission and turning the vessel toward Haiti, the government decided not to use the T.S. Kennedy and the ship resumed its course to Curaçao.
“Our cadets and staff were tremendously understanding and cooperative,” Bushy said of the canceled relief mission.
Gurnon said the ship is available to head to Haiti if the federal government decides it is needed.
Leaving the dock with his family yesterday, Marstons Mills resident and Massachusetts Maritime Academy freshman Corey Hendricks said he was ready to take a hot shower and have a home-cooked meal. He said seeing new parts of the world made the journey memorable.
“It was my first time leaving the country,” he said.
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