TRAVERSE CITY — The Great Lakes Maritime Academy at Northwest Michigan College just received word that it will receive a $1 million grant for cadet training and education.
The money came from the sale of obsolete vessels from the Maritime Administration’s National Defense Reserve Fleet and was equally divided among the nation’s seven maritime academies, said Rear Admiral Jerry Achenbach.
“It’s a tremendous thing. The last distribution of this fund (in 2011) was used to build a new ship simulator,” said Achenbach, the maritime academy’s superintendent. “We just received word Wednesday, and we’ll have a meeting next week to decide what to do with the money.”
More than likely, the academy will set aside half the money to hold as a hedge against a spike in fuel costs for its training ship.
“That way the cadets won’t get hit,” he said. “The other thing is upgrades of our engineering laboratory equipment, in particular, the welding simulator, and an upgrade to the electronics lab. Those are things we are just considering.”
The Great Lakes Maritime Academy trains deck and engineering officers to work in the commercial shipping industry. It’s the only academy in the United States that offers graduates the opportunity to be licensed to work on the Great Lakes and on the sea.
The scrap metal of the Defense Reserve’s obsolete vessels were purchased for recycling. The National Maritime Heritage Act requires 25 percent of the sales be distributed to maritime academies for facility and training ship maintenance, repair, and modernization, and for the purchase of simulators and fuel.