TS Lone Star State

Texas A&M Celebrates Keel Laying For New Training Ship


On December 6, Texas A&M University at Galveston, the Texas A&M Maritime Academy, TOTE Services, LLC and Philly Shipyard, Inc. celebrated the keel laying for the fourth National Security Multi-Mission Vessel (NSMV) destined for the Texas A&M Maritime Academy in Galveston, Texas in 2025.

This event marks a milestone for the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) NSMV program, designed to provide a purpose-built, state-of-the-art training platform to replace the aging fleet of training ships currently used by the six state maritime academies in the United States. These vessels also serve as a disaster response resource during humanitarian efforts.

“The keel laying of the Lone Star State is another landmark in securing the future of the maritime industry,” said Rear Admiral Michael E. Fossum, vice president of Texas A&M University, chief operating officer of the Galveston Campus and superintendent of the Texas A&M Maritime Academy. “We are celebrating the next step forward in this significant investment by our nation’s government to support future merchant mariners in Texas and beyond.”

Congress approved $325 million in funding to construct the NSMV in December 2020. The 524-foot state-of-the-art ship will feature instructional spaces, a full training bridge and space for up to 600 cadets to train at sea. In addition, each ship will have modern hospital facilities, a helicopter pad and the ability to accommodate up to 1,000 people in times of humanitarian need. The NSMVs can also provide needed roll-on/roll-off and container storage capacity for use during disaster relief missions.

“Texas A&M University is leading the blue economy through the phenomenal work at our Galveston Campus. The mission of the Texas A&M Maritime Academy is critical to those efforts,” said Interim President Mark A. Welsh III. “The aptly named Lone Star State will enhance our ability to serve Texas, a maritime state, by providing highly skilled professionals to serve in industries essential to our economic prosperity and national security. Thank you to Chancellor John Sharp, our Board of Regents, the Texas Congressional Delegation and MARAD for supporting us in this endeavor.”

The Texas A&M Maritime Academy, an American Center of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Workforce Training and Education, offers training to students enrolled in specific Galveston Campus academic programs to prepare them to earn a U.S. Coast Guard License to serve as maritime professionals afloat and onshore, or in military service upon graduation. Training vessels serve as a living laboratory for those students to earn year-round hands-on experience in ship navigation and marine engineering systems, maintenance, safety and security. The academic year includes a two-month summer sea term during which cadets live, work, learn and train alongside one another while sailing to ports across the globe. Cadets currently train aboard the TS Kennedy, which MARAD transferred to the Texas A&M Maritime Academy this year to serve in place of the Lone Star State until it arrives in 2025.

State academy training vessels are federally owned and available to support federal response efforts to national and international disasters. The Lone Star State is the fourth in a series of five NSMVs. The first three were assigned to the State University of New York Maritime Academy, Massachusetts Maritime Academy and Maine Maritime Academy. Philly Shipyard holds the exclusive contract for the five-ship deal.

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Taylor Bounds