Marine Academy of Toledo cadets explore a deck during a tour of the State of Michigan, a training vessel for the Great Lakes Maritime Academy. The ship will return to Toledo next year.
A towering, 224-foot former Navy submarine surveillance ship moored in the Maumee River on Wednesday gave students at the Maritime Academy of Toledo a hands-on educational experience.
Students visited the Great Lakes Maritime Academy training ship from Traverse City — called the State of Michigan — and toured the vessel’s bridge, control room, and galley to get a sense of what a maritime career would be like.
“The tour was interesting,” said Christian Orth, a 10th grader at the Maritime Academy of Toledo. “It gave me the chance to see and think about what I’ll be dealing with and designing in the future.”
Maritime Academy of Toledo students received one of two tours.
Those not in the school’s Career Tech Education program received 15 to 20-minute tours of the bridge, galley, and state rooms, and they had the opportunity to discover what life would be like if they were to choose a maritime career.
Those students toured the ship’s bridge, or command room, saw video-game-like controls and a steering wheel between 3-meter and 10-meter green-and-black radars, and examined a state-of-the-art GPS system that provides an electronic chart, or shore map, of the river.
Mike Hochscheidt, a head of engineering for the Great Lakes academy, explained to students how one or two engineers in the control room communicate with the captain and navigators.
He said teamwork is necessary for the ship to run smoothly.
Mr. Hochscheidt also gave the Career Tech Education leadership and engineering students an in-depth, one-hour tour of the control, or engineering, room.
The cadets listen as the ship’s bosun, Richard Gray of Traverse City, Mich., explains how the training vessel’s radar system works.
The Cold War vessel was launched in 1986 and towed highly sensitive sonar arrays to track Soviet submarines. With just 20 people then, it stayed at sea for months. Today, the decommissioned ship, which now has a 60-person crew, trains students to practice theory and skills to use sight and radar to navigate the ship.
Sophomore Lexi Knapp, who toured the outside of the boat last year and has been on many ships through Sea Cadet and Coast Guard programs, said that even though all the ships now seem the same, the in-depth tour taught her new details about engineering in the control room.
Lexi also said the ship’s tight and low quarters reminded her of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
She described the engineering room as so low that her 5-foot, 1-inch frame could touch the ceiling and so loud that it was difficult to hear the person next to her.
For Capt. Joe McGuiness, it was fun to see the students’ enthusiasm and help them make the connection between what they see on land and at sea.
“We’re really looking to expand the students’ horizons and help them think about the world outside their neighborhood, home, high school, and consider the great-paying maritime jobs that still exist,” he said.
Wednesday’s visit was the second in two years by the Great Lakes Maritime Academy training ship.
Students from Toledo have also been able to visit the Great Lakes Maritime Academy campus, which is also in Traverse City.
Next May, Toledo students can expect to tour the ship again.
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