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Maritime Academy training vessel visits Houghton

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette The T/S State of Michigan, a Maritime Academy training vessel, passed under the Portage Lake Lift Bridge Tuesday.

HOUGHTON — The T/S State of Michigan, a Maritime Academy training vessel, passed under the Portage Lake Lift Bridge at approximately 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, on its way from Duluth, Minnesota, to Houghton.

The 224-foot vessel is a former U.S. Navy submarine surveillance ship that bore the name Persistent.

According to the Maritime Academy, the vessel is now a training ship with its home port located at the academy facilities on the shores of Grand Traverse Bay.

The Maritime Academy is the third owner of the relatively new ship, states the academy website, being built in 1986 as part of a series of 18 Stalwart-class T-AGOS vessels designed to tow highly sensitive sonar arrays for the tracking of Soviet submarines. As the Soviet threat diminished in the 1990s, the Navy decided to decommission the T-AGOS fleet, and in 1998 Persistent and sister ship Vindicator were transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard for primary use in drug interdiction.

While under Coast Guard ownership, the Persistent was overhauled and repowered, but eventually deemed too slow for offshore drug enforcement and made available to other government agencies.

Working through the U.S. Maritime Administration, which owns the vessel, the Maritime Academy negotiated the transfer of the vessel to academy’s harbor in Traverse City.

The training ship supplements other training vessels and allows cadets to put into practice the theory and skill sets taught in the classroom.

“Cadets take great pride in the State of Michigan and value the sea time underway prior to their commercial sea projects,” the academy states.

The Great Lakes Maritime Academy was founded in 1969 to train and educate mates (pilots) and engineers for the commercial shipping industry.

The academy has seen numerous improvements in technology, facilities and training ships through the years.

A new facility opened on the site in 2003, followed in 2005 with a renovated and expanded harbor to better accommodate the T/S State of Michigan and smaller vessels.

The academy now had a new home with the stern of its training ship only 150 feet from the building.

The T/S State of Michigan is owned by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration and assigned to the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, Traverse City, Michigan.

The ship has a crew of 15 officers and crew, two instructors and capacity for 50 cadets.

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