Monday, January 26, 2015

FTV Hiking, Snorkeling, and Kayaking Trip in St. Thomas


My freshmen sea term I didn't get the opportunity to participate in an excursion, so this year I made sure to take advantage of the hiking, snorkeling, and kayaking trip in St. Thomas, and I ended up having a great day!

We started off by mustering at the T.S. Kennedy on the pier at 0910, from there we took a 15 minute taxi to the EcoTour building and went over rules and instructions from our tour guide Maggie. She went over how to properly kayak, wear a snorkeling mask, and of course reiterated how important sunscreen and drinking water were throughout the day. 
After the intro we partnered up and loaded ourselves in tandem kayaks and got underway. We kayaked through a red mangrove forest which happened to be the only mangrove forest left on St. Thomas and a marine sanctuary! We took a break halfway to learn about the mangroves and the marine organisms that make their home in the roots growing directing from the sediment. 

After we continued on our way to Red Rock Island where, ironically, there was a huge red rock we hiked to. 

We learned about a few different plants, some were poisonous and some were not, learned about the animals living in the environment, and even had a hermit crab race!   Watch this!


Afterward we turned around and hiked back to the kayaks grabbed our snorkel masks and got in the water. We snorkeled along the edge of the mangrove forest to see the small juvenile fish living there for protection, and snorkeled a little ways off where we saw fish with all those amazing colors you see in a National Geographic special.


The water was incredibly clear and pretty shallow, so we got to get up close with a lot of the marine life. There were Sergeant Majors, different Trigger Fish, Goat Fish, Parrot fish, and even a shark and barracuda! 

All in all it was a great experience and I’m definitely glad I went!
 frin 1/c Kelci Sullivan

Try this activity to understand how salinity can affect aquatic species and how marine creatures have 
evolved ways for dealing with living in saline environment.

Watch a video: Where the tropical ocean meets the sea, a peculiar kind of plant thrives in shallow, salty water. These mangrove plants are incredibly important for shoreline protection and baby fi sh habitats. Jonathan investigates life in mangroves by visiting both Caribbean and Pacific mangroves. These mangrove plants are incredibly important for shoreline protection and baby fish habitats. Here is a study guide to use as you watch the video

The Great Barracuda found here in the Caribbean can grow up to 6 feet in length. It has a large mouth containing two sets of razor-sharp teeth.

Build your own fish from a paper plate, decorate it, and learn about the function of each of their fish’s fins in the process.

Examine the different techniques that three fish use to feed. Goatfish, parrotfish and long nose butterflyfish each live and feed on coral reefs in a different way.

CONTRASTS IN BLUE: Contrast Life on the Caribbean Coral Reef and the Rocky Coast of Maine.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

FTV US Virgin Islands here we come!

Ferry Dock at St John
A popular event on the first day was to take the ferry over from St Thomas to St John to go to the world famous Cinnamon Bay beach. St. John is home to the Virgin Islands National Park which protects over 7000 acres of the 12,500 acre island. Its a great way to enjoy and appreciate the beautiful natural resources of the island. The Virgin Islands National Park on St. John includes beaches that can be rated on a scale where 1 equals beautiful and 10 is totally awesome. It includes hiking trails,historical sugar plantation ruins,and salt ponds, A favorite spot of past and current MMA cadets is Cinnamon Bay, at about 1 mile, is the National Park's longest beach. At this beach cadets can go snorkeling, swimming, or play volleyball.  just a short swim from shore is Cinnamon Bay Cay,  A great place to spend your time swimming and snorkeling, or to spread your beach blanket in the shade and relax. Across from the beach and campground entrance/parking area is a Hiking Trail through the Cinnamon Bay Plantation ruins. See more about this popular spot
Many Cadets rented mopeds for the day and explored the island. Charlotte Amalie is the main town on St. Thomas and the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is well known for shopping, dining and historical buildings. You can explore many of the beautiful old buildings and homes on this virtual tour. 


There was a cruise ship docked in front of us when we pulled into the dock. Some cadets were even able to make some new friends from the celebrity cruise liner before their ship headed back to its home port.

St Thomas has a wide variety of great things to do, you can rent jet skis, surf, parasailing, banana boat, and even go deep sea fishing. Some of our cadets brought their own gear from home and went free diving at the coral reefs. Check out some of the reef life they may have seen.

All in all, our first day in St Thomas was a huge success.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

FTV Arriving in Charlotte Amalie St Thomas VI

At approximately 0800 the TS Kennedy picked up the pilot and headed into Wico Dock in Havenstadt St Thomas. Pulling in the weather was amazing. Once the ship was cleared by the ships agent, liberty was announced for the cadets. 

Our docking in Charlotte Amalie,  caused much excitement as the pilot ships arrived to guide us into our berth. 

The Pilots were both MMA grads,Tom Evans, Class or 1994, and Sean Bailey, Class or 2004. The ship slipped in starboard side to like a hand in a glove. Nice job to both Tom and Sean!

Here our "Tiki Port" is loaded from the ship onto the dock. This area is the main center for keeping track of the cadets and crew as they come and go from the ship.

But, by 1015 our gangway was open for liberty, and the masses of cadets and crew headed off to explore St Thomas. Before leaving the dock the Cadets were electronically check out of the ship, and encouraged by the medical staff to use lots of sunscreen to protect their skin from the much stronger sun rays.

I am here on medical duty myself today always reminding Cadets to use sunscreen and hand sanitizer throughout their day in port. Here is my message to them.

As they leave the dock there is no doubt they will see what fun the Port of Charlotte Amalie has for them.

Friday, January 23, 2015


23 January 2015

We moored in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas this morning.  It was beautiful with nary a breath of wind. The Pilots were both MMA grads,Tom Evans, Class or 1994, and Sean Bailey, Class or 2004.  Sean was an apprentice, a pilot-in-training, but you would not know it by the job he did. The ship slipped in starboard side to like a hand in a glove. Nice job to both Tom and Sean!

Once moored, the port authority and West India Company folks came aboard, as well as my agent, Coleen.  It is so funny, kind of like an old-home week since I have dealt with them so often over the past 20 years. Sean the pilot is standing next to me coming in, and he says, “hey Captain remember when we anchored the Empire State right over there in anchorage A?” Funny! But the business of bringing a ship into port is always the same, but papers must be exchanged, and all formalities finalized before we can let everyone go ashore.

But, by 1015 our gangway was open for liberty, and the masses of cadets and crew headed off for a frontal assault on the island. I hope they have a delightful port visit, they desire a little time off. But I hope they remember the words of warning and safety given to them last evening on the Helo Deck!

FTV Ship Maintenance

Today for maintenance we were assigned to the paint locker. Our job was to get various painting supplies organized and ready for those who were painting the decks, holds, and other parts of the ship. 

We had to make sure all the paint rollers spun properly, were supplied with enough paint brushes, and then separated the paint for different departments – deck paint on one side and engine room paint on the other. We also got to test out our new paint can shaker! The paint locker plays an important role in maintaining the integrity of the ship as it allows all the paint for different departments to be located in one safe spot.

4/c Brandon Hitchings; Bridgewater, MA Stephen Kelleher; Bourne, MA
Jesse Noonan; Onset, MA
Painting regularly on a ship is an essential habit to get into as it preserves the surface it is being applied to and helps prevent or slow down rust and corrosion. Corrosion is the deterioration of materials by chemical interaction with their environment. The term corrosion is sometimes also applied to the breaking down and damage of plastics, concrete and wood, but generally refers to metals. There are three main components necessary for corrosion to occur: Metal (example: iron), that would be the ship, Oxygen (usually from the atmosphere) and electrolyte (usually water), in our case lots of salt water.

Try some of these activities to learn why battling rust is job one on the Kennedy.


Which Metal Corrodes the Fastest?

Countering Corrosion

The Transfer of Energy 3: Rust and Corrosion

Thursday, January 22, 2015


22 January 2015

Let’s see, we have been at sea twelve days now, tomorrow will be thirteen.  Long time for some, no problem for others. I know the cadets will be anxious to get ashore, break up the monotony of the ship, go to the beach, or have a fresh seafood dinner.  I suppose I am no different, but must weigh out my job first.

 I have been busy today, making the last minute arrangements with the ship’s agent we use, cross referencing port requirements to the dock master and the US Coast Guard.  Not that I don’t know most of it, just making sure things have remained the same for me.  Actually, St. Thomas is a constant – same agency, same agent (Coleen), same dock master (Mark), same pilots (Rob and Tom).
Actually, Rob and Tom are MMA grads, and like most of them that graduated in the past 33 years, they had me in the classroom. Funny. But it makes me feel old.

Tonight we have Captain’s Inspection of all the cadet berthing spaces, and a pre-port briefing.  This is the “you better behave” lecture from Captain Rozak and Commander Kelleher.   Be careful about drinking, be afraid of drug sellers, hold onto your wallet, don’t walk alone at night, never get into a cab when there are two people in it, and keep groups less than five cadets…..on and on and on. I suppose it helps, but there will be a few – maybe five cadets – that do not listen, or did not believe them.  It will be those few cadets that will find themselves restricted to the ship for the next 30 days!

We dock in the morning – remember when your cadets calls, know what the charges are on the cellular service provider. It could add up pretty quickly!

FTV Deck Maintenance Duty

4/c Haley Delahanty; Holden, MA Sarah Monteiro; N. Falmouth, MA Cassandra Kolstad; Madison, CT 
3/c Kat Rastallis; Falmouth, MA

Today during deck maintenance we got to sit outside and splice line. We also put permanent whippings at one end of the line to keep it from fraying and unraveling. The weather was nice during the first half of the morning however, during lunch it began to rain. After lunch we came back and learned how to backsplice and short splice which will help in future classes. After that we got the chance to varnish a bench that will be used for many years to come. This is the average day in deck maintenance. Hard work pays off!

Rope splicing in rope work is the forming of a semi-permanent joint between two ropes or two parts of the same rope by partly untwisting and then interweaving their strands. Splices can be used to form a stopper at the end of a line, to form a loop or an eye in a rope, or for joining two ropes together.
 Rope work is essential in any aspect of work at sea. This is a given, as well as being useful in many  other pursuits as well. A thorough understanding of rope work will be required by all Deckies. Now take the quiz.

Use this tutorial to try line splicing

Ropes and cordage have been used since prehistoric times for daily activities such as fishing, trapping, hunting, carrying, lifting, and climbing. The tensile strength of a rope (or any object) is the amount of stress it can handle without breaking from being pulled apart. A rope in a game of tug-o-war is under tensile stress. So are the cables of a suspension bridge. Experiment with rope structure and tensile strength through the process of making a rope from grass.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


21 January 2015

We are passing the southern coast of the island of Montserrat this morning. Nothing too special, except you can clearly see the lava flow, from volcano crater to the sea. Just a river of rock and gravel meandering down thevalleys. Kind of cool, but probably not if you lived there a few years ago when the mountain top blew off!

Yesterday I was commenting upon steaming rates and distance.  When I mentioned “knots” for speed I wondered if all the readers followed that. So, knowing I talk about that occasionally, I am going to “re-send” a Captain’s Log
from 17 January 2011 – four years ago. Let’s call it a “classic log”. “Speed of ship is much like speed in an aircraft – where the external forces affect it very much. We've all heard the pilot of the Boeing say ‘We are experiencing headwinds, so our arrival will be delayed’ and the same is true for ships. Cars, trucks and trains have what is called positive friction with the land, whereas ships and aircraft are operating in a fluid medium –air and water actually act similarly from a dynamics perspective. How we determine speed starts with the propeller – on the Kennedy our propeller had a 22.946 foot pitch – or in other words, in one revolution it will drive the ship exactly 22.946 feet – multiply that by the revolutions per minute and you can compute the ship’s distance traveled over time – or what is known as speed. As we look at our effective speed, we then can compute the “engine distance” compared to
“observed distance” to figure out the percent efficiency, and a thing called “slip”, where head currents or following currents can change the propeller efficiency.

Yes, we confuse it one more step by using nautical miles (so do airplanes!).  Our miles out here are not based upon a British Standard, but by the Earth itself. One mile equals one minute of arc on average of the two great
circles on Earth – the Equator and all the Meridians. So, it happens to be just about 6076.1 feet in length. When the sailor or the aviator travels one nautical mile per hour, we differentiate from land by saying we are moving in “knots” – or a nautical miles per hour.  Wow, stop me now as I start thinking about the age old argument – is it a knot because of the old chip logs, or simply because to is slang for “naut” – I simply don’t know!” Hope you enjoyed this detailed explanation, again!

FTV Deck Training Classes

Division 3 Atlantic group had deck training today. Now, we are really underway. Seamanship was on the schedule with Captain DeCicco. First, we reviewed the knots we had learned in our STCW Basic Safety class we all took last semester. We did a Square Knot and the Bowline.

Square Knot


After we made sure we hadn’t forgotten those over break 1/C Andrew Byrne went over the French Bowline and the Spanish Bowline, which are used as rescue knots.
French Bowline
Spanish Bowline

Then, when we were ready to truly test our aptitude for this major, they showed us how to splice, which isn't as difficult as we freshmen thought it would be. Well, not at first, but after practicing for a while, we all managed to figure it out. Though, some of the finished products looked a little fatter and a bit more frayed than others. We started to get competitive with each other looking up at the person across from us to see who could splice better and faster. But it was all in good fun and there wasn't a person that didn't need help at one point. We all helped out our shipmates when we could. After all of that, we cleaned up the Seatorium and headed out, telling ourselves how “salty” we are on our way to be. We had a great time and are looking forward to more training on this cruise.

Directions for Knots:Reef, Bowline, and the Figure Eight

Learn knot tying step by step

This tutorial shows the best knots from the three primary knot categories: Loop Knots (make a loop in the rope), Bends (rope to rope knots) and Hitches (rope to object knots).

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


20 January 2015

We are doing our island hop leg of the SeaTterm.  Puerto Rico is now astern of us we steam toward St. Croix. As we move along the way to St. Thomas we’ll pass close to Nevis, St. Barts, Monserrat and others. The weather is nice, a little chilly under cloudy skies, with a north easterly breeze.

We prefer to steam at an economical rate, notice I did not say speed. Because we are a self-sufficient city at sea, making our electricity, fresh water, treating waste water and keeping all personnel cool (or warm) – there is significant decision making going on in the engine room operations. One element
is steam condensing.  The main condenser brings “used” steam in for the turbines, pumps and auxiliary systems, into a massive heat exchanger – where the steam meets the relatively cool ocean water – and brings the steam back to liquid form once more.  This requires a significant flow rate of sea water. When running slowly or in port, a large pump must move the sea water, but at sea
we can direct sea water passing the moving hull into the condenser via a big pipe called the “scoop”.  I
 we desire to sue the scoop the ship’s movement has to be about seven to eight knots.  So, we need that speed.

Mayaguez and St. Thomas are separated by only 120 miles. But keeping the ship moving to maximize deck an engineering training at an economical rate, we’ll travel nearly 500 miles.  That seems like an incredible increase,especially when the ship burns about 50 gallons of fuel per mile. But that is one element in the cost of our training operations.