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Cadets’ training vessel awaits repairs in Port Arthur

By Ken Stickney

kenstickney@panews.com

Some 65 cadets and faculty members on summer exercises for Texas A&M University at Galveston have been enjoying Port Arthur hospitality after their ship, the General Rudder, pulled into the Port of Port Arthur this week and awaits repairs.

2nd Mate Max Teare Jr., a Beaumont native and faculty member, said the cadets are part of the Maritime Academy, a specialized program within Texas A&M at Galveston. It is one of six maritime academies in the U.S. and the only one on the Gulf Coast. It prepares graduates for professional careers in the maritime industry to serve on ocean-going and inland waterway vessels.

Teare said the ship was here to pick up a rudder from the Beaumont reserve fleet when the ship broke down with a steering problem. The ship, built in 1984 as a submarine hunter for the U.S. Navy, was originally named the USNS Contender, then renamed the USTS Kingspointer when it became a training vessel for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in New York and finally the USTS General Rudder when it became a training vessel at Texas A&M at Galveston.

The ship, about 242 feet long, was the subject of a speech in May by Rear Admiral Michael J. Rodriguez, superintendent of the academy, who lamented in speech in May at the Carl Parker Multipurpose Center at Lamar State College Port Arthur that the program needs a more suitable ships for training the academy’s cadets, who now number more than 500. Cadets must go to sea as part of their training before graduation during the yearround program.

Teare said the program would be better served by a ship of some 550 feet.

The cadets and officers have been in Port Arthur since Wednesday and expect to stay until early next week. Teare and Chief Mate Kate Fossati of Victoria, also a faculty member, said the crew has been treated well at the International Seafarers Center, located near the port, and that local people have provided entertainment opportunities for the cadets.