By Kathy Curran, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – The state-run Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay says safety at sea is a top priority, but the I-Team has found that not everyone agrees, with critics suggesting the academy may be placing its young cadets in jeopardy.

Full-body, waterproof survival suits — also called immersion suits — can stretch survival time in the chilly water off the New England coast from minutes to hours.

They are so effective that every person aboard every cargo vessel that sails in cold water is required to have one in case they have to abandon ship.

WBZ-TV’s Kathy Curran reports

“It’s a matter of life and death,” said Kevin O’Halloran, who has worked 32 years in the maritime industry, 16 of those as a ship captain. “These are one of the greatest things we’ve had on ships for survival, crew survival, over the last 30 years.”

The Coast Guard rewrote its regulations to require survival suits after the Massachusetts-bound cargo ship SS Marine Electric sank in February 1983 and 31 of its 34 crewmen died in icy waters off the coast of Virginia.

One of the sailors who died was a graduate of the Mass Maritime Academy and he’s remembered on a campus memorial.

But the I-Team has discovered that some of the lessons of the Marine Electric disaster aren’t necessarily being applied at the Mass Maritime Academy.

Each year about 600 cadets set sail on a six week mission aboard the academy’s cargo ship, the TS Kennedy. The school provides survival suits for crew and faculty, but not for the cadets.

“The idea that the crew and the officers would receive an immersion suit and the students would not, it just made them seem very second class, very expendable,” said one parent of a Mass Maritime cadet., who agreed to talk only if we hid her identity.

The school is in compliance with Coast Guard regulations, which classify the TS Kennedy as a passenger ship, not a cargo ship, and do not require that each cadet have their own survival suit.

The parent said the cost of immersion suits — between $400 and $600 dollars apiece — is insignificant when weighed against the safety of the cadets. “It seems as if they’re saving money in a very foolish area,” she said.

“I think it’s a poor decision,” said O’Halloran, who graduated from the Mass Maritime Academy and now works as a maritime safety auditor.

“Safety is everybody’s business and if you’re going to have survival suits for one group of people you have to have them for everybody,” he said.

Captain Thomas Bushy, vice president of marine operations at Mass Maritime, defended the school’s policy, emphasizing that the TS Kennedy complies with every Coast Guard safety regulation.

“There’s going to be risk in almost everything we do in life,” Bushy said. “I can’t eliminate every single element of risk on this ship.”

Asked if he would want an immersion suit on board for every cadet, Bushy said: “I don’t think that it adds that level, that increased level of safety. I don’t think it would be worth it.”

Officials at Maine Maritime Academy take a different approach, providing survival suits for every cadet on their annual training voyage. A spokesman said: “It’s our intention to provide the highest degree of safety for everybody on board, no matter whether they’re crew or cadets.”

The other two public maritime academies in New York and California do not provide survival suits for cadets on their training ships.

Comments (40)
  1. ME 2013 says:

    As a 2/C cadet at Massachusetts Maritime Academy I would like to point out several things from the cadet’s point of view. As a Marine Engineer I have to sail all four years, 3 of them on the Kennedy, and in both cruises I have thus far traveled I can honestly say that in an emergency situation I have no worry in my mind that my safety and the safety of my shipmates was every in doubt. We drill constantly for emergency situations ranging from fire to medical to man overboard to abandon ship. It is my understanding that the survival craft we cary are rated to a great deal more capacity then are ever embarked on the vessel, making the emersion suit carried by the crew a last resort for them if they can not disembark and safely launch their survival craft.

    In addition, all survival craft carried are enclosed, providing shelter from the wind and cold. 76 persons warms of body heat provides the warm, and the Thermal Protective aids (TPAs) issued to all persons embarked act as a waterproof space blanket in this environment, trapping body heat while inside the life raft or boat without taking up the small space left after putting 76 people into what amounts to the same volume of three or four SUVs. If every cadet, teacher, officer, and crew member were issued an immersion suit in that situation its a stretch to picture them all fitting into a lifeboat.

    A closed lifeboat is the safest place to be in an abandoned ship situation, as it provides shelter from all the elements. That being said, Maine Maritime’s ship, the State of Maine, uses open lifeboats. While these are still excellent survival craft, the exposure is much more sever, so the cost of a gumby suit is much more practical vs the off chance a cadet will end up in the water, the only reason I can see this story seems to be alluding to.

    As cadets we train and we drill so that if the unthinkable happens we will all be able to quickly and efficiently, but above all, safely respond and act so that no one is place in a situation of undo risk.

    To echo the wise words of I have retained from Vessel Familiarization and Basic Safety (MT-1111), “Get to your lifeboat, Stay in your lifeboat.”

    1. Kevin O'Halloran says:

      I went to sea for 32 years and was captain for 18. Lifeboats are great when the weather is calm but, if you have a heavy list and rough seas they are dangerous to try and lower and release. The men of the SS Marine Electric had no chance to get into their boats. Two were MMA grads. One survived and one did not. This is why you need these suits. My wife used ride on the ship with me for years. I always told her to put on her survival suit first. Lifeboats can be dangerous if you do not lower and release them every three months as per USCG reguirement. I hope the Academy is at least following this basic SOLAS requirement if they will not provide the suits.

  2. B says:

    I hate to play devils advocate, especially with your real life experience and my lack there of, but it can take mere minutes for limbs to rendered useless in frigid water and for somebody to drown. I’m not doubting the skill and training of anybody on these boats/ships, however it seems a bit naive to assume anybody thrown into the water individually would be noticed immediately without fail within two or three minutes. How could these suits not serve a potential life saving purpose?

  3. Rob says:

    Life Boats can be great life saving devices but lets be serious, what are the chances if this ship were to go down that it would go down in a manner where all life boats and life rafts would be able to be launched and embarked by all 600 cadets? I don’t care how much training you have if there is a list to one side of the ship that life boat will not be coming off the davits, and that would be 5 life boats that wouldn’t be able to be launched. So let me ask the 2/c cadet this? what are you going to do then? your going swimming and I would be willing to bet that you would be wishing you had an immersion suit. Don’t get me wrong, because I am a graduate of the Academy (Deck), training is second to none but I would bet a person with no training and in an immersion suit would survive over a person with training and no immersion suit. Speak for yourself bud not for the Academy, you will learn that when you get out.


  4. 1/C says:

    This story is completely bias and WBZ4 should interview the cadets or faculty members on the training cruise. The Training Ship would not put students at risk by neglecting to give them survival suits. This story does not mention that a crew on a cargo ship is around 24 people. The crew and faculty aboard totals about 100 persons, with an additional 600 cadets on board. this means that the training ship would need to carry 28 times the amount of survival suits than the amount carried on a cargo ship. Many crew members and faculty members have told students that in an emergency situation they would give up their survival suits to cadets in life rafts. Cadets involved in duties during abandon ship which put them at risk of entering the water are also issued immersion suits. The academy is more than happy to allow cadets to bring their own immersion suits with them on the training cruise.
    Going out to sea is a very risky business and parents that send their children to the academy are well aware. The decision to only issue a certain amount of immersion suits was made by well trained professionals. I guarantee the parent who contacted WBZ 4 has never been to sea nor has an idea of what going to sea is all about. I support Mass Maritime 100% in their decision.

    GO BUCS!

  5. Rick Gurnon says:

    Lost in the excessive hyperbole of this story was the fact that MMA is in full compliance with all regulations regarding emergency evacuation and personal survival equipment aboard the USTS Kennedy. The inference was that the cadets were somehow at risk in the event of an emergency while the officers and crew were better protected. That is simply not true.

    A certain number of immersion suits are required by the US Coast Guard for USTS Kennedy. Typically, the Captain designates some officers, staff and crew to be responsible for bringing the issued immersion suit to the lifeboat for use as needed. Other persons (some are cadets) are responsible for bringing blankets, charts, radios and other essential survival gear to their assigned lifeboat. The assigned gear does not belong to the individual; rather it is for all those aboard the lifeboat. In an actual emergency, due to the confined space inside a loaded lifeboat, the immersion suits would likely be left on deck after the boat was successfully launched to float free from the ship. This allows a late comer to the launching area many immersion suits to use, and also provides additional flotation/suits for survivors that may be thrown into the water.

    1. Kevin O'Halloran says:

      Why don’t you share the immersion suits with Maine Maritime Academy? This could be done due to the fact that training cruise periods are at different times. Any person with a fair amount of seatime would much rather jump over the stern with an immersion suit than traverse to the water in a lifeboat. I have released lifeboats over 200 times in my 32 years at sea and it is dangerous. I have been told that during the last training cruise that not only were the lifeboats not lowered and released into the water as per SOLAS and USCG quarterly requirements, but they were never even lowered to embarkation level during the weekly boat drills. Admiral Gurnon you better get a handle on the procedures and do a complete investigation on what is happening on your TS Kennedy. If this is the case then you most certainly need to purchase immersions suits before the next cruise.

      Captain Kevin P. O’Halloran

  6. * says:

    While they comply with legal requirements. Much improvement can be made to many areas of safety aboard the training ship. There are many accidents that happen on the ship and are often explained in mitigated terms without full disclosure of the severity even to the student who may have been the victim in the accident. Lack of immersion suits for all personnel are not the biggest issues.

  7. Marie Burchfield says:

    First, I wish the headline of the article was the last line in the article. Why is MMA being singled out?
    Secondly, MMA is a college. Parents choose to send their kids there, or young people choose it for their education. Either way it is a choice, and one that includes one 6 week trip to sea, for most majors. Kids know this before they ever return the deposit and acceptance letter. Choose another school if you are afraid of a catastrophic accident on a cruise.

  8. abc says:

    Why is it the Parents of MMA Cadets that are always complaining about the school on behalf of their kids? Whether about the Regiment or other factors, ie immersion suits, let the Cadets do it for themselves. They are 18-22 yr olds, who have made THEIR Choice to attend the academy.

    1. 1/C 2 says:

      In my opinion as a 1/C cadet, It is probably the parent of a cadet who has just been informed that they have been dismissed by the Academy. Thus the parent is using this as a last shot at the Academy to in a way “Blackmail” the Academy into either re-enrolling or appealing the dismissal.

      Also I fully agree with the last 1/C in that WBZ 4 owes an apology for this horrid representation of our Academy. Also Ms. Burchfield, I would like to say you bring up a very good point. They know what they are getting into before they get there.

      I hope that WBZ 4 actually reads these comments and realizes that their “I-Team” needs to get their eyes checked among other things. If they wanted a real story, they should go down to the Academy when we are all in semester and see what the cadets have to say to them.

      1. Kevin O'Halloran says:

        It is my understanding that the Freshman or youngies are trained to jump into the water alongside the TS Kennedy in the immersion suits a few weeks prior to the winter cruise. Why even bother to waste time on this exercise if the suits are not provided during the cruise? The school should not only teach shipboard safety but, practice it as well.

  9. * says:

    Exactly Kevin! While the students know what it entails to be a cadet of the academy, cruise and such, it left out about the lack of proper safety protocols. There is a lot that is technically compliant, but there is a lot of non compliant things as well that get swept under the rug or excused away. Things like the life boat lowering and releasing that you mentioned above. It is not common practice for it to be done as per standards. The school talks a lot about safety, but when it comes down to it, students quickly learn, when out in industry that there were a lot of things that should have been done that were glossed over. The immersion suits, legally they are in the clear, but it is not preparing any of the students for the near future.

    1. 1/C 2 says:

      We have lowered and operated all of the life boats and rescue craft during the sea terms I have been on, I am not sure where you are hearing that we do not.

  10. William Doherty says:

    There are options and choices in every aspect of life. Maritime Safety is one of those aspects.
    I have been involved in Marine Safety since graduating from MMA in 1967. The loss of seven of my friends and classmates aboard the SS Pan Oceanic Faith in October of 1967, less than six months after graduation taught me to thoroughly inspect every vessel I ever sailed on before signing on. In 1969, that saved my life when I refused to sign on the SS Badger State less than ten days before she sank with almost all hands aboard.
    Capt O”Halloran makes a case for immersion suits aboard the MMA TS Kennedy, and alludes to the risk of safety of the Cadets. He cites the loss of the SS Marine Electric, a ship so grossly unseaworthy, she should have never left port in the first place which sank with loss of most of her crew.
    He cites the fact that Maine Maritime Academy does provide immersion suits, aboard their ship the State of Maine.
    He does not qualify either statement as it relates to the MMA TS Kennedy. Both the Marine Electric and the TS State of Maine have obsolete open lifeboats. The TS Kennedy has state of the art TSEC (Totally Self Enclosed Lifesaving Capsules); the latest in marine lifesaving technology, providing full protection from the elements in the event of a ship sinking. MMA also provides TPA’s (Thermal protective Aids) for every Cadet aboard.
    The TS Kennedy is fully inspected and certified by the US Coast Guard and in compliance with all current regulations.
    Given the choice of “state of the art” TSEC lifeboats combined with TPA’s suits (Mass maritime Academy TS Kennedy) over immersions suits and open lifeboats boats such as Maine Maritime Academy’s TS State of Maine; Mass Maritime Academy’s is the option provides the higher level of lifesaving.
    I have been a Ship Master since 1980; and have been Safety Manager of the largest US Flag passenger ship line. I am trained and certified in Crowd Management and Crisis Management for large ocean going passenger ships. I retired in 2009; and sailed as an Officer aboard the TS Kennedy this winter during her sea term.
    The ship is safe, fully compliant with all regulations and well manned and safely managed. I wouldn’t sail on her if she wasn’t. Capt O’Halloran should have asked for the input from the Captain of the TS Kennedy (which he did not) before going public with a smear campaign. As a Safety Auditor, he fully knows that any Audit Report is invalid, unless the Captain has the opportunity to provide input and comment on his Audit. This was a Cheap Shot.

    1. Kevin O'Halloran says:

      Captain Doherty,

      Where did I cite the loss of the Marine Electric or the fact that Maine Maritime does provide immersion suits? I never mentioned either of these statements in the report done by the I-Team. Their staff and producer spent several months doing an investigation and research on this subject. Please get your facts straight.

      1. William H. Doherty says:

        “Lifeboats are great when the weather is calm but, if you have a heavy list and rough seas they are dangerous to try and lower and release. The men of the SS Marine Electric had no chance to get into their boats.” Kevin O’Halloran; July 28, 2011 at 8:17 am
        “Why don’t you share the immersion suits with Maine Maritime Academy? This could be done due to the fact that training cruise periods are at different times. Any person with a fair amount of seatime would much rather jump over the stern with an immersion suit ” Captain Kevin P. O’Halloran July 28, 2011 at 9:06 pm


        “during the last training cruise that not only were the lifeboats not lowered and released into the water as per SOLAS and USCG quarterly requirements, but they were never even lowered to embarkation level during the weekly boat drills”

        Captain Kevin P. O’Halloran

        July 28, 2011 at 9:06 pm

        This is NOT true. I was aboard for the 2011 Sea Term or “cruise”, and I commanded a lifeboat during the cruise and weekly drills and inspections were conducted in full compliance with all regulations. Captain William H. Doherty, Master Mariner

      2. Kevin O'Halloran says:

        Captain Doherty,

        As I stated before, I never mentioned either of these statements in the report done by the I-Team. My comments were made in this open forum after this report was aired.

        Kevin O’Halloran

    2. * says:

      as a former cadet, all of the officers and crew are provided with immersion suits and none of the cadets. Also to your suspicion about staff not being able to say anything negative publicly and still be able to keep their jobs? I dont know, but I do know that if a cadet were to speak out against the practices of the academy in a public way they get punished class 2 discrediting the academy.

  11. Just askin... says:

    I am not a mariner, but I ask…

    isn’t it better to have them and not need them, then to need them and not have them?

    just asking…

  12. Parent says:

    Captain Doherty…As a parent, it seems that you may have a biased opinion of this serious matter. By your own admission, you state that you have worked for the Academy, therefore, you may be making positive statements on behalf of the Academy to ensure your continued employment. You state that the TS Kennedy is safe and does not need the immersion suits. If this is the case, then why do merchant vessel require immersion suits? Can life boats be lowered in all weather conditions? Would you rather abandon ship in a life boat or immersion suit in rough weather? Did the Academy provide you with an immersion suit during the last training cruise? Your response would be appreciated.

    1. William H. Doherty says:

      To paraphrase Robert Kennedy paraphrasing George Bernard Shaw “”There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were and ask why not.”

      “There are those who stand by the sidelines taking ;pot shots at people trying to do the next right thing and make trouble….I jump in with both hands and feet and try to make life better for my being here and say why not”

      I NEVER considered sailing on TS Kennedy for Sea Term 2011 as “employment”. I hope I shared some of my over 47 years so seagoing experience with Cadets. It was a labor of love and I loved it..

      1. Kevin O'Halloran says:

        ….I jump in with both hands and feet and try to make life better for my being here and say why not”

        Why not immersion suits!!!

    2. Kevin O'Halloran says:

      Captain Doherty,

      Why don’t you answer these qustion submiited by a parent!

      You state that the TS Kennedy is safe and does not need the immersion suits. If this is the case, then why do merchant vessel require immersion suits? Can life boats be lowered in all weather conditions? Would you rather abandon ship in a life boat or immersion suit in rough weather? Did the Academy provide you with an immersion suit during the last training cruise?

  13. 2/C says:

    It is important to recognize that merchant/cargo ships operate under different regulations than a passenger ship such as the TS Kennedy. Consider a cruise ship. Are there survival suits available for the hundreds of passengers on board? Negative. They do however maintain up to date lifeboats and rafts as a primary means of escape should there be an emergency on board. It is senseless to continue to attack the academy for upholding legal policy. If you have an issue youd best direct your efforts towards the policymakers.

    Also, from a safety perspective, the TS Kennedy conducts numerous lifeboat drills before and during each sea term. The Coast Guard requires that every cadet/crewmen be accounted for at their boat station within 18 minutes of the alarm sounding and they monitor each pre sail drill. If the 18 minute deadline cant be met the ship wont leave. From my perspective the addition of any equipment such as an immersion suit would only serve to hinder response time and efficiency in the event of an emergency considering the number of personel aboard and the EXTREMELY limited space for maneuvering (both on the ship and in life boats.) Keep in mind aslo that everyone aboard is issued a life jacked which they must keep with them. As Admiral Gurnon stated earlier, the survival suits aboard will be abandoned on deck to be used by anyone who couldnt make a boat or whos duties require them to remain aboard the vessel.

  14. William H. Doherty says:

    To the I team

    Shame on you for sloppy journalism. You should have verified your information before going public. You begin with a film clip of Coast guard “Junior Cadets” whatever that means , bobbing around the water near a US Coast guard ship.

    They are wearing what you present to be the “Immersion Suits” alluded to by Captain O’Halloran.

    Had you verified your facts , checked up on your sources, you would have discovered that these US Coast Guard “Cadets” are donned in outdated and no longer USCG Approved “Exposure Suits” which provide significantly lower protection from hypothermia than the USCG Approved “Immersion suits.

    ” According to William Riley of the Survival Systems Branch of the Office of Marine Safety, manufacturers are no longer permitted to produce “exposure” or “survival” suits, effective January 20, 1988. Manufacturers, however, are allowed to sell existing stock.

    Immersion suits are labeled “Immersion Immersion” suits and must carry the Coast Guard approval designation 160.171 (not to be mistaken for the old exposure suit approval designation 160.071). ”

    If outdated non US Coast Guard approved Exposure suits are good enough for everyone in the US Coast Guard; why are you singling out Mass Maritime Academy for being n FULL compliance with the very same agency’s regulations?

    Your whole articles is poorly researched and full of bias and inaccuracies. This is sensationalism and grandstanding on your part and those of you collaborators. What is your real agenda here?

    It should be retracted immediately if you have any desire to maintain your own broadcasting station’s integrity.

    Captain William H. Doherty
    Master Mariner

  15. Jim McCusker says:

    As a person who works in the public safety and a graduate of MMA ’93, I have to say to the parent who made this complaint. Your son or daughter is an adult, it’s time to cut the cords and let them make their own decisions. They choose where they decide to go to school and made the same decisions I made. If they felt any uncertainty in the school, there are six others maritime schools to consider or is this the right career path for your son or daughter.

    Everyday we wake up, we face uncertainty and dangerous situations, and it is called life. Is this parent the same person, who will call a future employer when their child does not get the job they want?

    Jim McCusker

  16. Mike says:

    Clearly, the academy does not want to provide these, as they cost money. And it is very obvious they do not care about the students, as stated by Mr.Bushy, “I don’t think that it adds that level, that increased level of safety. I don’t think it would be worth it.” So the safety of our children mean nothing??? This shows right here the priority that the school has, putting themselves first above everyone else. Very selfish. They are only in it to save money, as with everything else they do at that school. The school does not try to benefit the students; they only do what will bring in more money. That is all they are concerned about, is how much they’re raking in at the end of the day!

  17. Kevin O'Halloran says:

    They do care about some things, such as compelling the cadets to parade around with the Communist Chinese flag every Friday. If they don’t salute this repressive regimes flag while it is being raised, then they could face punishment. This is more important! Unbelievable!!!!!

    They should move the school to Cambridge.

  18. William H. Doherty says:

    My question, Captain O’Halloran is this. What is your real motive here?
    Is it to strike out at Mass Maritime Academy for following proper Diplomatic Protocol; as is the case with the Chinese flag, or is it as you claim, the “safety” of the Cadets?
    If you had these concerns about immersion suits, why didn’t you contact the Academy for clarification, prior to going on TV? The Cadets are not in “imminent danger” in July for a January training cruise.
    Again captain O’Halloran; what is your “real” agenda?
    What has the proper compliance with Diplomatic courtesy, which is what the Academy is following have to do with your “sudden” concern? Mass Maritime Academy is fully complying with all US Coast Guard regulations.
    By the way; you commented that ““during the last training cruise that not only were the lifeboats not lowered and released into the water as per SOLAS and USCG quarterly requirements, but they were never even lowered to embarkation level during the weekly boat drills”
    If; as a “Maritime Safety Auditor” you don’t know that the TS Kennedy “Schadt Harding TSEC (Totally Self Enclosed Capsules) lifeboats “are “embarked” prior to lowering to the water, that is worry some
    . And in fact; as a boat commander; I was responsible for, and did, safely embark my lifeboat’s full compliment during our weekly drills. I don’t know where you are dreaming up you info, but it’s wrong.
    My understanding of the ONLY role of an Auditor is to determine if a vessel is “In Compliance” or “Not in Compliance” with Safety Management or Applicable Regulations. When did that role shift to re-writing regulations? Your action is akin to yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

    1. Kevin O'Halloran says:

      What port did you lower and release the lifeboats last cruise?

  19. Charles Etimighan says:

    Am X midshipman Charles Etimighan from African Maritime Academy,Nigeria. A management cadet’ i need d asistance of your organisation to enable me proceed my industral tranning. This’s my phone no: 07059057954

  20. xyz says:

    quite a bit of back and forth – bottomline, if loss of life can be prevented – why would’nt it be done?
    I have to believe there is a grant some where MMA could apply for. The sea is a dangerous place ALL precautions should be taken at MMA and others!

    Any comments on why MAINE Maritime provides these and Mass does not

  21. William H. Doherty says:

    Answer to the question raised by “xyz” “Any comments on why MAINE Maritime provides these and Mass does not”; is simple.

    The level of lifesaving provided to Cadets aboard Mass Maritime Academy’s training ship TS Kennedy, is significantly higher than the “actual” level of lifesaving aboard Maine Maritime Academy’s training ship “State of Maine.

    In fact; in my professional opinion; if there are ANY Cadets at risk, the cadets from Maine Maritime Academy are at much more risk than those at Mass Maritime Academy.
    Maine’s training ship is ONLY equipped with obsolete, WW II style “open” lifeboats, exposing survivors to much more potential risk from hypothermia.
    Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s training ship Kennedy is equipped with the latest, state of the art, TSEC (Totally Self Enclosed lifesaving capsules) which provided, EXPONENTIALLY higher protection from all elements including hypothermia. Additionally, Mass Maritime cadets and crew are provided with TPA (Thermal protective Aids).
    The reason for not using the bulky immersion suits when boarding a seventy-six person TSEC is that all the survivors would not fit into the lifeboat capsule.
    Massachusetts Maritime Academy is fully compliant with all current USCG rules and regulations. The reason Maine Maritime Academy MUSTY provide these immersion suits is because their lifeboats don’t provide anywhere near the level of exposure/hypothermia protection to the occupants.
    This was a very poorly researched article and full of flaws and misstatements.
    I was the Safety Manager of the largest passenger ship company in the United States. I understand the situation and feel that immersion suits would be counterproductive to the level of lifesaving aboard Mass Maritime Academy’s training ship TS Kennedy.
    You might want to take a closer look at Maine Maritime Academy if you want to look at just who IS at risk.
    Captain William H. Doherty; Master Mariner

    1. Tax Payer says:

      Captain Doherty is right! We should remove all immersion suits from every merchant vessel that has them. They will not add to any level of safety to their crews and are a complete was of money. Take all these suits off the TS Kennedy that is used by the faculty as well! Shame on the I-Team for raising this issue and potentially costing the academy money that can be used elsewhere. Massachusetts is broke!!

  22. William H.oherty says:

    Please don’t misunderstand my comment or opinion. Immersion suits do add to the lifesaving level on many merchant ships applications. What brings added value in one situation can be counterproductive in another. The lifesaving challenges facing survivors on larger “passenger” type vessels are different from the dangers facing crews on minimally staffed merchant ships.
    It is the “whole picture” that is being ignored in the case of the Mass Maritime Academy situation. It is not a matter of “cost”.
    The single largest challenge the Master of the TS Kennedy would face in an “Abandon Ship” disaster would be to muster (assemble) the entire ship’s complement, account for EVERYONE, and make the decision to embark everyone into the state of the art totally self enclosed lifeboats. Time and crowd management will be working against everyone.
    All hands whether they are Cadets, Officers, Faculty or crew will be better served in the safe and expeditious loading and launching of these state of the art; lifesaving capsules. These boats offer EXPONENTIALLY more protection than Immersion suits.
    There is now way you can add an additional burden of distributing and donning immersion suits, account for all hands and load the lifeboats in sufficient time to avoid disaster,
    While immersion suits are wonderful additions to lifesaving in certain applications, there is no way seventy six persons in immersions suits can be loaded into lifeboats in the time you might expect to be available in an abandon ship situation. I doubt everyone would fit if they all had their immersion suits on.
    We learned from Titanic that the most important element is that there are lifeboats for everyone and that you can get everyone in a lifeboat before the ship sinks.

    1. Future Parent says:

      I was thinking of having my son apply to Mass Maritime but, after reading some of these comments about immersion suits, I have second thoughts. I am confused by the contradictions in some of Captain Doherty’s comments!

  23. MMA Parent says:

    Before you walk away from Mass Maritime, take an open house tour of both Maine & Mass. Tour the ship with special attention to the life boats and then ask yourself if the unthinkable happened, which life boat would you rather be on. If you prefer Maines open boats bobbiing in 20′ seas, then Maine is the the logical choice for you.

  24. p2 says:

    At least they have some onboard. Many of the local passenger vessels have none

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