TS Empire State (T-AP 1001)
Training Ship Empire State VI (T-AP 1001) is the training ship of the State University of New York [SUNY] Maritime College, a four-year college located at Fort Schuyler, NY. Travel on TS Empire State VI is an essential component of the Maritime experience. Throughout the academic year, Maritime cadets train to operate the Empire State VI, using the ship as a living laboratory for the college’s various Engineering, Naval Architecture, Marine Environmental Science, and International Transportation and Trade programs. Each summer, college cadets travel across the world, learning about the maritime industry and the operations of the ship while acting as the ship’s crew.
The oldest and largest maritime school in the country, SUNY Maritime College prepares students for careers in the maritime industry, government, military, and private industry. Maritime graduates experience an extremely high placement rate and are often employed in careers of their choice within three months of graduation. A four-year college located at historic Fort Schuyler in Throggs Neck, New York, SUNY Maritime offers undergraduate degree programs in Engineering, Business Administration/Marine Transportation, Marine Environmental Science, Humanities, International Transportation and Trade, and a Master’s degree in International Transportation Management. The College's extensive waterfront property allows berthing of the College training ship, Empire State VI, several research craft, and a training coastal tanker as well as a waterfront activities center/boat house. The waterfront is home for its fleet of 420s, Lasers, FJ's, and offshore racing yachts.
The Empire State VI is a 17,160-ton ship, 565 feet in length, with a beam of 76 feet. Her geared turbine develops 17,250 horsepower and a cruising speed of 22 knots. During the academic year, the training ship is berthed at Fort Schuyler. Facilities are available on board for laboratory sessions in marlinspike seamanship, marine engineering, communications and electric aids to navigation. The Meteorology and Oceanography laboratory is well equipped to take complete sets of observations in these fields. During the summer months the ship is steamed on the annual training session for two months straight out on the sea. The engineering power plant on the ship is extensively instrumented so that it can be docked and sea-trailed. Recent ports of call have included Genoa, Italy; Piraeus, Greece; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Dublin, Ireland; Rota, Spain; London, England; Hamburg, Germany and Teneriffe, Canary Islands among many other interesting ports.
The Maritime College has historically operated a training ship to support the licensing program. The cost of operating EMPIRE STATE VI is a large component of the College operating budget. As government subsidies have declined, other funding sources are necessary to support the vessel. As a result of commitments to students who are currently enrolled, Maritime College has the obligation to retain EMPIRE STATE VI through the third voyage of the Class of 2003. Thus, the vessel must remain until July 2002. This provides planning time to address and resolve the future of a dedicated training ship at the College. Working with SUNY, the College has begun efforts to pursue alternative funding possibilities for the training ship. These efforts will be undertaken with the full participation of all College constituencies. They include the generation of revenue through alternative uses of the ship while moored at the campus which do not conflict with its training mission (a Maritime Administration rule). Also under consideration is the embarkation during training cruises of other maritime academy students for sea time and underway training.
The TS Empire State VI was laid down as SS OREGON at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Newport News, Virginia. The vessel was built for States Steamship Company and was launched on September 16, 1961. She was delivered to her owners in February of 1962 for service in the Pacific trades. In the 1970s, the vessel was purchased by Moore McCormack Lines for the South American trade. She was renamed MORMACTIDE and operated by that company until 1982 when she was taken out of service. The vessel changed ownership on more time. United States Lines purchased the vessel but did not have the opportunity to operate her. She was turned over to the Federal Government and laid up in the Reserve Fleet in the James River in December 1982. In November of 1988, the MORMACTIDE was taken under tow through the St. Lawrence Seaway to Bay Shipbuilding Corporation in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. There the vessel was converted to a public nautical training ship and re-named EMPIRE STATE VI. She was delivered to the State University of New York Maritime College on December 31, 1989.
The new ship replaced the Empire State V, the former T-AP 196 Barrett, which had been laid down as President Jackson (II). The first training ship of the SUNY Maritime College, founded in 1874 as the New York Nautical School, was the sloop USS ST. MARY'S. In 1907, with the advent of modern technology, the ship was replaced by the gunboat USS Newport, which was in turn replaced in 1931 by EMPIRE STATE (I).
The USS Empire State, which served as a training ship for the New York State Maritime Academy from 1931 through 1946, was the former USS PROCYON (AG-11). One of the famous "Hog Islander" class vessels, PROCYON was built in 1919 as SHAUME. She served as flagship of the Navy's Pacific Fleet Supply Train from 1923-1930. She had a steam turbine and the latest in navigation equipment. At the beginning of World War II, the Empire State was reassigned to the US Maritime Commission, renamed the "AMERICAN PILOT" and served as a training ship for other maritime schools as well as the New York State Maritime Academy.
TS Empire State II, which served as a training ship for the New York State Maritime Academy from 1945 through 1956, was the former USS Hydrus (AKA 28). With twin screws, two engine rooms and turbo-electric power the HYDRUS built in 1944 was considered an ideal replacement for EMPIRE STATE I.
TS Empire State III, which served as a training ship for the New York State Maritime Academy from 1956 through 1959, was the former USS MERCY (AH-8). Built in 1942, MERCY served as a hospital ship with the Fifth and Seventh Fleets in the Pacific. Her spaces were more suitable for the growing College student body than the former cargo transport TS Empire State II.
TSES Empire State IV, which served as a training ship for the New York State Maritime Academy from 1959 through 1973, was the former USNS HENRY GIBBINS (T-AP-183). As Empire State III began to show signs of wear and tear as a result of the extensive use of the vessel in World War II, a replacement was sought. The USNS Henry Gibbins, an Army transport, launched in 1942 as the Biloxi was delivered to the Army Transportation Service on February 27, 1943. She was renamed Henry Gibbins saw service in the European Theater during World War II. She was made famous in the book Haven which recounted the memorable voyage in 1944 when she carried 1000 Jewish Refugees from Italy to the United States under an order signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In 1950, she was transferred to the Navy's Military Sea Transportation Service and was used extensively as a troop transport until 1959. In 1959, she was transferred to the Maritime Administration, renamed Empire State IV and assigned as the newest training ship for the New York Maritime College. She had excellent spaces for training ship use and also had two geared turbines.
On January 3, 1994, the SS Empire State VI, then serving as the school ship for the State University of New York Maritime College, was activated from the Ready Reserve Force to support the withdrawal of American forces from Mogadishu, Somalia. This is believed to be the first use of troop ships to transport American forces since 1968.
In September 2005 SUNY Maritime College’s 17,000 ton, 565 foot training ship, the Empire State VI was provisioned by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) National Defense Reserve Fleet to provide housing and support for port workers and petroleum industry workers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The Empire State VI will be utilized to berth up to 700 ConocoPhillips employees and contract workers as they begin repairs on strategic infrastructure and facilities at ConocoPhillips’ oil refinery in Belle Chasse, Louisiana.
The U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration sent the Training Ship Empire State VI to Key West, Florida, to assist in Hurricane Irma recovery efforts. Empire State VI and its crew of professional mariners arrived in Key West on 17 September. “The damage from Hurricanes Irma and Harvey has been shocking, and the college is proud that our training ship has been activated and sent to where it is most needed,” said Rear Adm. Michael Alfultis, president of SUNY Maritime. “The severity and scale of these tragic storms has shown the vital need served by the nation’s fleet of training ships, and underlines the importance of finding suitable replacements for them.”
On Sept. 1, MARAD activated SUNY Maritime College’s Empire State VI as well as the Kennedy, Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s training ship, and the General Rudder, the training ship at Texas Maritime Academy, for a pre-scripted Federal Emergency Management Agency mission to support hurricane relief. The ships’ initial mission is to last for 30 days, with an option to renew for an additional 30 days. Once moored, the three training ships can provide power, housing, food, clean water and berthing to over 1,300 federal first responders, thereby freeing up local hotels for displaced residents.