Public Affairs, The California State University

Cadets Return from Summer at Sea

by Elizabeth Chapin

The California Maritime Academy’s annual summer training cruise takes cadets on an incredible educational journey as they prepare for careers in the maritime industry.

Ryan Kozlowski and Jonathan Jordan were among the 320 cadets to participate in this summer’s training cruise aboard the Training Ship Golden Bear—the Academy’s 500-foot, 17,000-horsepower vessel—and return with one of the most valuable educational experiences in their field.

The two-month voyage took cadets to five ports: Honolulu, Lahaina, Cabo San Lucas, Seattle and Portland. Cadets were also visited by CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White when the cruise brought them to the Port of Long Beach and Catalina Island for some training exercises.

Under faculty and staff supervision, Jordan, Kozlowski, and fellow cadets were responsible for running the entire ship—including navigating, repairing and overseeing the engines, and all other maintenance. In order to get a well-rounded learning experience, the cadets alternated between operating the ship and classroom instruction.

Jordan, a marine engineering technology major, was required to rotate four-hour “standing watch” shifts in the engine room. Engineering cadets are responsible for the machinery and operations of the ship.

“The engine of a ship needs around-the-clock management,” Jordan said. “At first, that amount of responsibility alone was surreal.”

But with time in the Golden Bear’s high-tech engineering lab—which includes labs for electric, power, diesel simulation, and an instructional support office—Jordan and fellow cadets master the engineering feat of simply keeping a ship at sea.

Marine transportation major Kozlowski served as a “deck” cadet—meaning his focus was on lines and navigation. In other words, getting the ship where it needs to go.

The Golden Bear is equipped with state of the art simulation labs for this purpose, too. They simulate real world scenarios encountered by transportation vessels, some of them too dangerous to recreate. They also accommodate more cadets because continuous faculty supervision is not needed, says Cal Maritime’s Engineering and Technology Department Chair Robert Jackson.

“The Golden Bear is likely the only training ship in the world with these type of simulators,” Jackson said. “It’s an expensive and rare resource and we make sure it’s used to its full capacity.”

Although students get valuable time in the simulators, they also navigate the actual ship, Jackson says. In fact, every cadet must take control of the massive 15,821-ton ship and maneuver it through an intricate figure-eight style turn.

“It took three days for all 320 of us to complete the turn,” Kozlowski said. “It was a great learning experience and opportunity for all of us to show what we’d learned.”

Since time at the ports provide critical opportunities for students to learn all of the necessary techniques that come along with docking the vessel, there isn’t a lot of downtime when in port. Jackson says that cadets only get about a day on land for each port stop before they must get back to business. After all, it’s about the journey, not the destinations.

Kozlowski says there’s no such thing as “cabin fever” on the Golden Bear.

“By the end of the voyage, I felt like I was on this 500-foot ship with 380 of my best friends, we’d accomplished a lot.”

Although Kozlowski and Jordan are beginning their senior years, both already have job offers lined up. This isn’t unusual. Cal Maritime cadets enjoy a 94 percent placement rate. In fact, many secure positions as early as sophomore year.

The high demand for Cal Maritime graduates is a testament to this intensive specialized curriculum and training.

“The cadets pull together to work as a team, which is why they are successful,” Jackson said. “It’s that camaraderie that really benefits the learning experience.”