Mass. Maritime Academy Training Ship Could Aid in Hurricane Dorian Response

As Hurricane Dorian crawls up the East Coast, a ship on the coast of Cape Cod could soon be headed south to help with relief.

The T.S. Kennedy is typically used a training ship at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, but when the federal asset is needed, they deploy. The crew was told to be on standby for Dorian last week and could be en route within days of getting the call.

The 550-foot-long ship could house roughly 600 first responders and feed close to 1,000 a day.

"We're self-sustaining so we have our own water, food, everything," Captain Michael Campbell said.

The ship can be a lifeline to island nations. The services on board proved to be critical when the crew was stationed in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

The timing of Dorian is less than ideal with the school year starting. Seventy senior cadets are moving onto the ship to live for the semester.

"If we get the green light, they're moving off, and the only question is where to," Massachusetts Maritime President Francis McDonald said.

Even as Dorian is getting weaker, McDonald is already working on contingency plans for alternative housing. Cadets would help stock the ship with supplies before it heads out.

If activated, it would not be a typical start to the school year for students at the academy, but changing course in order to provide aid is one of the many lessons they teach.

"It's a fantastic experience for the cadets, for them to get a sense of what happens in the real world," McDonald said. "If we get the call from the federal government, we're ready to roll."

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