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Texas A&M Training Ship Rescues Three People Aboard a Drifting Boat

Texas A&M
Courtesy Texas A&M Maritime

Published Jun 9, 2024 9:49 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Saturday, cadets aboard Texas A&M Maritime Academy's training ship had an unexpected opportunity to carry out a real-life rescue at sea. 

The TS Kennedy was under way from Texas to Florida in the central Gulf of Mexico when cadets on lookout duty spotted a small, disabled vessel. It was adrift and in distress, so the Kennedy's officers coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard to carry out a rescue. The training ship has a full crew of licensed mariners in addition to the cadets on board, and the professional crew carried out a rescue. 

“Shortly after sunrise, a small black object was spotted in the distance. Maintaining a close watch, I could see the shape of a small vessel through my binoculars as we got closer,” said Kai Etheridge, one of the cadets who spotted the distressed boat. “We passed the vessel on our starboard side, and all of a sudden, three heads popped out of the small craft and started waving.”

The three people aboard the disabled vessel had been adrift for 15 days, making their survival an impressive feat. They were provided with medical care and were transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard on Sunday for safe return to shore.

“I’ve had 20-plus years at sea, and I’ve only experienced one other incident such as this,” said Captain Wade Howell ’02, master of the academy’s training ship. 

TS Kennedy has 171 students on board for the school's summer semester at sea. The annual trip gives cadets an opportunity to gain valuable sea time and experience, which they can use when applying for their third mate's license. It is also a practical way for them to apply their classroom learning to the real world before they embark on a maritime career. 

Their next stop is Fort Lauderdale, then onwards to Quebec, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, with two days in each port. The cadets and the 130-strong crew of mariners and educators will return to home port in Galveston in August.