CASTINE (AP) – The annual Maine Maritime Academy training cruise will get under way later this week after its scheduled departure Sunday was postponed because of mechanical problems.

The training ship State of Maine was prepared to depart at 7:30 a.m. with 210 students and 51 officers and crew aboard, but a rocker arm broke when the engine was started. Friends and families were gathered on shore to watch the vessel off when the engine malfunctioned.

The rocker arm was repaired, but academy officials decided to postpone the departure until the engine could be thoroughly inspected. Now it appears the cruise won’t get under way until Wednesday at the earliest.

Maine Maritime Academy president Leonard Tyler said the malfunction gave students a taste of the types of problems they might encounter at sea.

“That’s what this is, a training ship,” he said. “When things go wrong, it enhances their training.”

The annual training cruise takes first- and third-year students to different ports around the world to learn more about life aboard ship, which serves as a floating classroom.

This year, stops are scheduled in Antwerp, Belgium; Tenerife, Canary Islands; and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Because of the war in Iraq and terrorism concerns, students were given training in security and anti-terrorism techniques and will receive more training while the ship is under way. Academy officials earlier canceled a stop that had been scheduled for Turkey.

“Whenever you send 200 young men and women on a training ship to foreign ports, you certainly worry about them,” Tyler said. “But we feel they’ll be safe. They’ve had training on what they should and should not do in foreign ports, and we have an officer on board to provide training for the security of the ship.”

AP-ES-05-12-03 0956EDT



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