From President Cropper:

In a world that seems to be dominated by its share of bad news – particularly lately, I got some very good news last week – actually, great news. A compelling project that I (and many others) had been working on for many years (at least eight), just received funding that will make it a reality. We had a good sense that it was coming – even so, the final stamp of approval was a thrill.

Once fabricated, a brand-new, purpose-built training ship will take an honored spot in the waters of the Carquinez Strait next to our campus – and will train thousands of mariners for years to come. Our unique institution has been training future mariners for nearly 100 years but relied on surplus, old and re-purposed ships. This new vessel has been designed and built specifically for training maritime leaders with the latest and greatest technology. It marks a turning point for all the state maritime academies set to receive these impressive new ships – a marked upgrade.

Getting to “yes” on the funding required years of patient advocacy, creation of widespread collaboration between federal, state, and congressional leaders, and the perseverance by the Department of Transportation, the Maritime Administration and the six state maritime academies. I’m so grateful to all the partners for having the vision. I am especially indebted to my colleagues at the helm of the state maritime academies. We banded together, walked many miles through the halls of Congress, developed broad bipartisan support across three presidential administrations, and fought hard for each other’s ship funding for the last five federal fiscal years. It was uphill all the way – and that makes this moment even more special.

Patience is an essential trait to have in the maritime world. Watchfully waiting for weather to pass, getting underway in difficult vessel traffic schemes (like Singapore), managing your crew’s (and your own) get-home-itis – all times when patience is at a premium. These examples and many more demonstrate its value. The patience and perseverance required to secure the funding was a huge undertaking. Our training ship alone is an investment of $320M dollars. Multiply that by five and you get a feel for one of many federal government investments in our national maritime mission and infrastructure – $1.6B. That is a huge commitment; and echoes the support for our academies.

It goes without saying that I’m a huge proponent of maritime education. Our national and state economies and prosperity depend on the maritime industry. We count on efficient, job-rich ports to load and offload the ships. We depend on great engineers, savvy logisticians, and forward-looking policy leaders to sustain what we have and to shape the future. We need oceanographers and scientists to help us do all we do in the most environmentally responsible way. All these crucial roles are filled by maritime academy graduates; people who keep the national maritime transportation system running well. And when things get tough (they do and will), these same graduates kick into gear and run towards the problem.

The new training ship, dubbed the National Security Multi-mission Vessel or NSMV, will play a pivotal role in tough times. Not only is it purpose-built for training mariners, the NSMV has tremendous capabilities to meet the needs of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and regional emergency services agencies in times of wildfires, earthquakes, tsunamis, natural or man-made disasters, and humanitarian relief efforts. These enhanced capabilities include a large helicopter landing area, a roll on-roll off ramp, modularizable workspaces, maneuvering thrusters, and diesel electric integrated drive. Training cadets on these highly capable vessels will prepare them for the modern maritime workforce – and give them hands-on readiness and mindsets for the challenges ahead.

A final thought on patience. Some folks think patience is about waiting – I think they’re half right. Patience is about working unrelentingly while you’re waiting for the fruits of your labor. It’s an act of optimism. That’s what I saw in so many facets of this national effort to bring brand new training ships to our maritime academies for the first time in our country’s history. I’m happy to take a moment to savor that success – and begin the work ahead – with patience. 


Established in 1929, California State University Maritime Academy is the only degree-granting maritime academy on the West Coast. Located in Vallejo, California, the campus offers undergraduate degrees that prepare students for careers in engineering, transportation, international relations, business, and global logistics. Cal Maritime also offers a master’s degree in Transportation and Engineering Management, as well as a number of extended learning programs and courses.