A nearly two-month deployment to assist with hurricane recovery ended Tuesday when the training ship Empire State VI returned to its home port in Throgs Neck, N.Y., at the State University of New York Maritime College.
The 565' vessel arrived at SUNY Maritme's Fort Schuyler campus Tuesday morning accompanied by the Moran Towing tugs Jonathan C. Moran and Miriam Moran. Tying up marked the ship's return from its Sept. 1 activation by the U.S. Maritime Administration, first to assist Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts in Texas.
As 2017 grew to the most destructive U.S. hurricane season since 2005, the Empire State VI was diverted to Florida after Hurricane Irma’s landfall, and then two weeks later to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria ripped across the island.
At both locations, the ship was used to provide power, housing, food and water to emergency relief workers. Using the ship as a dormitory for Federal Emergency Management Agency workers and other responders helped free up local hotel rooms for people displaced from their homes by the storm.
Statewide donations from New Yorkers also brought 46 pallets of bottled water, food and other items for victims of the hurricane, half raised by the SUNY community and half by a campaign through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
The Empire State VI is used by SUNY Maritime throughout the year as a platform to educate and train future maritime industry professionals. The ship is owned by the Maritime Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation. In times of national need, the federal government can activate the ship to assist with response and recovery efforts. Empire State was activated to respond to Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“Maritime College is honored and proud to have had the opportunity to assist in these recovery efforts,” said Rear Adm. Michael Alfultis, president of SUNY Maritime, in a statement announcing the return.. “The past two months demonstrate the value of the state maritime academy training ships in times of national need such as these, as well as training America’s future mariners.”
In addition to the crew of professional mariners, including eight SUNY Maritime alumni and Capt. Rick Smith, SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson and other university officials boarded the ship near Staten Island for the welcoming trip up the East River.
“This is a proud moment for Maritime College, SUNY, and all of New York state as we welcome home the crew of the Empire State VI,” said Chancellor Johnson. “Every individual on this ship selflessly put their personal lives on hold for the past two months – in many cases leaving their family and friends – to support the relief efforts and begin to repair the damage caused by multiple hurricanes in the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean.”