Captain's Log    

Captain Wade Howell will be providing updates while underway as connectivity allows. Follow us on social media (@texasmaritime) for publishing alerts or check back weekly for updates.  

Log #8 - August 2, 2023

“It’s good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” - Ernest Hemingway

We are homeward bound, after a great stay in New Orleans where cadets toured the WWII Museum, took in the local history, and enjoyed the recreational aspects of this unique city.  We had a great daylight transit down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, where we once again picked up our training and academic activities.  Celestial navigation projects are getting wrapped up and engine tracings completed.  Due to many aboard graduating after passing the USCG license exam at the end of this term there are groups of cadets and instructors studying different test modules scattered throughout the ship.

While on this leg we have also conducted the MARAD sea trials.  The results are still impressive for this vintage ship.  Maximum speed attained was 18.8kts, crash stop from 12kts in just over 5min, and rudder swing test in 27sec.  All within acceptable parameters.  The ships crew and MARAD surveyor are hard at work on the fiscal 24 maintenance package for the TS Kennedy so that it will continue to serve for at least another 2 years until the TS Lone Star State is delivered and operational.

We are currently slow steaming towards the Galveston outer anchorage where we will anchor on the afternoon of Thursday August 3rd to conduct final anchoring qualifications.  Friday afternoon we will get underway again and steam into the traffic separation scheme and get in line to be at the pilot station in Galveston at 0800 on Saturday August 5th.  We hope to be alongside the Texas Clipper Pier between 0900-1000.

Immediately following the end of sea term we will have the class of 2027 come aboard for "Orientation Week” before the start of the new academic year.

The ship's company has done a great job this summer.  The integration of the five academies worked well, in great part due to the dedicated mariners that staff each academy and travel aboard.   This experience has drawn our schools and therefore the industry closer together, and we all look forward to the increased collaboration as we work to promote careers in the U.S. Merchant Marine.

This will be my last blog post from SST23.  Planning has already begun for SST24 so stay tuned for exciting news! 

Until then, Fair Winds and Following Seas.

Capt. Wade Howell

Master, TS Kennedy

Log #7 - July 19, 2023

“The sea is selective. Slow in recognition of effort and aptitude, but fast in sinking the unfit.” - Felix Riesenberg

 After over 20 years the venerable TS Kennedy suffered her first boiler tube leak.  Right before Puerto Rico it was noticed that we were consuming a lot more boiler make-up water than normal and it was determined that the Starboard boiler had sprung a leak.  We shut down the boiler, opened the burner front, and observed the leak near the top of the “D” section of the boiler. In commercial steamships that are in continual use these types of technical issues are not all that uncommon and the parts to affect a repair are onboard.  Such was the case with us.  We had all the parts and expertise aboard to repair, so we landed in San Juan and repairs commenced.  The boiler was dewatered and cooled, the steam drum and manifold were opened and our engineers set about determining exactly what tube out of 100’s had the issue.  Meanwhile in the machine shop the plugs were being polished and machined.  The repair consists of plugging with tight fitting steel plugs the top and bottom of the tube.  This also requires machining and sanding of the tubes ends, one in the manifold and one in the steam drum.  The steam drum opening was machined sanded, and the plug fit masterfully.  However, the manifold had only a few inches to work in, so progress was infinitesimally slower. 

Three days of continuous effort by our engineers working around the clock and it was time to test fit the plug.  Thankfully, it fit perfectly!  Next, we need to test the repairs. 100psi of air pressure was applied to the system and observed for 10min.  After a couple of tweaks to the access plates the system held pressure perfectly.  Success? Not so fast!  Next the boiler system is filled with water and repressurized to 600psi and observed for 24hrs to see if there is any pressure loss.  Now the videos and pictures of the repairs are sent to the American Bureau of Shipping to achieve their seal of approval.  We then fired up the boiler and were ready to depart San Juan.  I have much praise and thanks for Chief Milton Korn and his engineers for their expertise in completing this repair and doing so while teaching the cadets how to do it.  This was an immeasurable training opportunity.

We will head northwest through the Old Bahama Channel towards the Gulf of Mexico where we will possibly anchor of Tampa one night to conduct anchoring and maneuvering training before taking on the pilot at the mouth of the southwest passage of the Mississippi River at around 0100 on July 26th.  It will be a long night for me on the bridge with the Bar and Crescent Pilots as we navigate upriver to New Orleans.  We anticipate rounding Algiers Point at around 0900 and moor alongside Lower Julia St. Wharf at 1000. 

Log #6 - July 14, 2023

“The cure for anything is saltwater – sweat, tears, or the sea.” - Isak Dinesen

We have no lack of sweat and seawater on the Kennedy that is for sure.  Cadets have been busy toiling away on projects, maintenance, class instruction and the occasional recreation.  This past Sunday we had the first ever Capt. Sean McNeice Memorial Maritime Games, named in his honor.  Each deck company joined an engine company and went head-to-head in a number of Maritime Challenges.  I am excited to say that Alpha-Delta won in a tie-breaker! 

Since departing Tampa later in the afternoon to take on stores and more ice cream we headed north to Mobile for some bunker fuel for the old ship.  While there we had technicians come and replace a bearing on an auxiliary feed pump. After a slight delay in our fuel delivery, we topped of the tanks and headed for San Juan through the Old Bahama Channel.  Movie night continues to be a hit with our own Aggie Astronaut Col. Fossum introducing Apollo 13. 

We will be moored at the cruise ship piers in Old San Juan for a few days for some additional rest and relaxation from the busy shipboard schedule!

While in San Juan our professional engineers along with engineering cadets will be performing maintenance on the Starboard boiler to locate and plug a water leak.  We hope this wont delay sailing as we must cool and empty the boiler then test and restart it, but if it does, we will shift across the channel to another pier for the duration of the maintenance.  This is invaluable hands-on training for our engine cadets!


Log #5 - June 29, 2023

“Red Sky at Night Sailors Delight” 

Used to signal the arrival of good weather, it has its origins in sheep farming and can actually be found in a Bible passage, Matthew 16:2-3. The science behind it signifies that high pressure is to your west and that the next day will usually be a fair-weather day. The reddish color results from scattering of sunlight by suspended particles and aerosols in the atmosphere. The sun’s rays pass through a greater length of atmosphere at sunrise and sunset than at any other time of day. In addition, aerosol, dirt, and dust concentrations are maximized in the lowest layers of the atmosphere when the atmosphere is dominated by sinking air (high pressure). Therefore, we can see vivid red.

After getting out of the way of the tropical systems the rest of the passage has been relatively uneventful as we conduct maneuvering training practicing round turns and Williamson Turns.  While in the Florida Straits our lookouts spotted a derelict overturned vessel.  We circled the vessel close aboard to see any signs of life and seeing none we reported the sighting to the US Coast Guard in Miami. 

Bucking the Gulf Stream for two days we have rounded the Dry Tortugas and are now in the eastern Gulf of Mexico where we will anchor off of Tampa before picking up the pilot at 5 a.m. on July 2nd for a three-hour transit up Tampa Bay to Cruise Terminal 3. 

There will be a slight schedule change after Tampa.  We will be proceeding north to Mobile, AL to dock for approximately 12 hours and to take on fuel for the remainder of our voyage.  This will not affect our arrival in Puerto Rico.


Log #4 - June 20, 2023

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” – Jacques Cousteau

We safely arrived in Curacao and there waiting on the pier was our Ship’s Doctor and the now recovering cadet who was let off in Grand Cayman! Our “greenhorn” first sea term cadets gained their sea legs on the voyage to Curacao, and all are now hooked on the sea.  The cadets and crew have coalesced into a great team and have settled into the ship’s rhythm well.   We have had a great time on this small Dutch tropical isle recovering from pre-cruise and the first leg.  As we depart Curacao, we will head north northeast towards the channel between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico in the Greater Antilles and pass out into the Atlantic Ocean.  We intend to stay well ahead and north of TS Brett as it passes through the Caribbean behind us.  From there we will loop around the Bahamas and then back through the Straights of Florida into the Gulf of Mexico for an arrival in Tampa on July 2nd.  On another note, we had a cadet innocently injure themselves in port and will have to fly stateside for further medical care.  We wish them a speedy recovery. 


Log #3 - June 15, 2023

“And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch it we are going back from whence we came.” - John Kennedy

On Monday morning the USCG Marine Inspection Unit came and inspected the ship and our ability to conduct emergency operations and abandon ship drills. We passed with flying colors and were cleared to sail. 

Tuesday was a frenzied day of completing stores and equipment loading and removing all the trash we could before our Wednesday departure. All told we received around 70 pallets or about 90 tons of food stores and removed 150 cubic yards of trash. We took on 12,000 tons of fuel and 1100 tons of water. All of this to service 477 cadets and 85 crewmembers from five maritime academies.

On Wednesday we sailed on schedule surrounded by a flotilla of parents, friends, and commercial ships bound for Curacao. Our first night at sea we tested out our new flight deck movie theater with a showing of “Top Gun, Maverick.”

This past Saturday we spent a few hours “Not Under Command” while the engineers repaired a small fitting on the secondary condensate pump. “Not Under Command” is a technical designation in the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea. It means that the ship is not able to maneuver as required by the rules and all other vessels must give way. We were in this status as we stopped engines and reduced the steam cycle pressures and temperatures to affect a safe repair. After about three hours we were back underway using engines.

On Monday evening I received a notification from our onboard medical team that one of our cadets was ill and in need of onshore medical support due to the presentation of symptoms. I discussed with our onboard and ashore team and decided to head to Grand Cayman for the best medical options in the region within sailing distance. At around 10 p.m. I turned the ship and increased speed to get the Cadet ashore for support. He was left ashore with one of our ship doctors to receive the care he needs and hope they both can rejoin the ship in Curacao.


Log #2 - June 1, 2023

Make ship ready for sea. 

481 cadets from five separate maritime academies converged on the TS Kennedy over the course of 16 hours. After a good night's sleep and some food in their bellies, the first order of business is safety: All cadets and crew go through safety management system orientation, followed by a series of drills to prepare us for our final examination in front of the United States Coast Guard prior to sailing.  As we progress through our pre-summer sea term, the ship finds its rhythm and settles into routine. 

We look forward to a safe and enjoyable summer as we sail the Caribbean while learning our trade.


Log #1 - May 25, 2023

Greetings from the TS Kennedy. After 18 years, it is great to be on our own dedicated, mission-ready ship!  Work aboard the TS Kennedy continues around the clock to prepare the ship for 480 cadets and 80 crew!  All deck and engine officers are onboard and are working full-time to get the ship ready to sail.

The ship’s engineers and their student workers have lit off the steam plant so the ship’s boilers can “warm up” prior to departure, and they have been going through the ship’s accommodations/decks, making sure all equipment is in good working order. There are hundreds of rooms onboard and many different pieces of equipment, such as plumbing, air conditioning, coffee makers, and many new items brought on board. They have also been conducting requisite safety inspections to ensure the ship passes all of her upcoming regulatory inspections.

The deck officers and their student workers have been feverishly at work transferring supplies and equipment aboard and outdated material off. Ships IT is installing our Starlink internet package, new electronic message boards, new computers in the lab and a PA system on the Helo Deck.  The mates are spending hours in hot lifeboats inspecting supplies, life jackets, survival suits and emergency gear lockers. The mates have made over 70 crane lifts and are conducting routine deck equipment maintenance and inspections.

Preparing to sail any vessel is an enormous task, but getting a 56-year-old, 540-foot training vessel ready to sail with over 500 people onboard presents a unique challenge. There are many “behind the scenes” tasks that get done along with the regulatory/administrative work that goes with operating a large vessel. Much of this goes unnoticed but is critical to our mission every summer.

The crew will continue working hard to prepare the ship, and we look forward to having cadets from all the academies arrive to help us with final preparations - there will be no shortage of things to be done! We have an outstanding team of officers that are ready to teach the cadets the skills they will need to succeed in the industry. 

We look forward to welcoming the cadets aboard.

Don’t forget to visit us on June 3rd for our dock party and open house!


2022 Captain's Logs
2022 Captain's Logs

Log #4 - June 23, 2022


It's a beautiful sunny day, but 48 degrees outside, and this morning it was snowing! 

Last night and early this morning we were rolling heavily in the swells on our port beam that we altered course to the northwest and reduced speed. Right after lunchtime we altered course again to the north and are making our best speed for our scheduled arrival to Iceland on Saturday morning. 

Log #3 - June 16, 2022 

The weather is finally nice. It is sunny with few clouds here at 2000 local. It's 63 degrees with a north/northeast breeze at 10 knots. There are a few white caps on the waves, the swells are getting smaller, and the ship is riding better over the swells on the port bow. Earlier today, we were pitching fore and aft and rolling very easy side to side in about 10-foot seas and swells on the port bow. 

Most cadets and crew are now wearing sweatshirts and/or jackets. The lookouts resemble Ralphie in the Christmas Story with their sweatshirts and jackets. 

We have cadets onboard from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, California Maritime, Great Lakes Maritime and Massachusetts Maritime, all eager to see Iceland in just over a week. By all accounts, morale is high and everyone is excited to see the northern part of the Atlantic. 

Log #2 - June 4, 2022

The weather is nice today off of Georgia. Partly cloudy and cool enough that most of us are wearing a light jacket or sweatshirt. We are going to proceed up the South Carolina/North Carolina coast for 12 hours and then return to anchor offshore for Sunday.

Sunday morning, we'll be doing drills lowering all lifeboats and greasing the wires; barbecue in the afternoon, and movie night on Sunday on the Helo Deck. On Monday and Tuesday, we will be doing more anchor drills for the seniors on the Bridge and Bow. 

Log #1 - May 31, 2022 

Cadets underway for SST '22 are working on their celestial navigation on deck and in cadet mess this evening. I played a game of nautical trivia with cadets during dinner. It was much like the Texas A&M vs. Alabama football game: one-sided. 

We have southeasterly winds at 15 knots and moderate seas from the same direction. With the ship's speed and the breeze, it is a very comfortable 77 degrees and partly cloudy as the sun sets over the western horizon. 

We are closely monitoring the weather forecast and will provide a full briefing in our regularly scheduled update on Thursday. 

2021 Captain's Logs
2021 Captain's Logs

Captain Sean T. McNeice will be providing updates while underway as connectivity allows. Follow us on social media (@texasmaritime) for publishing alerts or check back weekly for updates.  


Log #5 - August 21, 2021

Hurricane Henri is currently forecasted to make landfall on the eastern tip of Long Island between 80 to 100 miles east of New York City. We are continuing with our anchorage plans for the safety of the ship and all those onboard.

The TS Kennedy will be anchored in the Bay Ridge Anchorage in the protected New York harbor by 1600 today (8/21) and will remain there until Tuesday (8/24) morning.  The port of New York/New Jersey is currently in condition X-Ray and no severe weather plans are required to be activated. We will have a second anchor available and engines available should they be needed. Should we need tug assistance we have lines rigged and ready to go. 

Currently, weather conditions are not forecast to be above 20kt gusts with sustained winds of less than 20 kts in the harbor with rain.  Should conditions deteriorate, we will take additional action.

The storm is 330Nm SSE of us off of Cape Hatteras. 

We have moved our BBQ, scheduled for tomorrow, to this evening to avoid rainy weather. We will be hosting a live stream, provided we have adequate connectivity, on the Texas A&M Maritime Academy Facebook Page this evening around 1730 ET. 


Log #4 - August 20, 2021

Howdy from the TS Kennedy.

We have been watching Hurricane Henri closely over the past week. We have adjusted our course and will be arriving In New York Harbor a day early – tomorrow, Aug. 21. The closest point of approach for Hurricane Henri appears to be 190 nautical miles from us when we are anchored at the Bay Ridge Flats anchorage with the Statue of Liberty in view.

We are currently 65 nautical miles off the coast of New Jersey and rolling gently in the Southeastern swells. It’s overcast and raining lightly. Our course is 250 true making good 10.2 knots. We anticipate being able to drop anchor around 1600(4 PM) tomorrow.

This weekend, weather permitting, we will be hosting a BBQ on the helo deck with the beautiful Brooklyn skyline as our backdrop. If connectivity allows, we will host a livestream. Stand by for those details.

We are scheduled to pick up anchor at 1000 on Aug. 24th and sail the East River as we conclude our final days of the 2021 Summer Sea Term.


Log #3 - August 11, 2021


We're currently anchored off the coast of Cape Cod and are still on schedule to dock in Boston on Friday. 

We sailed last night into a traffic separation scheme (TSS) during a foggy night, sounding the horn every two minutes. Our cadet duty officers helmed the vessel alongside our licensed watch officer and anchored the TS Kennedy at seven shots of chain at the water's edge. The fog cleared as we came to the top of the Cape Cod peninsula, and we spied none other than the TS General Rudder pulling into Provincetown at 0530 this morning. 

Cadets spent the afternoon enjoying cell phone service and took in the bay full of other vessels, notably a few schooners and a three-mast gaff-rigged sloop. Many are opting for sweatshirts in this weather - 15 knots of wind at 75 degrees, with a slight wind chill factor pushing it into the 60s. It's practically winter for Texans! 


Log #2 - July 27, 2021

Howdy again from aboard the TS Kennedy!

We are currently steaming northwest through the Gulf of Mexico. The weather has been warm and sunny, giving us calm seas and warm days. We’ve been fortunate to greet some early morning visitors recently. Saturday, we sailed alongside the TS State of Maine for approximately 30 minutes off the coast of Cuba. We also had a pod of 20+ dolphins surfing off the bow early yesterday morning.

Yesterday we conducted weekly drills, including fire and abandon ship. Everyone onboard mustered at their designated locations while a team of cadets worked to extinguish a simulated fire in the purser’s office on the Main Deck.

After a busy morning, cadets took advantage of more relaxing opportunities, including fishing off the stern, barbecuing and playing yard games on the Helo Deck. They ended the day with a “Casino Night” in the cadet mess.

As we approach the Texas coast over the next few days, plans are to sail near the reefed TS Texas Clipper off South Padre Island. Today we will also be dropping meteorological buoys throughout the afternoon, after which we will head west toward Brownsville, Texas.

I expect excitement onboard will continue to grow the closer we get to Galveston.


Log #1 - July 11, 2021

Howdy from aboard the TS Kennedy!

We’re currently north of Jamaica. Weather has been holding steady and we’re experiencing a tropical breeze. While we sailed by some ship traffic at “Malfunction Junction,” a point off the coast where incoming ships divert to Texas ports, traffic has been relatively uneventful. We anticipate rougher seas in the coming days and are fortunate to be on the TS Kennedy which offers a smooth ride.

The past few days have been spent working out the kinks in rotations and operations as cadets are becoming more familiar with their roles onboard. They are attending classes, gaining hands-on experience, working on sea term projects, and taking advantage of the numerous opportunities on board to ward off boredom, such as karaoke, corn hole, ping pong, basketball, gaming and movies; I’ve also been told that a few fish have been reeled in on the stern.

Spirits are high and morale is good. I’ve had more than a few cadets comment on how good the meals have been onboard. All of us enjoyed the BBQ on the helo deck yesterday for dinner.

You can expect another update from me once we anchor off of St. Thomas.