Merchant Marine Academy Obtains NASA Recovery Ship
By Space Coast Daily // March 10, 2013
Designated For Training Purposes
BREVARD COUNTY • CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – NASA and the Transportation Department’s Maritime Administration have signed a memorandum of understanding transferring NASA’s solid rocket booster recovery ship, M/V Liberty Star, to the National Defense Reserve Fleet for use as a training vessel at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y.
“Liberty Star served NASA well during the Space Shuttle program,” said Robert Lightfoot, acting associate administrator for NASA. “We know it will greatly benefit the Kings Point midshipmen, and we’re proud that Liberty Star will continue to serve the United States with distinction.”
With the end of the Space Shuttle Program, the two agencies worked together to ensure Liberty Star could continue service as a training vessel for midshipmen at the Merchant Marine Academy.
This agreement is mutually beneficial for NASA and MARAD as the ship will serve as a training vessel at the academy, providing significant merchant marine training value to Kings Point midshipmen.
The vessel, which has been based at Port Canaveral, has dynamic positioning, modern towing capabilities and other features that will expand training opportunities.
NASA will continue to have access to Liberty Star if the agency requires its use and it is available.
“This agreement is a win-win for both Kings Point and NASA,” said Maritime Administrator David Matsuda. “The ship’s high tech equipment and real world capabilities closely mirror what graduates will see entering the maritime work force.”
Liberty Star was launched in 1981 and served as one of two recovery vessels for retrieving the space shuttle’s solid rocket boosters, which were jettisoned about two minutes after launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
NASA still is working to identify a suitable new use for M/V Freedom Star, the other recovery ship.