The Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) is welcoming the recent donation of a TAGU supplier vessel to the institution, which will boost capacity for training and marine research.
“I am happy we have it,” Executive Director of the university’s Centre for Blue Economy and Innovation, Ambassador Joachim Schmillen, told JIS News.
“We have marine biotechnology students, we have the cadets… all of them should make use of it. It is something you can be trained on – a small vessel but fully operational,” he noted.
“I see also the possibility of cooperation with other universities in Jamaica and in the wider region, as this is something that gives us a new, special opportunity, which we did not have before,” he added.
Fresh from Germany
The small sea vessel, donated by German engineering company, TAGU, was sailed from Montego Bay to Kingston on International Maritime Day, September 26.
The CMU crew on board was led by Captain Christopher Murray and Ambassador Schmillen on the one-day journey.
The 16-metre-long vessel, which was previously used by TAGU to conduct hydrographic surveys for underwater construction projects, was generally underutilised over the last two years, resulting in superficial corrosion and faded paint.
Ambassador Schmillen said that the process to restore the vessel provides an ideal training opportunity for CMU students.
“It means that our students will have a lot of opportunities to understand what maintenance means – grinding, removing rust, priming, painting…we are a university where we educate and train people, especially in this field, so we want to give our students the opportunity to train and do it on a real boat,” he pointed out.
Ambassador Schmillen further explained that while the vessel can still be used in its original capacity as “a marine bio-lab, measuring water quality and water temperature”, it is also useful for the education and training of hydrographic specialists, along with several potential projects coming out of the Centre for Blue Economy and Innovation.
“It is very nicely equipped, even for doing some environmental surveys or work. We would like to have different modules on the boat so that when we need something, we will attach it. So, if we’re going out and say collect debris, we want to install something with the purpose to collect the waste in the [Kingston Harbour], especially heavy loads and other things,” he noted.
Ambassador Schmillen, who is also Vice President of Global Affairs at the CMU, said there is also potential to assist the Ministry of Tourism in its efforts to tackle the sargassum seaweed affecting the island’s beaches.
“There is interesting new technology where they are using boats to collect the seaweed and you sink it. But you have to collect it before it reaches the beach and you’ve got to take it somewhere in the open sea. It is a big problem, especially for the regions, which are dependent on tourism, and I’m looking forward to having a module on the vessel where we can deal with this problem,” he continued.
The TAGU Supplier vessel, temporarily named the CMU 003, now bears the university’s flag.
It can transport a maximum of 14 persons and has a multibeam and single-beam echo sounder, Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, and an integrated motion sensor.