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Sailing School Vessel — SSV Robert C. Seamans — to pay a 6-week visit

The most sophisticated oceanographic research/sailing vessel ever built in the United States will arrive in the territory next month and the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, in collaboration with the Sea Education Association (SEA) is inviting local residents to discover the nautical and marine science possibilities aboard a working Sailing School Vessel (SSV).


The SSV Robert C. Seamans, carrying a crew of 40, will arrive in the territory on Monday, August 11 and depart on September 26. While the vessel is here, the public will be given the chance to tour it free of charge.


The boat will be docked near the Dept. of Marine and Wildlife Resources (DMWR) in Fagatogo, behind the Tool Shop in Malaloa.


The SSV Seamans will be sailing to Pago Pago from the Phoenix Islands Protected Area and will be here for a six-week stay. During that time, the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa will be organizing and hosting alongside the SEA crew, several days of programs for the benefit of the local community.


During the third media coffee chat held at the Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center in Utulei on Monday, NMSAS Marine Operations Coordinator Lt. Charlene Felkley explained that two days (August 13-14) will be set aside for students and instructors from the American Samoa Community College to board the vessel and take a short cruise around the island.


The public will be invited to an open house on Saturday, August 16 from 8a.m. - 12 noon.


Depending on the weather, high school students who register for a tour of the vessel will be given the chance to do so on Monday, August 18.




The Sea Education Association runs two sailing school vessels (SSVs) — the Corwith Cramer in the Atlantic and the Robert C. Seamans in the Pacific. Both are purpose-built for deep ocean science and education.


The SSV Robert C. Seamans, the SEA’s newest vessel, is a 134-foot steel brigantine that was designed by Laurent Giles of Hampshire, England, and built at JM Martinac shipbuilding in Tacoma, Washington.


The Robert C. Seamans is named after former trustee and chairman of the SEA’s board. Improvements in design and equipment, including a wet/dry laboratory and larger library, classroom and computer laboratory enhance the SEA academic program.




According to information from the NMSAS, the SEA and the NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries Office were created at virtually the same time (1971-1972).


“Both share important commonalities in institutional missions, history, and current directions. Both organizations recognize that creating deeper and more diverse cultural engagement with the ocean is essential for the world’s future.”


“Place and people-based sanctuaries foster a diverse ocean constituency by engaging individuals at an early age and throughout their lives. At strategic moments, be it for an afternoon, an overnight, or an entire semester, SEA’s ships and programs can help to fire the imaginations of young people of all backgrounds, irrespective of culture or educational preparation, by providing meaningful personal experiences that link the study and care of the coasts and oceans with their own futures.”


Lt. Felkley explained that Sailing School Vessels host ‘semesters at sea’ programs for college students and it’s not all about sailing and being out in the open ocean. “It covers everything on a deeper level from nautical and engineering to marine science, oceanography and geography.”