August 04, 2020

Russians, MMA plan exchange

CASTINE — Two “MMAs” will share more than initials this spring when students from Maine and Russia join in an educational exchange.

William B. Eisenhardt, vice president for student affairs at Maine Maritime Academy, said Friday that midshipmen and professors from Castine will be host to five students and two faculty members from the Makarov Maritime Academy of St. Petersburg when the training vessel State of Maine visits the Russian port in May.

To complete the exchange, 10 MMA students will join the crew of the Mir, a 300-foot-long tall ship, scheduled to call on Castine in July. The Mir, a training vessel owned by the Makarov academy, will be in New York City for the Christopher Columbus Quincentennial this summer.

As a further development in the promotion of interacademy relations, MMA will accept a Makarov professor or an advanced student into the academy’s graduate program in maritime management. Efforts are being made to locate a U.S. corporation to sponsor the candidate’s tuition costs.

Eisenhardt said the collapse of the former Soviet state has revamped the jurisdiction of many world shipping lanes, underscoring the need for greater international cooperation in maritime affairs.

“We feel strongly that now that this is much more of a world economy and to continue this relationship is in the best interests of both of our colleges,” he said. “Our students are going to have to compete in an economy and maritime world that is far more global and more open to a free-market economy than in the past.”

Two of the Makarov academy’s instructors, Rear Adm. Ivan Kostylev and Cmdr. Andrey Kalinichenko, have been visiting at the academy since late last month. Both men are scheduled to leave the United States on April 18.

Both officials expressed concern over the changing political scene in the former Soviet Union and the impact it could have on international merchant marine activities.

“One of the problems (stems from) the relationships between our shipping companies and the new governments,” said Kostylev, speaking through an interpreter. “The situations at some of these ports is very difficult now and not just for our own country but for the all the shipping companies of the world.”

MMA’s relations with the Makarov academy has its beginnings in 1974 when the school was host to the State of Maine. A second visit was made in 1989.

Other highlights of the two academies’ association include a visit by the St. Petersburg Balalaika Orchestra last year and the tall ship Druzhba’s cruise to Castine in 1990.

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