Friday, December 16, 2011

Winter Holiday Hours at the Stephen B. Luce Library

In observation of the Winter Holiday, the Stephen B. Luce Library will follow the schedule below:

  • Saturday, December 17: Open 1000 to 1300
  • Sunday, December 19: Closed
  • Monday, December 20 - Friday, December 23: Open 0830 to 1200, 1300 to 1630
  • Saturday, December 24 - Monday, December 26: Closed
  • Tuesday, December 27 - Friday, December 30: Open 0830 to 1200, 1300 to 1630
  • Saturday, December 31 - Monday, January 2: Closed
  • Tuesday, January 3 - Friday, January 6: Open 0830 to 1200, 1300 to 1630
  • Saturday, January 7 - Sunday, January 8: Closed
  • Monday, January 9: Open 0830 to 1200, 1300 to 1630
  • Tuesday, January 10: Normal Library Hours Resume (Open 0830)
We wish the entire academic community of Maritime College a very happy holiday season and look forward to working with you in the New Year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Happy Holidays from the Stephen B. Luce Library!

In celebration of the Holiday Season, the Stephen B. Luce Library has created a holiday greeting page to wish all those affiliated with SUNY Maritime College -- whether they are students, alumni, faculty, staff, neighbors, family, or friends -- a wonderful holiday season.

View our wintry wishes, and have a great Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Extended Library Hours During Finals Week

As a service to Maritime College students during finals week, the Stephen B. Luce Library will offer extended open hours through this Thursday, December 15. The library will be open from 8:30 am to 11:00 pm daily so that students may come for a quiet place to study, work on group projects, and access resources needed to study for exams and complete final projects. A librarian will be on duty to assist with information research and access to course reserve materials.

Some helpful tips for students planning to study in the library this week:

  • Study carrels are available on both the first and second floors of the library
  • No food is allowed in the library, and any drinks brought in must have a cap or a lid
  • Course reserve materials may be checked out for four hours but must remain in the library

The Stephen B. Luce Library wishes everyone good luck and best of results in your final exams.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Library Director and Department Chair Constantia Constantinou Appointed to the Rank of Distinguished Librarian

Stephen B. Luce Library proudly announces that Ms. Constantia Constantinou has been appointed as SUNY Distinguished Librarian, the highest rank conferred upon SUNY librarians. This is a remarkable accomplishment for Ms. Constantinou as there were only three other Distinguished Librarians in the history of SUNY.

SUNY news release on Ms. Constantinou’s appointed as Distinguished Librarian

In extending its distinguished ranks to the library faculty, SUNY recognizes the accomplishments of its entire faculty, and also assumes national leadership within the academy by becoming the first university system to so encourage and foster the full potential of the faculty status of librarians.

The Distinguished Librarian is a prestigious tenured University rank that is awarded to librarians whose contributions have been transformational in creating a new information environment by providing access to information, sharing or networking information resources, and fostering information literacy. The Distinguished Librarian rank honors and promotes the achievement of personal excellence, groundbreaking professional progress, and wide-ranging benefit to the academic community. Receiving this rank today is:

Constantia Constantinou has been the Director of the Stephen B. Luce Library at the Maritime College since 2001. She has served on the SUNY Council of Library Directors (SCLD) and represented SCLD on the CUNY Council of Chief Librarians and to the New York State Higher Education Initiative. As a Fulbright Scholar (2011) and as a Fulbright Senior Specialist (2005), in the country of Cyprus, she has accomplished what no other scholar or librarian has been able to do since 1974 by bringing the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot academic communities closer through overcoming ethnic and political conflicts. To achieve this, Ms. Constantinou established collaborations among institutions, lectured and trained librarians in information literacy, enabled the membership of the University of Cyprus into OCLC global bibliographic network, and promoted the establishment of the Cyprus National Library Consortium. Ms. Constantinou’s scholarly work and presentations in Croatia, Greece, Turkey, China, Korea, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States have enhanced the principles of information literacy by setting exemplary standards within worldwide maritime universities.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Simon Winchester on Atlantic at the Luce Library

On Thursday, November 17th, fifty students, faculty, and alumni gathered in the Luce Library for a lecture by bestselling author Simon Winchester on his latest work, Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories. Given that SUNY Maritime's student body traverses the Atlantic Ocean every summer, the discussion was bound to be one of the most relevant, exciting, and interesting of recent memory. And Mr. Winchester did not disappoint.

He explained that the writing for Atlantic contrasted greatly with his composition of an unsuccessful parallel book he had written about the Pacific Ocean. "All I knew was, I had to write about the Atlantic in a different way than the Pacific, which was a total disaster." Inspiration struck, however, through an anthology of poetry, edited by British politician David Owens, entitled Seven Ages: Poetry for a Lifetime. Owen uses Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man speech to give the anthology its structure; Winchester decided on a similar tack.

"It occurred to me that the structure of Shakespeare's Seven Ages that worked so well for Owen might also work very well for our relationship with the Atlantic," he noted. Therefore, the book is comprised of seven chapters (as well as a prologue), each of which relates a different aspect of humankind's relationship with the Atlantic. For example, a chapter on Shakespeare's "lover" age focuses on the poetry, literature and artwork relating to the Atlantic Ocean; the following chapter, the "soldier" age, details the Atlantic's many famed battles.

Through this framework, Winchester was able to narrate such disparate elements of the sea as the age of exploration, the business of shipping, erroneous human beliefs about the sea, the effect of pollution, developments in oceanic cartography, the oceanic fishing industry, the history of piracy, and much more.

Simon Winchester's lecture at the library was triggered by a lone tweet from one of the Luce librarians which mentioned Mr. Winchester, a fact which seems particularly appropriate given the subject matter of the lecture. As Winchester noted, humankind's relationship with this most storied ocean has always had an unpredictable, serendipitous, and surprising nature, from man's first discovery of oysters as an edible mollusc on the shores of South Africa, to the heroic rescue of a marooned group of eighty British people on Africa's Skeleton Coast during World War II, to the way the British won World War I's Battle of the Atlantic.

After the event, Mr. Winchester stayed on to meet the audience and sign copies of Atlantic. Students exchanged stories of Atlantic adventures on the Empire State with the author, who was very receptive to questions and further discussion of the book. For many, this moment of personal engagement was the highlight of the event.

Simon Winchester's Atlantic is available in the circulating collection of the Stephen B. Luce Library; our newly signed copy will be transferred to the Three Star archives collection. Students interested in Winchester's work may also check out some of his other books from the Luce Library, including Krakatoa and The Map that Changed the World.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Winchester to Speak at Luce Library

Bestselling author Simon Winchester, author of popular and accessible histories such as Krakatoa, A Crack in the Edge of the World, and The Professor and the Madman, is set to give a book lecture on his latest work, Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories this Thursday, November 17 at 3:15pm at the Stephen B. Luce Library.

Winchester's book tells the story of the world's most traversed ocean in inventive fashion: through seven chapters which parallel Shakespeare's famed Seven Ages of Man speech from As You Like It. In the first chapter, for example -- "First the infant, mewling and puking in the nurse's arms" -- Winchester discusses the formation of the Atlantic Ocean and its geologic makeup, as well as humankind's initial forays beyond the shores of Europe and Africa. Later chapters discuss famous battles, the Atlantic's echoes in literature and popular culture, the effects of pollution on the ocean, and much more.

The Stephen B. Luce Library Lecture series features bestselling authors including Winchester and Clive Cussler as well as talks from our librarians on subjects such as the history of Maritime College. Simon Winchester's lecture will take place at 3:15 pm on Thursday, November 17 in the Luce Library. All are welcome.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Luce Library Archives for TV Production

Just in time for Halloween, maritime history and ghost stories collide on Syfy’s reality series Ghost Hunters. This Wednesday, October 26 at 9pm, Ghost Hunters will air an investigation of the infamous Matron’s Cottage at Sailors’ Snug Harbor, and the Stephen B. Luce Library plays a key role in telling the story, thanks to the Sailors’ Snug Harbor Collection located in the Luce Library Archives. The librarians at the Stephen B. Luce library worked closely with Ghost Hunters’ production team in their investigation by providing photographs, documents, and other research materials on the history of Sailors’ Snug Harbor. The Sailors’ Snug Harbor Archives, acquired in 1975 and 2008, consists of official documents, scrapbooks, photographs, and much more. To find out more about the Sailors’ Snug Harbor Collection, please visit the collection’s web site or stop by the Library.

Image from the Sailors' Snug Harbor Photo Gallery. Click the image to see more photos
Sailors’ Snug Harbor, a former seaman’s retirement community located in Staten Island, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and contains many historic and architecturally significant structures. The Matron’s Cottage is rumored to be the site of a grisly tale of imprisonment and murder; Ghost Hunters Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson team up with television personality and guest star Meredith Vieira to investigate the cottage’s haunted past. The Ghost Hunters episode will air on Wednesday, October 26 at 9PM on SyFy Channel (Cablevision #48, Fios #180, Direct TV #244).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

9/11 Exhibit in Library

The Stephen B. Luce Library extends another invitation to everyone to view the exhibit commemorating the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy. The exhibit showcases a few personal reflections on what happened on that tragic day. On display are memorabilia donated by Maritime’s own Major General Robert Wolf (Director of Graduate Admissions) who was a first responder to the 9/11 tragedy. You can see Major Wolf's gears still covered by fine particulates, dust, and ash which were created by the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. Also on display are the personal photographs of Captain Robert Pouch, then the Director of Board of Commissioners of Pilots of the State of NY, who was a first responder on the rescue efforts by the maritime community in the New York Harbor. These photographs depict Captain Pouch's experiences on that tragic day and he went on to receive the 9/11 First Responders Medal in 2004.

The exhibit is currently on display in the Library’s foyer area.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Librarian Publishes Interlibrary Loan Study

Librarian, Joseph Williams has recently published, as primary author, an article in the peer-reviewed, Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve, titled, “Interlibrary Loan in the United States: An Analysis of Academic Libraries in a Digital Age.” This study examined the rates and practices of interlibrary loan in the United States and its impact upon American academic libraries within the last decade. A copy of the article is available at the Stephen B. Luce Library.

The full citation is: Joseph A Williams & David E. Woolwine (2011): Interlibrary Loan in the United States: An Analysis of Academic Libraries in a Digital Age, Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve, 21:4, 165-183.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Captain Pouch Presents before Packed Auditorium

Before a packed auditorium on Wednesday, September 7, Captain Robert H. Pouch kept students on the edge of their seats with his presentation: “September 11, 2001: Response and Rescue on New York Harbor.” Captain Pouch, a first responder to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, was born and raised on Staten Island and is a graduate of Maine Maritime Academy. Until his retirement in 2009, Captain Pouch served as the Executive Director and Commissioner of the Board of Commissioners of Pilots of the State of New York.

Captain Pouch served aboard the P/B NEW YORK to communicate and coordinate relief efforts in the hours and days that followed September 11th. His efforts manifested the largest water-based evacuation anywhere in the world since World War II. For his contributions, Captain Pouch was awarded the USDOT/USCG World Trade Center 9/11/01 First Responders Medal (2004), New York State Conspicuous Service Medal (2007), United States Coast Guard Meritorious Service Medal (2008), New York State Board of Commissioners of Pilots Official’s Medal (2009), and the New York State Military Forces Conspicuous Service Medal for Meritorious Service awarded in 2010 (Second Award).

Captain Pouch concluded his presentation with a video describing the superb work of pilots in New York Harbor, many of whom are Maritime graduates. He encouraged follow up conversation, questions, and discussion.

On behalf of the Stephen B. Luce Library, Maritime College, and Regiment of Cadets, we thank Captain Pouch for his extraordinary lecture and his dedication within the maritime community in the face of “America’s greatest tragedy.”

The Stephen B. Luce Library will have Captain Pouch’s original photographs on display in the foyer throughout the month of September. Additional resources are also on display for research on 9/11, terrorism, security, and the maritime community.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Slip Sliding Away

July 30, 2011

Slip sliding away

When in playing a seemingly endless game of Nine Hundred and Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall the countdown miraculously reaches single digits and the aroma of Staten Island tickles nose hairs midway ‘cross the Atlantic—you might begin to wonder, “What have I yet to do on this ship?” No, no; that’s not some grand metaphor for Life and Death—unless you think it’s brilliant, in which case it is. What I mean is: I don’t get out much - I’m a regular boatbody.

But two things I’ve meant to do. First, strike a Leonardo-DiCaprio-on-the-flying-bridge-in-Titanic pose. This however, is not plausible as there’s some serious shakin’ in the barn. Second, ever since I visited the medieval Arab Bath in Palma, I’ve been dying—quite literally dying—to don my towel and flip flops and see TS Empire State VI’s equivalent; of course, I’m talking about the sauna— aka, engine room.

Now, admittedly, I have something of a Harpo Marx-like knack for mayhem and the last thing I want to do is mistakenly hit the “eject” button or fall into a cauldron of boiling hot waste water. Therefore, I enlisted the stewardship of my dear friend 1/C Patrick “Georgia On My Mind” Collins, who, amongst other things, advised that I wear earplugs and not touch anything.

Upon reaching engineering, I found a tour guide in a man named - ironically enough— “Melody,” who was kind enough to take time away from the old heave-ho to lead me about. Unfortunately, here is where my words fail me, for despite the detailed explanation he gave of the various turbo generators and so forth—TG they’re called; not TB, as I misheard amidst that ear-splitting chug-a-lug cacophony—all I retained was: fire, oil, water, steam!

One of the more intriguing things I learned is about waste water. We got to do something with it! In fact, federal law demands it. Again, I should be one of those hardball investigative gumshoe sleuths who always has a pen and a notebook handy—a moleskin, as Hemingway favored—instead of just standing there plugging my nose, because there’s a process by which toxicity is boiled out and we can safely discharge the remaining water into the ocean blue, a process which, not having notes on which to rely, I can tell you but little. Now, I do recall that the Coast Guard and the Feds monitor this closely and if toxins exceed a certain percentage—wham! Hefty fine!

Indeed, according to the Chief Engineer, some—I want to say—20 or 30 percent our budget alone goes to satisfying environmental regulations, many of which don’t exist in other countries. Here’s looking at you, China! Which is why, he went on, we keep getting our butts kicked! The Jones Act might have something to do with that, too, Chief. Another interesting fact: right next to the waste water there’s this nifty device that turns seawater into drinking water; here’s to hoping they never mistake one vat for the other.

Another thing: since I’ve been wearing this delightful white muumuu—I mean boiler suit—it’s like I’m some kind of god. A stairwell clogged with cadets? Avast! Watch as I part them like Moses did the sea! A cadet who doesn’t see me coming up the rear fails to hold a door open for me? Watch as upon realizing the error of his ways he prostrates himself, begging forgiveness and calling me “sir”! In other words, it’s really no different than the treatment I receive wherever I go on land.

Dedications: my good friend Kevin Roche—cardsharp, guitarist extraordinaire—says to his father, James Roche, SUNY Maritime alum: “Thanks for being there for me all these years.” Me: I’d like to say to my little niece, Sif, who’s nuts about boats, that I’m looking forward to seeing you on the pier when we return. You’ll get a kick out of this boat. It’s really big; hardly your run-of-the-mill “baby boat.” And to my parents, my brother and my aunt: where in the world are y’all now?

Yars! truly,


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Too Many Rivers to Cross

July 25, 2011

I send you today’s scuttlebutt from the very mouth of the Mediterranean, upon which converge Spain, Morocco and...England? Yes, sir. Or hath ye not heard of Gibraltar, also known as the Rock? For those of you who flunked History—go on, raise your hand—Gibraltar, like much of Spain, was ruled for 700 years by the Moors. Recaptured by the Spanish in1462 and Britain got its paws on it in 1704, where they remain today.

Sounds like an exciting place to visit; or, in the case of TS Empire State VI, to drop anchor within tantalizing eyeshot of—“bunker,” as it’s so called—and refuel; British Petroleum, you know; can’t beat it; what, with its excellent track record in offshore...hey, wait a minute! Unfortunately, the only person to debark to Gibraltar was Admiral Craine. Being the president has its privileges.

And now to discuss matters more pressing: my personal appearance! O, I’m vain! Vain, I tell ye! I can’t help it; I come from a long line of female beauties, whose continuation now so delicately rests on my volcanically erupting waistline. See, when I was told that the food on the ship was “good,” apparently that meant intolerably fattening! Truly, no matter the breakfasts I skip, miles I run, salads I substitute for heaping Tower of Babel portions of the flesh of every animal known to man, desserts from which I avert my eyes, etc. I’m still kept awake nights pinching mine stomach, thinking, “OMG! I’m getting fat!” Which is why I’ve replaced my impossibly handsome, slimming, pinching size-31-waist khaki trousers with this delightfully oversized white boiler suit! Indeed, I can now accumulate the collective blubber of some fourscore whales.

Lastly, Kurt Niemeyer addresses his kin thusly: “Hope everything is well. See you guys in 11 days!” And Nick Jones addresses the Jones Family: “Hope you’re enjoying your great PNW.” That’s Pacific Northwest, for those of you out of the know.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Homeward Bound

July 21, 2011

Homeward bound

The boat that I row won’t cross no ocean The boat that I row won’t get me there soon -Neil Diamond

BREAKING NEWS: TS Empire State VI and the Boys of Summer have turned a late-scheduled one-day stop in Mallorca into a four-day festival of fun, sun and Spanish Castle Magic. On account of our extended holiday in Spain, we are not—repeat, not!—going to France.

Four days in Palma de Mallorca, the disco inferno capital of Europe? ¡Hey, Macarena! Don’t get me wrong. There’s more to it than just shake, shake, shake—shake your bootie. I, for one, felt like everyone’s favorite knight errant, Don Quixote of La Mancha, when I disembarked the ark and what did I spy but a fort guarded only by a couple of grazing burros. I kid ye not. And what upon a hillside but a castle and a windmill! ¡Dios mio! My father, the medievalist, would have thought he’d died and gone to Dante’s Paradiso; if not that juxtaposed with the splendid medieval architecture—a 10th century Arab Bath, for instance; one of the few remaining testaments to 700 years of Moorish rule in Mallorca—were clothing optional beaches and all-night foam parties; in other words, a 21st century bath, if not quite Arab. Add expats and immigrants, and Palma is quite the mixed-up, perhaps reluctantly cosmopolitan place; a far cry from the passed over provincial backwater it had been before Franco opened the floodgates of tourism in the 1950’s. ¡Gracias al Caudillo!

Continuing on the subject of Gold Star dedications, my dear friend Nicholas Valavanis says hello to his mother and father, whom he loves and misses. And I, ol’ peppery Curley, say Happy Big Fat Turkish Wedding Day to my cousin Paul and his wife, Aylin. Wish I could be there to dance the Macarena—¡Hey, Macarena!—late into the Istanbul night, but, alas, duty calls.

Lastly, far be it for a seasoned—or seasonal, as the case may be—journalist to report on hearsay and rumor, but the hearsay and rumor scuttlebutt has it that our scheduled bunkering in Gibraltar for fuel and supplies might—repeat, might!—turn into a full-fledged pull-out-all-the-stops stop with liberty and justice for all...well, except for those naughty boys and girls assigned ED. I, for one, am as sure as Dante’s Purgatorio hoping for one last chance to sink my little tootsies into European soil before the long cross-Atlantic trek; but if Providence—or Captain Smith, whomever is calling the shots—wills it, then we’ll hunker down like Saint Brendan the Navigator, steamroll this here steamer past Go without collecting 200 greenbacks and head straight for Throgs Neck!

¡Hasta el próximo!


Monday, July 18, 2011



Penny Lane

On Watch

Hotdog Eating Contest

Hotdog Eating Contest



Castle in Rijeka

Mr. Curley

Thursday, July 14, 2011

From Croatia to Venice, and back

July 13, 2011

Hang on, Sloopy! Sloopy, hang on!

-The McCoys

When last we checked in our vessel was slip-sliding into Rijeka, Croatia. We welcomed aboard Rijeka's cultural dignitaries who told all about what rich splendors awaited us 600 red, white, and blue-blooded Americans in their industrial port town. We thanked them for their detailed presentation...then revealed our change of plans to travel via speedboat ferries by the boatload to — how fitting! — Floating City of Venice. We really love our boats, you see.

O, our cadets imbibed the culture of Venice and its oozing history like only land-thirsty sailors can; marveling at the great domed cathedrals—or “chapels,” as many of the boys curiously refer to them—labyrinthine infrastructure, and world-famous gondolas. To say nothing of the gondola drivers! What precision! The way they take those corners makes my parallel parking, which is renowned, by the way look like a hack job. And, finally, Gold Stars for all for such truly remarkable first-class American behavior! I’m sure our Italian and Croatian hosts would welcome us back at the drop of a beret!!!

Let us not forget Rijeka. No, we didn’t spend all of our time getting out of Dodge. And Rijeka had much to offer. For instance, there’s also a splendid old castle up an exhausting flight of stairs, which many of us braved for the views of town, but in which there was also a classical music ensemble that played Baroque-era tunes on Saturday night. I would speak to their playing and the stonewall acoustics; however, I went to see — and sit in with! — a Bob Dylan cover duo that night instead. O, and there were beaches…outside of town — none in Rijeka itself — rocky beaches with crayfish waiting to sink their little pinchers into our unsuspecting American tootsies! But I’m sure we’ll make up for that when we pull in to white-sandy-beached Palma de Mallorca. Can we pick ‘em or what!

Lastly, my dear friend Noah Collins sends his love to Grandma Bobbie! And I send greetings to my lovely wife. Wife, please send me another postcard.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Independence Day!

July 4, 2011

The stars at night are big and bright
Deep in the heart of Texas
-Gene Autry

Happy Birthday, America! Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and proud parents of, we have a winner in the 2011 SST II Hot Dog Eating Contest: 1/C Michael Neimes, a strapping young Mustache Man who wolfed down ten dripping wet dogs and buns in under three minutes, exhilarating the capacity crowd as Old Glory waved triumphantly, fireworks parted the skies, and potato cannons launched tater tots into the sea. Poignant, such a fine display of floating patriotism; and further evidence—as if there were any doubts—of America’s unequivocal standing as the world leader in culture: boat, culinary, facial hair, and otherwise.

To be sure, today fun, sun and patriotism reigned wherever ye cast ye gaze (or ye fishing pole, for that matter, considering the lucky boy who reeled in a thirty-five pound albacore on behalf of Uncle Sam). That’s because, with the exception of a few naughty boys and girls assigned “extra duty”—ED—Sunday is a welcomed day off from the restrictive row-row-row-your-boat world of training ship life. Even yars! truly is allowed out of his Bat Cave deep in the heart of TS Empire State VI for part of the day to expose his anemic skin to the rejuvenating Mediterranean sun.

But, alas, I’m not the only one. No, when I refer to a loosening of restrictors, that goes for the belts of our monkey suits as well. Clearly word reached many leagues under that the beach party was going on aboard TS Empire State VI. No sooner had the first two litre soda cap popped than a school of bottlenose dolphins appeared and for many hours swam lead mere feet in front of the ship’s bow, occasionally leaping above water for fresh air, turning on their side to wave hello to us sunbathing matey’s. Getting to know you! Yes, sir! Eat your heart out, Discovery Channel!


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Maintaining Appearances

I’m a model you know what I mean
And I do my little turn on the catwalk

-Right Said Fred

Mom, are we there yet? Yar! I kid, I joke. In truth, these leisurely days at sea haven’t been—dare I say it?—all for knot! Lately, I’ve managed to read everything ever written about Croatia, our next port. For example, this from the Culture
series guide to Croatia:

“...the culture of dress is flourishing, at times even bordering on ostentation. Looking good is more important for women than for men, but both pay a great deal of attention to appearance, designer clothes, fashion, and style...”

Well, then! Prepare to meet your match, Croatia, as I bring ye the boys and girls of TS Empire State VI!

Like in the former Yugoslavia, here aboard Empire, one’s daily life depends on his or her rank. As for the hierarchy, first come officers (captains, engineers, instructors, the all-important librarian, etc), then crew (cooks, housekeeping) and finally the lowly rank-and-file student body. These are further subdivided into first, second, and third class (1/C, 2/C, 3/C); 1/C being the salty seniors, enlisted for both first and second sea term; 2/C, veteran seamen but not yet seniors; and 3/C, freshmen, “mugs,” as they’re known, whipping boys, ye might say, one false move away from scrubbing the deck or—dare I say it?—walking the plank!

Now, the idea is to be able to identify one’s rank by his or her appearance, but it can get tricky, as officers and cadets are only given the following two options of dress: either the one piece boiler suit (“monkey suit,” if ye will), worn in
greasy locales, such as the engine room (I, despite requests, was not given one) [ed. note: He really did ask for one], or khaki pants paired with a khaki shirt (“khaki tuxedo,” if ye will, a fashion faux pas of the highest order). Monkey suits are cut and dry:

Officers = White; 1/C = Grey; 2/C = Tan; 3/C = Blue. It’s when everyone is clad in khaki tuxedos that there’s real ambiguity. Then, as in any great society, one resorts to scrutinizing certain class distinctions if you cannot quite catch the little rank badges from a distance.

For instance, with the exception of yours truly, officers are old. Spy a greybeard? Officer! But our class has another definition: after 5PM (1700 hours), we let our hair down (all one centimeter of it), button down the hatch of our khaki shirts and
replace them with fabulously handsome red or blue Maritime College polo shirts.

However, we are not the only privileged class. 1/C cadets are granted perhaps the most remarkable of honors: facial hair. Not just any facial hair. No, no. We’re not cultivating any hippies on this here boat! Like the New York Yankees of baseball, our boys are given but one option when it cometh to the hair on their chinny chin chins; that there shall be none! Mustache only!

What’s that ye say? What about our 2/C and 3/C cadets? What about them? says I. Second and third class citizens, the lot them! Utterly without distinction, utterly without importance!

O, but there is one man I neglected to mention, the one man who
sports not a khaki but a camouflage tuxedo to go along with his crew cut, well balanced gait in even the roughest waters, and combat boots. Yes, sir! To call him merely a man is to insult him; for he is a bear amongst cubs! Not only that, but a
Lieutenant Colonel to keep the Mugs in line!

Until next time,

Friday, July 1, 2011

Librarianship at Sea

Summer Sea Term 2010 Empire State VI’s librarians, Joseph Williams (Maritime College) and Richard Delbango (Nassau Community College) made a presentation of librarianship at sea at the SUNY Librarian Association’s annual conference in SUNY Plattsburgh. Topics discussed were the unique nature of providing service to an academic seagoing community as well as the challenges of the profession in an unorthodox environment. Plenty of sea stories were told in this well-received presentation.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

As dumb as a dock!

June 29, 2011

Yar! matey’s. Ol’ Pappa Curley bringing ye the daily scuttlebutt!

Three days the saltier and infinitely the wiser! Or so I’d like to think. In truth, no matter how deeply I meditate on the sea— believe me—I can’t seem to open my mouth on this boat [ed. note: it is a ship, not a boat] without sounding like—in the words of Admiral William Smyth—“a dirty dog and no sailor.” Well, the latter description is applicable, certainly. As for the former, in fact I’m quite clean; and—while I’m divulging—I’m really more of a peppery (defined as sharp and stinging in style or content) than a salty dog.

Catch my drift? Me thinks not! Well, then, perhaps a dialog my finer moments will better illustrate my point...

Captain Smith enters library.
Smith: “Just confirming with you that we are definitely going to Rijeka, not Split. As soon as I find out, I’ll let you know the name of the berth.”
Curley: “Name of the birth? Like a Caesarean?”

Cadet Patrick Collins checks out a book.
Curley: “Man, did you hear about the whale sighting this morning?!?!”
Collins: “What about it?”
Curley: “What about it? C’mon, it’s not ever’ day you see a whale, for Jonah’s sake!"
Collins: “We see whales all the time on watch. All they do is blow their blowholes.”
Curley: “Isn’t that all any of us does, matey?”
Collins (rolls eyes): You should come on watch sometime. We see all kinds of stuff. Flying fish, dolphins—lots of dolphins—sea turtles...”
Curley: “...mermaids, Loch Ness...”

Ye see? And I’m not trying to be clever or snarky here, folks. Honestly, I’m bowled over by being at sea and seeing a whale! But I discovered that my asking a grizzled salty dog [ed. note: not sure if a cadet is really a 'grizzled salty dog'] whether he saw a whale is rather like his asking a smart aleck peppery dog (who happens to be a librarian) like me whether I’ve ever heard of a book they call Moby-Dick. “Uh, yeah, dude. I’ve heard of that one.” Talk about a role reversal!

I’m used to being the sophisticated cynic and indifferent to bubbly enthusiasm. Yar!I wish I had some saucy sea tales to relay, but, alas, everything has been—shall we say?—smooth sailing so far. I do, however, have these messages:

Zach Davidson says, “Hey, mom.”

Michael Carew says, “Love you, mom. Love you, Jackie.”

James Caracciolo says, “I love you, mom.”
Tim Bourke says, “What’s up, mom?”

And I, Curley, say, “Love you,” to me mum as well. Mum, they’re going to make me fat with the food they’re feeding me, thus ruining our long and illustrious lineage of scrawny! OMG! (Read about it in my next blog post.)

I am a rock, I am a...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bye-bye land; Hello open ocean!

June 27, 2011

Ahoy, me matey’s. Greetings from the watery part of the world! Call me Curley, Brendan Curley, the ship’s librarian for the second sea term. Now, before you draw any conclusions about my fluency with 21st century sailor jargon, I must warn devoted readers of this blog—surely they number as many as the stars in the sky—who are accustomed to the sea-savvy tidings of Mike Russell, our former librarian and a veteran salty dog, that I, Curley, represent a very different point of view... that of a first-time sailor. I am like a fish out of water so consider this my maiden voyage!

Fortunately I am not the only one on a maiden voyage; I find myself in the same "boat" as many of the mugs — freshmen students, for those of you unfamiliar with sailor talk —who are here aboard TS Empire State VI for the first time. I know what you’re thinking, reader. “Seasickness, indeed!” No, sir, not I! For I’ve the constitution of a bear and the stomach of a sheep. I also float like a boat and sing like a Bee Gee (though I’m evidently rather poor at metaphors).

Don’t believe me? Feast your eyes on this: "Truly singing his little Irish-American heart out on the boardwalk in Cobh." I must have been the spitting image of a genuine Irishman, too, for I had no sooner sat down when a group of cadets approached, turned my case around, tossed some Euros into it and said, “This is how we do it in America, boy-o!” Yes, sir!

O, I could go on and on, but enough about me! You're probably wondering about our beloved cadets, and I can tell ye that they were as smitten with Ireland as I. Good, clean, honest American fun was had by all. I saw our cadets everywhere I went in Cobh as well as Cork where many of us made excursions. I even spoke to a cadet in the library today who said he went fly fishing! And, naturally, there were many more who like me brought instruments into town to make music with the locals. Indeed, all I heard the last night in town as our seafaring cadets glumly filed back to the ship was, “What a wonderful country!” “What truly friendly people!”

Alas, here we are now one day out at sea and making great time due to arrive within another day or so in Gibraltar, at which point Captain Smith will apply the brakes, donut around a few islands, and float leisurely into Croatia by July 6. It’s quite lovely I hear. In fact, we are all looking forward to the beautiful Mediterranean scenery, weather, and locals.

Lastly, we also have a new port, ladies and gentlemen. Rijeka. I repeat: Rijeka instead of Split. Address cards and letters accordingly to:

Name of Cadet, T/S Empire State, c/o

BANDIC d.o.o. (Ltd.)

Smiljanica 2

21000 Split


Until next time, dear reader:

Fair winds and following seas!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

On the Way to Cobh

June 15, 2011

It doesn't take long to get back in the underway routine. The cardio room and the cadet lounges surround the library on the third-deck and there are always people working out either on the cardio machines or doing exercise DVDs. Gosh, to have that much energy again! I have been true to my daily yoga, Pilates, and meditation. But, the six-deck climb up to my stateroom from the library is getting longer and steeper...

Today we came across a small 25 foot pleasure boat adrift. We tried hailing them on the normal radio frequencies, but without any response. So we circled around and came up within hailing distance. At first we didn't see any people onboard, but then we saw someone in the cockpit who was not moving. Finally, the blasts from the ship's horn got them up and moving. That's one wake up call they will not forget! I'm sure that all came as a relief to our rescue & assistance team who would have needed to go over to investigate. The pleasure boat indicated that they didn't require any assistance and so TSES returned to her course. Law of the sea, stop and give aid unless to do so would hazard your vessel. In my time in the CG I've seen merchant vessels render aid to others in the most trying of sea conditions and dangerous circumstances. That kind of story doesn’t make it on the evening news, besides they would never think of what they were doing as heroic – just doing their duty.

Later we did a ship's emergency drill followed by an abandon ship drill. These are required by the U.S. Coast Guard and are to be done on a set schedule. You do as you train and training gets you ready for the real thing and that always comes unannounced. I've been a member of rescue & assistance teams to other vessels in distress and been through several shipboard emergencies including fires and a helicopter crash on deck. Training and drilling make all the difference when the time comes.

For most of the afternoon and night we have been sailing the same course as a NATO squadron of destroyers and frigates along with the USS Mount Whitney. Kind of gives you a little insight of what it may have been like for merchantmen sailing in convoys under the protection of military escorts during the two World Wars. But, for Cap't Hugh Stephens, one of our deck instructors, he doesn't have to imagine - he remembers.

For the cadets on the 45 day cruise they are in their last week of training with finals exams starting over the weekend. Next stop Cobh, Ireland.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Photos in Gdansk, Poland

Gdansk Waterfront, Old City

Gdansk Visa alley

SUNY Cadets

International Connections: Russian and SUNY Cadets

International Connections: Polish and SUNY Cadets


June 12, 2011

Today, I took the ferry boat over to Gdansk with some of our cadets and some of the Russian & Polish midshipman for an afternoon in that old town. Cadets from each county got together in the ferry's forward salon and played a game of charades. Fortunately a few of the Russian and Polish cadets could speak some English and with sign body language that was enough to keep things going.

During the ferry ride we could see the resort city of Sopot and later we made our way through Gdansk's commercial port and down the Motlawa and Stara Motlawa. The Gdansk "Old Town" is more touristy than Riga with vendors selling amber jewelry everywhere, but it had a charm and authentic feeling to it. The area had been thoroughly bombed during World War II and stayed in ruins through the Soviet era. Since joining the EU, Poland has been able to revitalize its historical areas into economic zones.

In Gdansk, our immediate need was for Polish cash. We walked through Visa alley to the first bank where each us us valiantly tried (and failed) to get money. Fortunately, none lost a card! A little further down the street a sharp eyed deckie cadet spotted another bank where we were all able to fill our pockets with local "Zits." We went our separate ways and met four-hours later back at the ferry for a quick ride back to TSES and the Admiral’s Reception. The vast majority took these experience in stride, and enjoyed their adventure and the friendships they have made. Me, I'm sitting in a shaded cafe having a coffee and listening to classical music from a pair of street musicians. Sad that all hands are gathering to leave and so must I.


June 11 2011

The Empire State VI is making the last leg of its passage to Gdynia, Poland from Riga, Latvia and we should tie up sometime tomorrow.

Riga was a blast! There was lots to do, places to see, and activities to participate in. There were several tours, but the most favorite was a tie between the bicycle trip and a wilderness park adventure from the oohs and aahs I heard. Personally, I only made the foot tour of the Art Nouveau district.

I did visit the National Library of Latvia which is currently being built. It's huge! One of its several complete buildings is the Art Nouveau style and I got to walk around inside and admire the chestnut moldings, columns, and plaster fittings. My need for some green was satisfied by Riga's extensive inner city parks and canal system. Not one big park mind you, but lots of medium sized parks with neighborhoods built around them flowing together Although Riga is a city of 1.2 million, it feels like a city of neighborhoods - a lot like my Philadelphia (but a whole lot cleaner).

Friday, June 10, 2011


Learning Block and Tackle from Professor James McKoy

Rigging the Scaffold with Captain Mike Kein

Plugging a Leak

Cadets in the Computer Lounge

What's that Smell?

Coming into Riga

Getting Q's on the Life Rafts

Repairing the Ship

Sunset Over Denmark

The Tugboat "Hugin"

Hanging Out

Monday, June 6, 2011

Empire State Carnival

June 6, 2011

In a few hours we will pull into Riga, Latvia, having completed a major portion of our training journey for this first half of the Summer Sea Term. I watched as the cadets went from station to station in our “Empire State Carnival” and have some nice pictures to share once we reach port. I’m sure they each had their favorite exercises!

From my perspective, the most challenging station involved cadets practicing how to plug leaks in a ruptured bulkhead (wall) as water gushed out at 200 gallons per minute from a half dozen differently shaped holes and cracks. The most successful cadets started by fixing the larger holes at the bottom of the bulkhead as it filled, forcing the water to flow instead out of smaller cracks. To add to the realism, cadets were sprayed with “fog” from a fire hose.

The point of the exercise is not only to stop the flooding, but to build team work through careful planning and lots of persistent practice. By design, it is impossible to stop all the water, but just stopping enough of the water so that pumps could keep ahead of the ruptures until proper repairs can be made in a real life flooding situation, which would affect the stability of the ship or worse.

Another station was a search and rescue exercise using SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus) for practical firefighting. In this case, two cadets enter a dark compartment to look for an “injured” shipmate. One cadet places their left hand along the wall and
his partner holds onto his right arm. The two “rescuers” crawl in a sweeping motion around a room filled with obstacles to find the victim. Cadets learn quickly that in the hot and disorientating room, it is nearly impossible to talk using the SCBA and communication is facilitated with trained hand signals.

On deck, cadets also trained in the safe use of blocks and tackles, boatswain chairs and scaffolds, and deck rescue/quick response boats. Riding around in the RHIB (Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat) is popular with the students.

Although these real life training exercises are playfully referred to as “Carnival,” students recognize the true application of the stations and come away from the experience as stronger, more devoted shipmates.

Underway to Riga

June 2, 2011

It only took a few days after Aalborg for us to get back into our underway routines. Some cadets are painting, some are standing watch, and others are studying. Depending on the day, the cadets rotate their duties. The instructors are putting in eighteen hour plus days between teaching class, grading papers, and standing their own watches. At first I thought of the Empire State VI as a floating classroom and while she is educational, the experience is really an exploration of maturity for the cadets. Participating in Summer Sea Term is really a study of finding the right answers unexpected questions, showing initiative and tenacity, and always being prepared for the unknown.

Over the weekend the cadets trained in practical deck and engineering exercises which included damage control, seamanship, boat rescue, block and tackle, search and rescue, etc. One of the instructors helped to take pictures of these exercises and will assist again during the ship's "Carnival."

Cadets have been avid readers of C.S. Forrester’s Hornblower series, and some attention has been paid to the local wildlife at sea. Of note have been a few unique gulls and osprey. I'm writing the final draft of the port brochure for Riga, Latvia with input from officers, cadets, and librarians on shore. Riga is a modern European city and the second largest in the Baltic. There will be plenty of museums, cafes, shopping, and entertainment. Personally, the Botanical Garden, Bikeernieki Forest, and the Art Nouveau in the Centre district are on my list. The ports of Gdynia, Poland and Cobh, Ireland will be here before we know it.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Aalbourg Carnival and Sights

May 29, 2011

We departed Aalborg this evening headed to anchorage to refuel. Our visit to St. Petersburg was cancelled due to logistics, but change and flexibility are part of ship-board life. With a stiff breeze it took two tugs to pull us away from the pier and after a 180-degree turn we headed out the Langerak to the Baltic Sea. Our weather is overcast, but with calm seas the EMPIRE STATE VI is just gliding along headed to anchorage near Skagen in the Albæk Bugt.

I haven't polled the entire crew but I think most of us enjoyed our port call. Early each morning I would walk through town and visit newsstands to get some English newspapers. It’s amazing to me, even after all these years, the similarity of towns in the morning.

For the most part I’m not sure what to make of the Aalborg Carnival. The children's parade was just like you would see back home – all cute and such. And the battle of the (marching) bands was interesting, although they were more like drum and bugle corps without the bugles. Theme teams walked along behind the band for what seemed like miles. Wanting to take a look, Eileen (Deck Yeoman) and I wandered down to the parade route along the Vesterbro. Eileen is more adventitious and soon we were following alongside the parade, but a wrong turn put us in the parade at its current epicenter. It was intense, but I had more to fear wearing a Giant’s jersey at an Eagles home game. It was something like a Halloween that didn’t quite reach a Mardi Gras level of intensity. After the parade there was entertainment in the town park and people would disperse from there to the bus/train station and I think most went home. I saw few (if any) police or security, and absolutely no fights or violence. The people knew what to do and where to go, following some unwritten code of limits.

The festival was ultimately a distraction and not the focus of our visit. We went to many museums and historic areas, along with a few amusement parks. A few people did manage a side trip to Copenhagen. The food was more or less the same international flavor we get back home. The Danish people are very private but are eager to assist, and once they are engaged are friendly with a lively and mischievous sense of humor. Well it was a no-brainer that the Danish pastries were good and while I couldn't always pronounce them they sure went down easy with a cup of coffee. My favorite baker was along Christansgade, near the train station.

Next stop... Latvia!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Photos from the leg to Aalborg

Michael Russell, TSES SST 2011 Librarian (Part A)

Saying Goodbye

Pull those lines!

The Azores

"Steel Beach Picnic"

Fantail Watch

Engineering Cadets Muster

Aalborg, Denmark

Another Shot of the "Steel Beach Picnic"

What saying goodbye looks like to TSES