A training ship is a vessel that is used specifically to teach students how to perform as sailors. Usually this training is military in nature, but sometimes a ship is used to train civilians, for example, a sail training ship may be used to teach people how to navigate in the water. A training ship can be taken out and used for at-sea instruction or remain docked on a permanent basis, to serve as more of a simulator.
There is a long history of using naval training ships. They have been around for more than a century. The British Royal Navy’s first official training ship was commissioned in 1855. There are hundreds of naval training ships all around the world. Most likely if a country has its own navy, it is in possession of one or more.
Sometimes training ships do not begin their lives as such, as in the case of the Training Ship (T.S.) Golden Bear. This ship was built as the USS Mellen and the United States Navy used it in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, it was decommissioned and renamed. It was then sent to the California Maritime Academy.
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When a maritime academy takes a ship out to sea to provide instruction for student sailors, this jaunt is often known as a training cruise. These cruises can last a few days or as long as several months. The objective is to teach students about life on a ship, including the specific tasks they must perform in doing their jobs, operations and maintenance, and how to handle shipboard weaponry, if applicable. Often students go on several of these cruises before they finish school.
Like a recreational cruise, these training cruises can have several ports of call, but such stops are seen as further learning opportunities rather than simply as fun land excursions. After completing the training cruise, some students may even decide that shipboard life is not for them, because they do not like the cramped quarters and strictly regimented duties.
The training ship is not much different than any other type of ship. These vessels are typically not modified much for instruction. Instructors want to give their students the most realistic experience possible, so that they will be prepared when they are finished training. The main difference about these ships is that there are instructors on board and that the ship is not intended for active duty.