Around the Island

The young man and the sea

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”- Jimmy Dean.

Pierce Senken is on an adventure of a lifetime. A 3rd Year Midshipman at the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, Pierce is the son of Gregory and Jane Senken of Shelter Island and Garden City.

As part of the mandated training, all midshipmen are required to sail during their second and third years at the academy. “Sea Year,” as it is known, is a cooperative educational program designed to provide practical knowledge of the performance and operating characteristics of various classes of vessels, the operating requirements in different trade routes and labor relations in the ocean shipping industry.

The first sea period takes place during the sophomore year and lasts about 135 days. The second sea period, the junior year, is longer, lasting about 265 days.

During Pierce’s sophomore year, he spent more than four months at sea on container ships travelling from ports located on the east coast of the United States, including Port Newark, New Jersey; Norfolk, Virginia; Savannah, Georgia and Baltimore, Maryland, and sailing to Bremerhaven, Germany; Antwerp, Belgium; Felixstowe, Britain; Le Havre, France; Kuwait and United Arab Emirates.

Pierce is currently on a container ship in the Pacific Ocean sailing to Yokohama, Japan. The next four months will bring him to Naha, Japan, Busan, South Korea and Shanghai, China. During the first part of this Sea Year, he was on a fuel tanker that sailed from Corpus Christi, Texas to Ashkelon, Israel, Sicily, Italy and Trinidad in the Caribbean.

Very few men and women can boast about seeing half the world by the age of 21, but Pierce has earned that boasting right as he continues his education and eventual commitment to our country.

So, what lies ahead for Pierce? Midshipmen who master the demanding curriculum earn a unique combination of credentials: a highly-regarded bachelor of science degree, a U.S. Coast Guard license and officer’s commission in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Over the next few months, Pierce has to decide on what path to take after graduation. It’s a good problem to have as he decides on becoming a United States Merchant Marine or a commissioned officer in one of the branches of the armed services. Whatever he decides, we wish him well and are very proud of his accomplishments.