Massachusetts Maritime Academy Receives Grant to Build Helicopter Underwater Escape Training Unit

Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA), a top-ranked public university with undergraduate degree programs focusing on science, engineering, technology, math, and business that blend academics and experiential learning, has announced the receipt of a $2 million grant from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) to design, permit, and build a Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET) unit in the campus’ existing Olympic-sized pool.

With offshore wind projects currently under construction in the Northeast, there has been an increased use of helicopters over crew transfer vessels to transport workers to and from construction vessels on site. Personnel being transferred by helicopter require training to be prepared in case they need to escape the aircraft in the event of an emergency landing on water.

Receipt of the MassCEC grant will allow the Academy’s Maritime Center for Responsible Energy (MCRE), in cooperation with training partner RelyOn Nutec, to move forward with construction of a HUET unit in the campus’ underutilized, Olympic-sized swimming pool. Construction is estimated to take two years, and upon completion the training unit will fall under the supervision of MCRE.

The Academy projects that it could train approximately 320 participants per year. Focus areas will be the Cape & Islands and the South Coast of Massachusetts with established partners and industry professionals seeking training. The Academy will have the ability to support participants from throughout the Commonwealth and beyond, allowing them to take advantage of the HUET unit.

“The Academy has been a leader in offshore wind training, and this grant allows us to further expand our trainings while offering a complete approach to preparing people for careers in offshore wind development,” said Maritime Center for Responsible Energy (MCRE) Executive Director Captain Michael R. Burns, Jr.

“Massachusetts needs to mobilize over 34,000 additional workers to meet our climate goals, and offshore wind is poised to become our largest source of clean energy,” said MassCEC CEO Dr. Emily Reichert. “MassCEC is supporting this industry through key investments in infrastructure, innovation, and workforce development. We’re investing in offshore wind port infrastructure in New Bedford and Salem, and we’re investing in people through programs like Offshore Wind Works. The organizations awarded today are building an equitable workforce that will have the skills and talent to make Massachusetts the national hub for the emerging East Coast offshore wind industry.”

“We are grateful to the MassCEC and the Healey-Driscoll Administration for this substantial grant to build a HUET unit on our campus,” said Rear Admiral Francis X. McDonald, USMS, president of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. “The need for helicopter underwater escape training has become increasingly important as offshore wind projects gain momentum in this country’s transition to cleaner energy sources.”

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