Docked at the Alpena Marina on Wednesday, the Pride of Michigan carries a crew of young sailors and divers looking to increase their knowledge of life on the water.
They’re part of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps Great Lakes Division program which puts them in real life situations where they can get hands-on experience. “Seamanship like knot–tying, bringing the ship into port,” said Gavin Prusakiewicz, one of the cadets. “We’ve learned firefighting and basic health and secondary care.”
Perhaps their favorite activity though, diving deep into the great lakes. “We teach scuba diving, a big part of our program, and with teaching scuba diving, they get to see the shipwrecks, but the history in this part of the world goes way beyond the shipwrecks,” said Luke Clyburn, captain of the Pride of Michigan.
The program was started by congress in 1962 and has given many cadets the training needed to go work on other ships as careers. “We’ve got a number of our cadets that are out running freighters out there today,” said Clyburn. “1,000-foot freighters, they’re engineers, they’re in the engine room, they’re steering. So, the program has paid off not only for military but putting young people into the maritime industry.”
These cadets are staying on the ship for 10 days as they travel through the great lakes. “It’s fun and long but it’s well worth the time,” said Vinnie Dziengowski, another cadet. “The opportunities we get here, there’s not many other places you can find to get these opportunities.”
As they learn throughout their time on the ship, they’re also helping discover lost pieces of history at the bottom of Lake Huron.