There were more smiles than tears as cadets said a final goodbye to parents, grandparents, girlfriends, boyfriends and friends.
Cadets disembarked the ship at 6:00 AM for their hour-long on-campus liberty. They were greeted with cheers, hugs, and high-fives as they walked into the packed Mess Deck in Pande Hall. While enjoying a cup of coffee and assorted pastries provided by Chartwells, cadets recapped the highlights of Alongside Week.
From their animated chatter at the tables and the spring in their steps, it was clear that the cadets were filled with excitement. When asked to share their feelings on this milestone morning, most explained that they were looking forward to taking all that they've learned on campus and applying it aboard the TS Kennedy. Some added that they were eager to strengthen the new friendships that had formed during Alongside Week. With the outside temperature hovering in the low 30s, just about every cadet admitted that they couldn't wait to shed their coats, sweatshirts and knitted hats in just a few days. For many 4/C cadets, this will be their first time leaving the United States.
The hourlong visit passed all too quickly. There were hugs, kisses, and more photos.
Parents wiped their eyes as their cadets walked towards the gangway. All insisted that it was feelings of happiness and pride that brought on their tears, not sadness. Many were eager to describe the paths that had led their sons and daughters to Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Some recounted the milestones that occurred along the way.
It was a long wait for families and friends. Cadets boarded the ship at 7:15 AM, but the TS Kennedy did not depart for another three hours.
By 10:00 AM, parents and friends were front and center on the dock, holding up colorful signs. Thanks to cell phone communication, parents knew exactly where their cadets were standing on the ship. Of course, a few more photos were taken.
Finally, the moment that everyone was waiting for arrived. The last line was removed from its piling and two tugs guided the training ship away from the dock. The clouds, fog, and freezing drizzle that had enveloped the TS Kennedy throughout the week had lifted.
Under a bright blue sky and brilliant sunshine, the ship headed towards the horizon.
Here is a collection of photos from the final farewell.
First, here are photos taken during the on-campus liberty.
Next, here are the final goodbyes while cadets were on the ship.
And finally, here are photos of the TS Kennedy departing.
Bon Voyage, TS Kennedy!