Your Questions Answered: Did John F. Kennedy Help Build The TS Kennedy?

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One class wanted to know:

Did President John F. Kennedy help build the training ship?

No, President John F. Kennedy did not assist in the building the training ship.  Our keel of our training ship was laid down in 1964.  John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.  Our training ship, however, was named in honor of the Kennedy family.

John F. Kennedy loved the ocean and was an avid sailor.  His family owned a compound of summer homes in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, near the location of the Massachusetts Nautical School.  John was 19 years old when the school moved from Boston to Hyannis.  He would often pass the school’s training ship when he was sailing in Hyannis harbor. 

During World War II, John F. Kennedy served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy.  He was in command of a small patrol torpedo boat, PT-109, when it was struck by a Japanese destroyer on August 2, 1943John F. Kennedy responded heroically, swimming miles across the open ocean to remote islands to save his crew.  He even towed a wounded man through the ocean with a belt held between his teeth.


Kennedy family photo 1948
This photo is part of the Kennedy Family Collection at the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.  In 1948, members of the Kennedy family posed in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. At this time, the Massachusetts Nautical  School was in Hyannis Harbor just a short distance from their home. 
From left to right: John F. Kennedy, Jean Kennedy, Rose Kennedy (mother), Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. (father), Patricia Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Eunice Kennedy.  Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy is in foreground.

One of President Kennedy’s most iconic quotes involved the ocean. 

"We are tied to the ocean.
And when we do back to the sea, whether it is to sail or watch it, we are going back to whence we came."

Teachers, look for Interpreting A Quote under Projects And Activities.  Click on Language Arts under Projects And Activities.  It is ideal for students in grades 3-12.

Upon entering the Bresnahan Building on the campus of Massachusetts Maritime Academy, cadets, faculty, staff, and visitors are greeted by a brass plaque containing a quote by Joseph P. Kennedy Senior.  All incoming cadets are required to memorize these words as part of Orientation

"You can have a Merchant Marine with first-class men even if they sail second class ships, but second-class men can't be trusted with the finest ships afloat."

plaque with quote

In 1937, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed Joseph P. Kennedy to be the first head of the United States Maritime Commission, known today as MARADThe Commission was charged with advancing and maintaining a strong merchant marine to support U.S. commerce and defense. MARAD also regulated ocean commerce, supervised freight and terminal facilities, and administered construction and operational subsidy funds for private commercial ships. The Merchant Marine Act Of 1936 also authorized the Commission to design and construct 500 modern merchant ships over a 10-year period.  The first was the transatlantic liner America. Today, the TS Kennedy is part of MARAD’s National Defense Reserve Fleet.

Teachers, look for Interpreting A Quote And Applying It To Your Own Life.   Click on Language Arts under Projects And Activities.  It is ideal for students in grades 3-12.

In 2008, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy Board of Trustees members voted to rename the training ship Kennedy, in honor of Ted Kennedy's service as a U.S. Senator for Massachusetts.  Like his brother John, Ted was an avid sailor.  He treasured his days aboard his beloved schooner, Mya.  In 2006, Senator Kennedy was awarded an honorary degree by Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

Senator Ted Kennedy

The Trustees noted that renaming the training ship, Kennedy, would also honor the memories of Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., a Navy pilot killed in World War II, assassinated President John F. Kennedy, and assassinated presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy.

We are thrilled to have students participating in the Follow The Voyage-Share The Experience Program from schools that share the name of our training ship.  Students from John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Billerica, Massachusetts, Dayton, Ohio, Great Neck, New York, Madison Wisconsin, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota are following our cadets.  Students at Kennedy Academy in South Bend, Indiana and Kennedy Elementary School in South Bend, Indiana are also participating in the FTV-STX Program.

JFK school South Bend, Indiana
We are happy to have students from seven "Kennedy Schools" participating in the Follow The Voyage-Share The Experience Program, including kindergarten students from Kennedy Academy in South Bend, Indiana.

Would you like to learn more about John F. Kennedy and the Kennedy family?  Click on the links below:

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library And Museum in Boston, Massachusetts:

John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum in Hyannis, Massachusetts:

Please keep your questions coming!  Captain Campbell and the cadets love hearing from students participating in the Follow The Voyage-Share The Experience Program.