Cal Maritime announces change of command on training ship

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The following is text of a news release from California State University Maritime Academy:

(VALLEJO, Calif.) — After 10 years at the helm, Harry Bolton handed over command of the training ship Golden Bear on Wednesday at California State University Maritime Academy.

Bolton, a 1978 graduate of the Academy, returned to Cal Maritime on May 1, 2008 after a 30-year career with American Maritime Officers. Twenty of those years were with American Overseas Marine Corporation (AMSEA) aboard the original preposition ships based out of Guam, Saipan and Diego Garcia. Bolton began sailing as Master in 1985, only seven years after graduation.

“You are why I came back,” Bolton told Cal Maritime cadets at the ceremony. “To give 30 years — at the time — of experience back to you and the school that I love so much.”

Dr. Shashi Kumar, the Maritime Administration’s deputy associate administrator and national coordinator for maritime education and training, announced that the United States Maritime Administration was bestowing Bolton with the rank of Commodore.

Veteran faculty member, researcher, and administrator Capt. Sam Pecota is the new master of the Golden Bear.

Pecota has served as Cal Maritime's academic dean since 2015, leading a transition to reorganize the Academy's academic programs under three distinct schools, creating a more efficient and effective academic administration and supporting the growth of the University.   

"I am honored to take on this new role which is so critical to the operation of the Academy and the education of our cadets," said Pecota adding, "I am glad to have this opportunity to build on the superb work that Captain Bolton and the crew have invested in making the Golden Bear the finest training ship in the world."

Pecota joined the faculty at Cal Maritime in 2001 in the department of Marine Transportation. His specialties are marine electronics and the development of new maritime educational and training pedagogies with special emphasis on practice-based learning through simulation.

He is the author of the textbook Radar Observer Manual (6th Ed., 2006) and numerous technical papers on e-Navigation which have been delivered at international conferences.

Pecota served as chair of the Marine Transportation Department from 2009-2011. In 2013, he was awarded the title of distinguished professor in recognition of his research and scholarly work at Cal Maritime. In 2014, he served as the chair of e-Navigation Underway North America, an international conference dealing with the latest developments in marine navigation equipment and vessel control systems, held on the Cal Maritime campus.

At the Academy, he has also served as director of simulation since 2013, and relief master of the Training Ship Golden Bear since 2011. Since 2014, he has served as a council member of the Nautical Institute, the governing body of the international organization for maritime professionals, based in London, England.

Pecota graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York in 1980. He spent 20 years as a merchant officer, working his way up from 3rd mate to master. He served as captain aboard the MV Stuyvesant from 1989 until 2000. Pecota earned a master's degree in Transportation Management from American Military University in 2005.

Each summer, Cal Maritime cadets who are working to earn a U.S. Coast Guard license in addition to a bachelor's degree depart the Academy's Vallejo campus for a two-month, international training cruise. For the duration of the cruise, Cal Maritime cadets are responsible for running the ship, including navigating and driving, repairing and overseeing the engines, and maintaining the vessel. The cruises are supervised by the ship's captain, along with the chief engineer, faculty members, and a team of experienced mariners.

By Professional Mariner Staff