Master of SUNY Maritime training ship steps down

The following is text of a news release from the State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College:

(THROGGS NECK, N.Y.) — Capt. Richard Smith, Class of 1981, has notified the college of his decision to resign as master of Empire State VI, effective Oct. 26.

Upon graduation from Maritime College in 1981, Smith joined the commercial shipping industry before returning to Fort Schuyler as a marine transportation professor and mate on the training ship. After a few years, he rejoined a commercial crew and, at the time, was the youngest master of the world’s largest supertanker, USCC Mira Star. His commercial experience served him well when he came back to be the master of Empire State and commandant of cadets.

In his 27 years at his alma mater, Smith strengthened the regiment of cadets and all aspects of regimental life and the summer sea term experience. He led working groups to improve license-exam pass rates and to strengthen the cadet experience.

Smith helped generations of students develop as leaders in the regiment; on the training ship; in the classroom, where he was an instructor in the Department of Marine Transportation; and in competition, as the coach of the champion men and women’s rowing teams.

Smith’s experience, leadership and knowledge of Empire State VI were integral to Empire State’s relief missions with the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Sandy, Harvey, Irma and Maria. Each time, Smith helped ensure the ship was able to assist national recovery efforts as quickly as possible.

“As the longest-serving commandant in the college’s history and as master of T/S Empire State, Capt. Smith has been a valuable source of knowledge, a trusted adviser and an inspirational leader,” said Rear Adm. Michael Alfultis, president of SUNY Maritime College. “I join the rest of the college community in thanking Capt. Smith for his decades of service and the lasting impact he has made at Maritime College, and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

The college is developing a transition plan for the master of Empire State role.

By Professional Mariner Staff