2014 Sea Cadet Training


Success Stories

Sometimes we wonder if we get positive results from all the time, effort and finances needed to properly maintain and operate T/V MANATRA as a training platform.  We usually cannot see immediate results, but the long run has reaped fine examples.

Commander Ed Fairbairn, USN:  Sailed about MANATRA II while an Explorer Scout in high school, worked as a deckhand and quartermaster.  Went on and graduated FIRST in his class at the United States Merchant Marine Academy.  Executive Officer on a Navy Destroyer and an Amphibious Landing Ship.

Captain Mike Sherman, USMC:  Engine room trainee and then went on to graduate from the United States Naval Academy and became a Marine helicopter pilot.

Lieutenant Jerod McCaimbridge, USN:  Rode the train every Saturday to work in the engine room.  United States Naval Academy Graduate, a helicopter pilot for the U.S. Navy, and then entered the priesthood.

George Kronk:  Engine room trainee.  Graduate of Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City, Michigan.  Now a Chief Engineer on Great Lakes Ships.

Capt. Kelly O'Connor:  Worked as a deckhand and quartermaster while in high school, enlisted in the United States Navy upon graduation, serving on Frigates and Submarines, now Cruise boat skipper, marine consultant and vessel delivery operator.

Captain Tony Jurincie:  Attended the Soreat Hakum Maritime Academy.  Became a Ship Officer, a building engineer and one of the T/V MANATRA Captains.

Captain Jack Hadfield:  Entered the USCG, got his license and was the vessel's Chief Engineer and is also one of its Captains.

These are just some of the many examples of where our trainees have gone and are the reasons we continue to provide an outstanding experience for young people. Many of our MANATRA members and shipmates have served, or are continuing to serve, in the Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine.

Training Programs


The United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps is a program for young boys and girls ages 13 to 17.  It is sponsored by the Navy League of the United States, and was formed in 1958 by Public Law 87-655 and is a non-profit organization.  There is NO military obligation involved.  The purpose of the Naval Sea Cadet Corps is to:

"…To encourage and aid American youth to develop an interest in basic seamanship…to train them in seagoing skills, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance and kindred virtues."

Each summer one or more 10 day training periods are conducted.  This offers cadets the opportunity to receive an outstanding experience.

The training is broker into two sections: 

1.Naval Training

2.Safe Boating School

Some topics of the Naval Training section are:

  • Aids to Navigation
  • Basic Navigation
  • Damage Control
  • Fire Fighting
  • Knot Tying
  • Lifesaving
  • Naval Core Values
  • Safety Procedures
  • Visual Signaling
  • Watchstanding

Items covered in Safe Boating:

  • The Boat
  • Legal Requirements
  • Preparation
  • Operations
  • Accidents
  • Special Items (locks, dams, etc.)
  • Environmental Awareness and Protection

The adventure of a lifetime begins…

Cadets reporting aboard the MANATRA learn the basics of nautical life with training in morning colors (the raising of the flag), proper wearing of safety helmets and flotation gear, and salty seamanship skills like the working of knots and the throwing of lines for distance and accuracy.  After training the new shipmates set sail from Chicago DuSable Harbor across from Navy Pier.  Our summer sailors steam out of the Chicago locks on a trip around Lake Michigan, stopping at various ports to visit maritime sites and train with the U.S. Coast Guard station units.

The training is very intensive and is very much a "hands-on" experience.  Through a combination of classroom and active participation aboard ship, the cadets are prepared to handle all aspects of the training cruise, with appropriate supervision.

This type of experience, where self-reliance, teamwork and leadership dominate are few and far between in today's world.

This is what makes MANATRA a unique organization.



As the only naval training vessel located on Lake Michigan, MANATRA also serves as a training vessel for college and university students participating in Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) programs.  NROTC officer candidates from Midwestern universities, including Northwestern, IIT, Ohio State, Notre Dame, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois, train aboard throughout the season.  Often aboard with Sea Cadets, officer candidates learn and practice ship handling, navigation, piloting, seamanship, firefighting, rescue, and leadership skills, providing an outstanding model for the younger Sea Cadets.  Under the command of Navy officers assigned to the NROTC programs, candidates sometimes experience their very first "sea duty" aboard MANATRA.


The Chicago metropolitan area also has several high schools with Junior NROTC programs.  These units also participate in onboard training during the academic year, both underway and fast cruises, learning the skills and teamwork necessary for their programs.


In 1946, following the end of World War II, a group of Coast Guard reservists formed the Marine Navigation and Training Association, Inc., MANATRA,  in order to provide an opportunity for retired or discharged military and merchant marine personnel to practice seamanship and leadership skills aboard a vessel.  

Applying to the Navy for consideration under the Navy's excess equipment program, the group went to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and acquired a 110-foot Navy submarine chaser in bad condition.  Using their own skills, and the skills of ex-Navy and Merchant Marine volunteers who joined the group, the vessel was brought to seaworthy condition and named MANATRA I.  

During these early years, the vessel was docked on the North Branch of the Chicago River, eventually moving to the old Randolph Street Naval Armory which was, at that time, just south of the locks on the Chicago River.  

In the 1950's, members began to bring their children aboard.  Some of these young people were members of the Sea Scouts or Boy Scouts, and those groups began to develop an interest in MANATRA.  A Sea Scout group chartered the vessel for a week in 1963 and the relationship with Sea Scouts began to become more formal.  

During the 1960's , MANATRA ran eight-day cruises from Chicago to Mackinaw Island for members and Sea Scouts, using the trips for training in seamanship, watch standing, navigation and leadership and teamwork.  About twenty young people were aboard each voyage. 


"Building a Great Seagoing Tradition on the Great Lakes"

A Chicago based non-profit organization made up of volunteers from different backgrounds and various skills who share two common interests:

  • PRIDE in America's Maritime Heritage
  • The IMPORTANCE of teaching today's youth LEADERSHIP and TEAMWORK 

Each year, from April through October, young people from throughout the United States participate in this educational program.  Since 1946 over 10,000 young people have boarded the ships and learned seamanship and personal development skills.

This all volunteer organization is composed largely of retired Navy, Coast Guard, Merchant Mariners and other volunteers.  These volunteers give approximately 4,000 – 5,000 hours each year to MANATRA.

If you have seagoing experience, or related shore based experience such as electrician, fireman, carpenter, engineer or just would like to learn and help out, find out how you can join our group.  Military experience is not required.

The association's flagship, T/V MANATRA, is a former Yard Patrol vessel, used by the U.S. Navy to train midshipman. Her primary function is the support of the Naval Sea Cadet Corps.

We operate in cooperation with the Navy League of the United States, a civilian patriotic organization in support of the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine.

We also provide joint NSCC/United States Coast Guard training as well as an orientation to the United States Merchant Marine.

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