When the Training Ship Docked at Fort Trumbull
Training ships are a long-established feature of maritime training programs, whether for the Merchant Marine, Coast Guard or Navy. Most instruction at Fort Trumbull took place in classrooms and simulated shipboard facilities (including a "bridge" atop one of the school buildings), but an impressive training ship, USMS Training Vessel American Mariner, visited from time to time for short cruises into Long Island Sound for real-life shipboard training and experience.
American Mariner was a 10,000 ton Liberty Ship launched at Baltimore in 1941 that was converted to a training ship the next year. Her later history is unusually interesting: after the war she became a Coast Guard training ship, then the training ship serving the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point. From 1953 to 1956 she was mothballed, then chosen to be used as a missile tracking ship, serving until 1964 in both the Atlantic and Pacific. While in the Pacific she radar-tracked NASA Astronaut Wally Schirra's Project Mercury transits high overhead. But her time was up, and in 1966 she was scuttled in Chesapeake Bay for naval target practice, a sad end for the only ship to serve all four military branches in addition to the Merchant Marine.