2° 47.02′ E by 39° 56.715′ N.
Course: 255° Speed: 15.3 knots
UTC: 6/15/2008 at 17:34:57

Au Revoir France — Toulon was our harbor, located in the Provence-Alpes Côte-d’Azur region; a port that is the city of the French navy the largest military naval base of the Mediterranean Coast and permanent home of many sailors. Ravaged by the black plague in 1720, and liberated from the British in 1793 by a young captain named Napoleon Bonaparte. There were olives and cheese, wine and herbs, lavender, sunshine and red sunsets behind the mountain peaks.

Our new destination is Liverpool, England. Life and work aboard the Ship is a 24/7 operation divided by intervals of four hours. The striking of the Ship’s bell marks the intervals of each watch. At sea, we often forget what day of the week it is; days are marked as days at sea and days at port. Not as Monday through Sunday. Time is also determined by our Ship’s position, which is constantly changing.

This afternoon, our Admiral (and college president) took me down to #6 Hold where the engineering labs on the Ship are located. The engine cadets were cutting, fixing, fabricating, welding and reconstructing all sorts of parts and devices using all sorts of machinery. I was amazed at their skills and abilities; as amazed as I was at seeing the Deck cadets charting our course and navigating the Ship. The Admiral turned to me and said, “Constantia, when we are at sea and something breaks we must be able to fix it.” This was not a simple statement as I realized the meaning of his words. The engineers must be able to take a scrap of metal and reconstruct a needed part and make it work. We are a floating city, we generate our electricity, we make our water; we chart and propel our course; we rely on each other’s abilities and expertise to keep our Ship operational and the shipboard community safe. On the EMPIRE STATE we learn and practice what we teach. The Ship is the essence and the natural element of our studies. More importantly, the EMPIRE STATE is our community and our home.

With the Ship’s Librarian in charge of the Ship’s library’s operations, I have taken the opportunity to maximize the library’s presence on the Ship by integrating myself and my activities in all aspects of the Ship’s operations. I have been attending classes, standing watch with the cadets, spending time on the bridge and in the chart room, spotting stars at night and learning to use the sextant. One of the cadets said to me, “Ma’am, we see you everywhere, are they making you do this or do you just like doing it?”. I had to smile and after a short pause I said, “No, they are not making me do this … I am here to learn what you are learning and anything I learn from you, I will bring back to the library ashore and make it a better library”. “That’s neat,” she replied.

It was that moment when I realized that the library is no longer the “heart of the college”, the library is right here, positioned at the crossroads of its community. Today is the Mediterranean Sea, tomorrow we will be somewhere else. The Library travels, morphs and evolves; it builds relationships, and shares in the excitement and the enthusiasm of learning and exploration. In the morning, I put on the boiler suit and the steel-toe boots, I roll up my sleeves and I participate in what our cadets do. I connect with them, I relate to them and during this brief time of their lives, I take part in who they are and in what they aspire to become.

Constantia Constantinou
Library Director, Department Chair
Aboard T.S Empire State VI
SUNY Maritime College


One Comment

  1. Ann
    Posted June 21, 2008 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Dear Constantia,
    Thanks so much for the update, we parents miss the ships log updates that dwindled on the SUNY Maritime site. All updates are very welcome. 😀
    Thanks Again,
    Ann Cooney, Cadet’s Parent

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