This vessel, along with all other U.S. maritime academies’ training vessels, is owned by the U.S. Department of Transportation through the federal Maritime Administration. Each academy leases its vessel to support and fulfill its academic mission.
However, the General Rudder’s small size, restricted range and slow speed preclude its use in the academy’s extended summer training cruises. For these experiences, university officials coordinate the sharing of vessels from other U.S. maritime academies.
The General Rudder’s limited capacity also hampers its ability to serve its secondary role as a FEMA support vessel. Previous Texas A&M University at Galveston training ships have provided relief to U.S. Gulf Coast communities following natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina.
Despite the pressing need, a replacement ship is not currently available in the U.S. reserve fleet. Texas A&M University officials are working with state officials to appropriate federal funds for a replacement.