Panama has its first school ship

After many decades of waiting the International Maritime University of Panama has its own ship to train future seafarers. The vessel, called Atlas III, was donated by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) on August 27.

The transfer of title ceremony took place at the UMIP and had the verification and guarantee of the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

The ship was refurbished and repaired under the instructions of the UMIP rector, Aládar Rodríguez Díaz. The works were carried out by captains, Ernesto Cordovez and Faustino Gonzalez._


A press release of the UMIP said that the school ship will help cadets and biology students combine theory with practice.

According to the merchant navy expert, Captain Demostenes Sanchez having a school ship is very important for the cadets, because “practical training is mandatory in our profession. The Atlas III will allow practical training from the beginning of the career, under the training scheme required by the STCW Seafarers Training and Certification Agreement.”

“Previously, the ACP carried out familiarization on board, but now everything will be aligned to complement the university curriculum and the courses required by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). It will also allow work and even trips where the cadets will experience living on board in small groups of approximately 25 students,” added Sanchez.

“The officer in training will be able to undertake theoretical and advanced simulation exercises with practical experiences. It is important to note that the UMIP has been repairing and conditioning the Atlas III for several years. The naval engineering work has been carried out by professors and students. The ACP donated the ship after it found out that the university could put it in shape. Here is its practical value,” said Sanchez.

Talking about how the practical training will help cadets to find jobs, Sanchez said that “the issue of finding a job more easily is not solved with a school ship. What I can say is that the practical experience from the beginning of the career will help future officials to know what they are getting into at the same time, so that those who persist will be more competent before the boarding period required by IMO. It will also serve to acquire skills that are not obtained in a classroom, or with simulation. This will make them more competitive against officials of other nationalities.”

Sanchez also reflected about how the school ship will benefit the country’s reputation. “The benefit goes beyond what could be demonstrated by improving the competitiveness of the marine officer who trains on board. The International Maritime University of Panama and therefore, the country now has a platform from which marine research tasks can be carried out and other students of the marine sciences could participate.”

“The fact that the Atlas III is now a floating training and future research platform is the result of the joint work of officials from ACP, AMP, UMIP, officers and nautical teachers, businessmen and Panamanian Association of Marine Officers (APOM), who knocked on doors and worked tirelessly so that this ship could start its new cycle. This new phase will require continued support from the sector. It is here where we will project a united seafront to the world through the operation of Atlas III for the benefit of the sector,” concluded Sanchez.

About Atlas III

This vessel was built nationally in 1934 at the facilities of the Panama Canal Mechanical Division’s Balboa Shops, today Braswell. It began operations as a transport ship for construction material, then it was used for the repair and maintenance of lighthouses in the Caribbean area, in the former Canal Commission.


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