August 2016

Dear educators:

We are writing to invite you to participate in the Adopt-a-Ship program, a joint effort of the U.S. Maritime Administration and the International Propeller Club of the United States. 

The Adopt-a-Ship program pairs each participating classroom with a ship of the American Merchant Marine, to learn about the role of maritime transportation, and provide real-world examples relevant to students’ course of study.  As students communicate with ships’ crews on topics ranging from everyday life onboard ship, to cargoes and destinations, they gain new interest in math, geography, history, trade and transportation.  At the same time, they learn about the transportation mode that is responsible for more than 90% of world trade—including products we use every day—and the opportunities it provides.

Participating ships agree to answer communications received from the classroom to which they have been paired.  For most of the 80 year history of the program, this was done in writing by postal mail.  However, today’s technology may permit classrooms and ships to connect in entirely new ways, perhaps including e-mail, video conferencing, faxes, or even automated ship tracking systems.  Early contact between each classroom and its assigned ship can be used to identify the best modes of communication.

The Adopt-a-Ship program welcomes participation from Kindergarten to 12th grade classrooms. Discussion topics and their application to the classroom curriculum will naturally vary according to students’ ages, from elementary students who learn geography by tracking their ship’s routes to high school students who use ships’ route and cargo data to design and solve complex equations, or who compare modern life aboard ship to examples in their literature studies.  We look forward to hearing from teachers about the many other ways they integrate Adopt a Ship into their lesson plans.

You and your students will embark upon an exciting journey with your assigned vessel.  All the while, communications from classrooms offer ships’ crews a welcome diversion from the routine at sea. 

For more information, visit  Or to register your classroom to participate, go to

Best regards,

R. Andrew Riester                                         Sashi Kumar, Ph.D.                                    
Executive Vice President                                        National Coordinator MET                      
International Propeller Club of the U.S.                  Maritime Administration        

Disclaimer: the Maritime Administration’s participation in the Adopt-a-Ship program
does not imply endorsement of any private organization, entity, or enterprise.


Each year ships and their masters are needed to volunteer to be adopted and share experiences with a classroom of young students. Shipping companies that wish to participate in the Adopt-a-Ship program should email to get additional information.

International President Sonny Smith of Paducah, Ky., and U.S. Maritime Administrator Paul N. “Chip” Jaenichen sign a Memorandum of Understanding to continue the partnership between the Club and Marad to promote the Adopt-a-Ship program.