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The training capacity of the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) in Kingston has been significantly boosted by its acquisition of 60-foot yacht, valued at $20 million (US$200,000).

The vessel, the “M/Y Penny Reel”, is a gift from the Matalon Family, and will be incorporated in the CMI’s training programme.

Features of the yacht, which can accommodate 30 persons and has two stories, include a recreational area; bar; kitchen; three rooms; three bathrooms; and a dining area.

It was formally handed over to the CMI by Joseph M. Matalon, during a commissioning ceremony on Wednesday, April 24, at the institution’s jetty at Palisadoes Park, Norman Manley Highway.

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Mr. Matalon said the decision to donate the yacht, which was acquired by the family a number of years ago, was taken during a meeting they had recently.

“We are very pleased, indeed, to be in a position to support the educational efforts of the institute in the very promising areas of seamanship, and hope very much that this vessel will be put to good use in training the many aspiring seaman students of the CMI,” he said.

Minister without Portfolio, Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Morais Guy, expressed gratitude for the gesture, pointing out that the Government welcomes donations that facilitate training and development in Jamaica.

“Your contribution has demonstrated your continued belief in the capacity of our country for excellence. You have now enabled the premier educational institution of choice for higher learning, training, research and consultancy in maritime activities in the western hemisphere, to realize the dream of owning a yacht, which can now provide a training armamentarium to its multifaceted course offerings,” he noted.

Dr. Guy said the donation will also serve to better position Jamaica in this “rapidly growing” segment of maritime activity and, “once more, re-affirm the CMI’s leading position as a centre of excellence for tertiary maritime education in the Caribbean.”

In his remarks, CMI Executive Director, Dr. Fritz Pinnock, described the Matalons’ gesture as an “awesome blessing”, adding that “you are showing that you believe in your country, and we are transforming Jamaica.”

The commissioning ceremony, which followed included the reading of the Commissioning Order by Dr. Guy, blessing of the yacht, a ribbon cutting exercise, and the traditional practice of smashing a bottle of wine against the vessel’s hull.

By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter