Texas Maritime Academy

By: Joseph G. Dawson III

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: July 1, 1995

Texas Maritime Academy, in Galveston, was a component of the Texas A&M University System. During its existence it was the only maritime academy on the Gulf Coast, and only the fifth state maritime academy founded to train officers for the United States Flag Fleet (Merchant Marine). Members of the Propeller Club and a number of Galveston business leaders expressed interest in an academy on the Gulf in 1958. When a group of Galveston citizens, led by Rear Adm. Sherman B. Wetmore, United States Naval Reserve, investigated the possibility of a state charter for a nautical school, they learned that a state law passed in 1931 provided for such a school. The law had lain dormant because a rider prohibited use of state funds for the purpose. But in 1959 the rider was lifted, and in 1961 the state legislature authorized a small appropriation for the school. The first class enrolled in September 1962, and cadets were graduated in May 1966, with accredited bachelor of science degrees from Texas A&M University in either marine engineering or marine transportation. After taking examinations administered by the United States Coast Guard, graduates could be licensed as third mates or third assistant engineers in the Merchant Marine. The academy was located in a building on the old Fort Crockett military reservation. In addition, it had the loan of a 15,000-ton training ship, the Texas Clipper, from the Maritime Administration of the United States Department of Commerce. In 1968 the Mitchell-Dobbins Land Corporation presented the academy with a gift of forty acres on Pelican Island, and the Moody Foundation gave $1 million to develop the campus next to a proposed oceanographic center on Pelican Island. Until the academy had its own facilities, and for a time afterward, freshmen attended the main campus of Texas A&M University at College Station and then completed the rest of their education in Galveston. Each class participated in three ten-week training cruises, as required by federal law. Capt. Bennett M. Dodson served as the academy's first superintendent, from 1962 to 1967, and was succeeded by Rear Adm. James D. Craik (1968–72) and Capt. John W. Smith (1973–77). In 1971 the Maritime Academy was incorporated into the Moody College of Marine Sciences and Maritime Resources, which was later renamed Texas A&M University at Galveston.

Henry C. Dethloff, A Centennial History of Texas A&M University, 1876–1976 (2 vols., College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1975).


  • Education
  • Non-traditional Learning Centers and Special Programs

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Joseph G. Dawson III, “Texas Maritime Academy,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 17, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-maritime-academy.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995