Training Programs


The United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps is a program for young boys and girls ages 13 to 17.  It is sponsored by the Navy League of the United States, and was formed in 1958 by Public Law 87-655 and is a non-profit organization.  There is NO military obligation involved.  The purpose of the Naval Sea Cadet Corps is to:

"…To encourage and aid American youth to develop an interest in basic seamanship…to train them in seagoing skills, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance and kindred virtues."

Each summer one or more 10 day training periods are conducted.  This offers cadets the opportunity to receive an outstanding experience.

The training is broker into two sections: 

1.Naval Training

2.Safe Boating School

Some topics of the Naval Training section are:

  • Aids to Navigation
  • Basic Navigation
  • Damage Control
  • Fire Fighting
  • Knot Tying
  • Lifesaving
  • Naval Core Values
  • Safety Procedures
  • Visual Signaling
  • Watchstanding

Items covered in Safe Boating:

  • The Boat
  • Legal Requirements
  • Preparation
  • Operations
  • Accidents
  • Special Items (locks, dams, etc.)
  • Environmental Awareness and Protection

The adventure of a lifetime begins…

Cadets reporting aboard the MANATRA learn the basics of nautical life with training in morning colors (the raising of the flag), proper wearing of safety helmets and flotation gear, and salty seamanship skills like the working of knots and the throwing of lines for distance and accuracy.  After training the new shipmates set sail from Chicago DuSable Harbor across from Navy Pier.  Our summer sailors steam out of the Chicago locks on a trip around Lake Michigan, stopping at various ports to visit maritime sites and train with the U.S. Coast Guard station units.

The training is very intensive and is very much a "hands-on" experience.  Through a combination of classroom and active participation aboard ship, the cadets are prepared to handle all aspects of the training cruise, with appropriate supervision.

This type of experience, where self-reliance, teamwork and leadership dominate are few and far between in today's world.

This is what makes MANATRA a unique organization.



As the only naval training vessel located on Lake Michigan, MANATRA also serves as a training vessel for college and university students participating in Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) programs.  NROTC officer candidates from Midwestern universities, including Northwestern, IIT, Ohio State, Notre Dame, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois, train aboard throughout the season.  Often aboard with Sea Cadets, officer candidates learn and practice ship handling, navigation, piloting, seamanship, firefighting, rescue, and leadership skills, providing an outstanding model for the younger Sea Cadets.  Under the command of Navy officers assigned to the NROTC programs, candidates sometimes experience their very first "sea duty" aboard MANATRA.


The Chicago metropolitan area also has several high schools with Junior NROTC programs.  These units also participate in onboard training during the academic year, both underway and fast cruises, learning the skills and teamwork necessary for their programs.