BALTIMORE (WJZ)—It wasn’t your usual field trip, but then neither is life at sea.

Alex DeMetrick reports both elements came together Wednesday at Baltimore’s port.

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They’re two of the federal Maritime Administration’s largest ships, immense cargo haulers used in war and disaster relief and occasionally recruiting.

On Wednesday, Maryland high school students were welcomed aboard.

“To show the younger generation what it is the maritime industry does,” said David Matsuda, Maritime Administration.

Civilians run the government ships, and took questions ranging from technical operations to sea stories. Radar couldn’t compete with pirates.

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“I’ve gone through pirate waters and I’ve actually heard an encounter on the VHF radio, when I actually heard machine guns in the background,” said Chief Mate Jan Geneming.

Wet weather kept the tour indoors, but the students saw enough to form some strong first impressions.

“It’s just a lot of technology.  You’ve got to know what you’re doing when you go on a boat,” said Jeramy Lovedo, student.

“I’ve been on a ship before,” said My’Chelle Latta, student. But “this is like that military stuff.  The one I went on was a cruise.”

This brief exposure to a different way of living and working is what the tour is all about.

“If we provide the information to the bulk of these guys who at least appear to be interested today, someone will walk away with an opportunity they didn’t know about,” said Captain Ed Gantt, retired U.S. Navy.

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The ship toured Wednesday is part of the nation’s ready reserve fleet, which can be put to sea within five days of being ordered.