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SMART and SIU Team up to Recruit the Next Generation of Mariners

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Recognizing the critical need for trained, credentialed mariners the SMART Center is teaming up with the Seafarers International Union (SIU) to expand awareness of the SIU Unlicensed Apprentice program at Paul Hall Center in Piney Point, Maryland.

The Unlicensed Apprentice (UA) Program is the largest training program for entry level seafarers in the United States. It is designed to prepare students with little or no maritime experience for a seafaring career. 

There is no charge for tuition or room and board for the one year long program which includes a combination of classroom training and apprenticeship on board a vessel. The Program is broken down as follows:

Phase I – fifteen (15) weeks of entry level training at the Piney Point, MD school.

Phase II – ninety (90) days or more shipboard training as a non-crew member unlicensed apprentice. This includes thirty (30) days in each department with required completion of a designated sea project. Apprentices receive a stipend while they are training on board the vessel during Phase II. 

Phase III – seven (7) weeks of follow -up training in Piney Point. This phase focuses on the specific skills of each department (deck, engine and steward).

Phase IV – employment as an entry level crew member on a designated SIU-contracted vessel for a minimum of 120 days.

Phase V – completion of department specific upgrading classes in deck or engine department. Upon successful completion of upgrade, the apprentice will receive a probationary Union book as a member of the SIU with B-seniority, which is the second highest level of seniority. You must successfully complete all five phases in order to receive credit for the UA program and it must be done within one year of your completion of Phase III or you will be discontinued and your seniority will be dropped to C-seniority.

Training covers the duties and responsibilities of seamanship in the three shipboard departments: deck, engine and steward, through a curriculum that includes both classroom learning and hands-on training. Skills that are taught include:

Deck – marlinespike seamanship, cargo handling, watch standing duties, routine maintenance regimes and shipboard safety.

Engine – diesel and steam plant familiarization, use and care of tools and equipment and shipboard safety.

Steward – food preparation fundamentals, handling stores, nutrition, shipboard sanitation, laundry operations and shipboard safety.

Students are required to take classes concerning shipboard emergencies and operations including: fire fighting, water survival, first aid, CPR, industrial relations and social responsibilities on board a vessel. Each course is designed to provide the students with skills and knowledge to perform safely and effectively aboard a ship. Apprentices also learn about citizenship and individual responsibility through a series of classroom discussions and visits to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and the SIU Headquarters in Camp Springs, Maryland. The prospective seafarer will also learn about the nature of the shipping industry, the economics of marine transportation, and government policies and regulation that affect the vitality of the U.S. fleet.

Applicants seeking admission to the UA Program must meet general physical requirements as well as:
• Be 18 or older.
• Be eligible to work in the United States.
• Be able to meet all U.S. Coast Guard qualifications/requirements for the issuance and upgrades of a Merchant Mariner’s Credential.  Do not currently hold a MMC above OS, WI, SD(FH).  Must also obtain a USCG issued 2 year STCW medical certificate.
• Be able to obtain a Transportation Workers Identification Card (TWIC) issued by TSA.
• Not be on any form of probation or parole. If convicted of any crime other than a minor traffic violaton you will required to submit a final court disposition(s).

To learn more about the UA program and the application process please contact the Admissions Office at 301-994-0010, prompt 2 or email Admissions@seafarers.org.