After seeing the training programs at both SUNY and Kings Point, I have to say that both have their flaws. I’ve been an officer on both training ships, and have seen two distinctly different groups of kids. But, I’ve seen kids from KP look at me with blank stares when I ask what the signal for Fire and Emergency is, and I’ve seen kids from SUNY ignore me when I yell Man Overboard on the bridge.
I do agree that not all training time should be on a training vessel, but I do NOT agree that all training time should be on commercial vessels. There are things that you learn on a training ship that you probablyh will not learn on a commercial ship. You can make mistakes on a training ship and not get your head taken off.
I had a plebe from Kings Point on the wheel for her first time, and she really wasn’t doing so well (like 20 degrees off course). I said something to her, and then watched her. She actually looked at me and said “Oh, so when I turn the wheel to the left, the numbers get smaller!” and smiled cutely. Now, it’s a training ship, and I have no problem teaching and hearing comments like this, but if she was on a commercial ship with the wrong Chief Mate, that probably would have ruined the rest of her trip.
I think the ideal system would be to do at least a trip on a training ship and learn the basics around people who are willing to teach you and understand some of the stupid things that kids new to shipping say. Once you’ve learned the basics, unleash them on the commercial world where the can get more time on the bridge than they could on a training ship.