Questions about Work Boat Academy

How has the WBA worked for you?
I am retiring from the USCG in 2020, I’ll be 42. I am looking at the WBA route also. Either MITAGS in Baltimore or Seattle, not sure yet.

I know several that have gone this route and worked with a few. It’s a great 2yr program.
Most companies lay you OS wages and will pay you AB wages when you upgrade in a year.

Thanks for watching over us !

Was your USCG rate not a watch standing one?

I stood both Navigational (QMOW) and Underway Officer of the Deck (OOD). I’m either looking at Limited or Unlimited, as the latter obviously gives the best options I suppose. Specifically looking at the OSV or Towing industry.
Through the WBA program, with whom I have been talking to, my transcript of sea service would allow me to test 3M unlimited. I am choosing the apprentice route instead of just testing for a number of reasons. First, I am seeking more thorough knowledge of the requirements, than those that I learned through the CG qualification system we have in the CG. I wish to have more hands on and classroom with subjects like celestial, RADAR/ ARPA, the ECDIS etc. I’m not a great test taker. And not that great at the mathematics. Amazing how I have navigated all over this world without hitting a rock or shoal.
Secondly, I believe, the apprentice route will better set me up on a workboat, after I receive both classroom and on-hands learning that one would find on a platform such as a tug or OSV. In the CG, we do not tow much anymore, at least not on the large cutters I sail on. We also do not do the same type operations, so I’m thinking instead of coming out the gates with a fresh ink license, I should at least learn the ropes on a working boat.
Thanks for any points of direction-

They’re obviously going to encourage you to attend their program, but if that’s what you really want to do I guess give it a go. Why are you so keen on working on tugs?

The towing and offshore supply industry is interesting to me given the dynamic and diverse operations these sectors involve themselves. I have worked with both during my long career in the CG. The salvage operations is of great interest to me, though I know this is only a niche within the workboat community.

The WBA seems the best route for my situation, and allowing me to obtain both hands-on knowledge and come away with proper license and endorsements. I have also considered just obtaining my AB with appropriate endorsements , and seeking a job down in LA with one of the “Big Companies” after I retire.

If your desire is to work on Tugs and or Salvage I think you would be better served in the WBA. The big companies have very few AHTS operating these days which would severely limit your ability to complete your TOAR and bet any type of meaningful towing experience. IMHO

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They don’t call it Workboat Academy anymore. It’s “Maritime Apprenticeship Programs”. One offers 3/M and the other offers 500/1600 ton.


I understand where you are coming from. Your heart is in the right place, but your head is not.

Workboat Academy would be a waste of two years and a lot of lost wages. You do not need it.

If you can test for 3rd Mate, you should do so ASAP, preferably before you retire from the USCG. If you have enough towing seatime to get Mate of Towing, go take a one day TOAR course and get that too.

Many companies like to hire younger USCG retirees.

Some of the larger tug companies, especially oil transport, will only hire guys with unlimited licenses. I think many companies would definitely prefer an unlimited license.

As a USCG retiree with Third Mate, you will have no problem finding jobs as a tugboat AB that pay over $300 a day. You will learn a lot doing the actual work (same as being a Workboat Academy “cadet”). If you get Mate of Towing, you will do even better.

You can become a good tugboat Mate with a Master 1600 and Master of Towing license, and two years of real work experience, before you could even complete the Workboat Academy.

I’m not knocking Workboat Academy. I’ve sailed with some good young men from that program. However, it’s for entry level guys with no experience, or at least, a lot less experience than you have.


What do you think all the 3rd mate unlimited academy graduates have? Fresh ink! They have much less experience and wisdom than you and take these jobs you are scared to take.

Do as you please, but you are wasting lots of time and money needlessly training. The US Government isn’t picking up your training tab and paying you a salary at the same time anymore. 2+ years of lost wages is huge.

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