Siu Apprenternship Program

For starters I went through the mid Atlantic academy before getting here which gave me BT and a lot of other certifications before even doing anything at the apprenticeship, what I thought was a good thing turned out to be horrible they literally throw you in the galley for 14-16 hours aside me being the deck department and your literally forced to work all day for $20 a week which is paid biweekly … too be honest if you want to waste time I would say go there it was a complete waste in summary I would call it a fake military bootcamp where they just want to regulate everything you do down to what you wear for basically no pay goodluck to anyone who signs up for the " slave " program in the future

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Sorry you had a bad experience there. I’m sure there is much more to to your story. The beginnings of the stint are partial “culling programs” to identify cadets/students who will stick it out before they invest more into their future. My experiences with SIU have always been positive. Mike Sacco always shook my hand when I came back to upgrade. Yes, I did peel potatos in the beginning. Not much better than what I was doing before.No regrets at all. Am happily retired from a great career as an offshore tug/atb captain.with AMO. Many thanks to SIU for giving me a shot in my late teens as banging nails and putting in swimming pools was not for me.

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Too bad you were not able to get through it, maybe it just wasn’t your thing. Did you not realize going in there would be uniforms, a regimented day and exposure to all 3 departments? I know a couple really solid folks currently sailing Master who describe it just as you did and made the best of the opportunity the SIU gave them.

We paid $450 for uniforms don’t you think I knew about it in advance ? Lol be serious your missing my point I rode tugs for a while before this the boats/ships are nothing like that basically I’m saying the military style shit was POINTLESS and that’s good for you. it wasn’t I couldn’t complete it cause like I stated above I completed a maritime bootcamp before I have BASIC TRAINING AND A LOT MORE CERTs I didn’t need . The problem was it’s 2024 cost of living is high I can’t afford to sit through a 4 month program making Pennies while doing slave work I have bills . Now if that worked out for you and your buddies go have a beer and celebrate for yourself trust me working that many hours for $20 is not a dam oppurtunity

So… What are you doing now?

I don’t think you really understood the program. You went to Mid Atlantic Academy and rode tugs before starting SIU’s Apprentice program thinking you wouldn’t have to go through all the hoops and requirements everyone else does. It doesn’t work that way. The program IS the program, no exceptions.
If you had your MMC and a bunch of certificates (as you say), you should have joined as a “C” Book and gone on from there.

I will add that my son went through the Apprentice program.


Not just SIU’s policy, but the terms of the Coast Guard approval of the program. You can’t omit or pick and choose parts of the program, it’s all or nothing as far as what the Coast Guard granted the program.


The program is, after all, mostly for feral young men participating in state-mandated diversion programs to keep them out of jail, and SIU enjoys the grant money for this very much. At some point these men need to be civilized and housebroken, thus the environment. It’s not much different from juvie, although juvie pays the trusties a little more in canteenbux than SIU does while learning to shake paws and not pee on the linoleum.
It’s certainly not (and this is a general observation, not my words and not directed at anyone) geared for young WASP’s from Good Homes.

I am going to have to say that is BS, It is a vocational school for those looking for a way into this industry.

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It is also that, yes.

I completed the first 3 phases of the program at age 28. The initial phase is a kid’s version of boot camp. If you have a sense of humor and a little bit of intuition it’s a piece of cake. I made senior gate guard (which just meant I made the schedule and pushed the “open” button as any car approached) early on and used that to get out of the really dumb stuff and just laughed at everything else.

There were some guys with criminal records and hard pasts that were on the verge of not making it in society. The ones looking to turn their life around did great. The ones with too much pride and ego struggled and bitched constantly about how pointless it all was. As if repetitive unskilled labor isn’t part of life on a ship or tug for almost any rating!

My second phase 120-day ship assignment was on the El Faro. I enjoyed it, but it was eye opening. Even as an unlicensed apprentice I got the sense that things were sketchy. Sadly, we all know what happened to that ship and the people on it a few years later.

After third phase I went home to be called for my first assignment on a ship. After 4 months of waiting, I got myself a job with the first tug company that returned my call and have never looked back. It was 6 months after completing third phase that the SIU called, and by then I was halfway to tankerman on a tug and working in Miami. It was an easy choice for me to stay on tugs.


Some people can put up with the tin-pot regiment stuff, some can’t. Having to do this for 4 months at $20 week seems pretty Stone Age in 2024, I must admit. Also, having to try and civilize feral youngsters just so they can ship out with feral adults doesn’t really make much sense either. It’s a wild and whacky industry, for sure.

I never really understood the quasi-military stuff because it doesn’t exist in the industry. American mariners (outside of MSC officers) don’t wear uniforms, they wear rags, maybe a boiler suit, or worse. They don’t have nor do they respect military bearing. They barely respect authority in any way at all. They don’t maintain military haircuts or facial hair. In fact nearly everything about the American mariner is the exact opposite of military style. The American mariner gets the job done in a way and manner and style that is totally not military in any manner. So the fake regimental stuff at the academies and schools is roundly mocked out in the fleet.


The military stuff is a holdover from WW2/Korea, when MM ships were presumed to sail in a convoy, and interact with Navy sailors and soldiers under military discipline. Back 100 years ago a selling point to the taxpayer to subsidize the MM was that the MM would serve as another arm of military defense. The military aspects of academies/schools were a way to show this.

All of this was thought out by MARAD and its predecessors in another age, one with different cultural norms than today, and different goals. Inertia keeps it going along, which is true of MARAD itself.

If we were embroiled in a world war every ten years, it would all make sense. We aren’t so it doesn’t.


Agree to a point Freighterman. The program at SIU is what the Marad required for granting purposes. The boy scout quasi “Boot Camp” stuff was/is so easy to do. Many of the attendees/candidates have never been exposed or welcomed any type of that discipline, however LOL is hard for them.We are not in a world war, but in many conflicts. I would hope that a ship supplying arms and materials has at least some trainng in following orders. Yes, us on the tugs wear street clothes and perhaps rags. Some wear company provided overalls and shoes, As another poster on this thread, I volunteered for security duty. Had to check bilges on one of my beats to President Kennedys yacht “Manitou”. We sneakily cooked some delicious Maryland Blue crabs on there one night…I got $15 bucks a week initially, $30 bucks after “security”. No marching,good grub, and a decent job, better than where I was before I attended. …Free food for more than three decades.and a much better position than where I started. Never forget where you came from and Thanks SIU for what you do for our young people.