To attend PMI workboat academy or not to attend.....that is the question

Hello all,
I’m looking for your opinion. Im currently in the uscg with 1 year left till retirement and looking to upgrade to 500/1600 ton mate. Currently hold a 200 ton master but will have my AB MMD before getting out. I’m a boatswains mate chief with 13 years of sea time which equals out to over 2000 days creditable sea time.

My question is would it be worth or advisible for me to attend the workboat academy or just take the classes that I need to test for it? Would it put me at an advantage for future employment by attending the workboat academy or would it even matter?

Thanks in advance for your advice and input.

For the must part, companies hire the license. How you got it usually does not matter.

Yes – what he said.

I would just do the classes and save both time and money.

Caveat: Unless there is some experience offered that you DID NOT get through CG, but even then…

Ditto, save your funds. PMI is a good school though.

Thanks for your advice! Good stuff, but my thinking was I’d the the school paid for by the GI Bill and with the program they send you out to companies as cadets so I think that is a good way to network or kinda get your foot in the door with certain tug companies. Is my reasoning totally off? Does anyone have experience benefitting from the program as far as getting employment soon after graduation?

Why not use the gi bill to attend a maritime academy and get a degree?

Networking is not as important with tugs as simply having worked on tugs before. It would be a more efficient use of your time to go to work as a deckhand for your tug company of choice and complete your TOAR while a deckhand. That would probably be preferable to you vs spending a majority of your time taking classes that you could likely teach. I believe PMI takes two years, most of it classes. Being a deckhand for a year gives you more practical experience on a tug and a TOAR in less time. PMI is for people with no license already…

I would strongly recommend you use your GI bill to go to a Maritime Academy and get a 3rd mate license. It s a hard struggle to get to the unlimited licenses otherwise and they are much more marketable. Plus you will see other sectors of the industry you may decide you prefer to towing. If you already have some college credits it is possible to complete an academy in 3 years. If you already have a Bachelor’s do the 2 year master’s degree program at SUNY that gets you a 3M in the process.

Thanks Capt Schmitt. There is the AB to Mate program at PMI I think it is six months. I was also thinking of doing that in the interest of saving time. I would get my 3rd mate unlimited out of that. Looking at that I should also be able to apply for 500/1600 mate and make myself more marketable once complete with the AB to Mate program.

Once I get all that my plan was to apply for sauce bros, young brothers, or k-sea out here in Honolulu as an AB and work up from there. Am I on the right track?

If you have a 3M you do not need, and they won’t give you, a 500/1600 ton mate license. If you have the sea time on tonnage for a 3M definitely go for it. If you ever plan to move into the office having an academy degree well help and it is free, but if you dont want to then dont. (Academically they are not difficult at all.)

Yes, you seem to have a good plan. You may want to broaden your company list some and consider other sectors of the industry though. Why do you specifically want to tow above all else?

The AB to mate program seems to cover all the classes need for the 500/1600 ton mate

The AB to mate program seems to cover all the classes needed for the 500/1600 ton license.

I have been looking into other sectors and am open to all. Figure if I can break in the the tugs here I’d just stay here as this is home and am tired of moving all the time due to military. If not then I’ll travel to where the jobs are.

Not really looking for office jobs, never been an office jockey. A maritime college I think will take too long as I think I’m too old for it plus I need to get right into the workforce as I need to pay child support.

Don’t know how old you are but there were guys who were in their 40’s at CMA when I went there. Also I had a kid when I went there and paid support while attending. I had to pay for my education with some help from dad and student loans. In the end it was definitely worth it. Not trying to convince you one way or the other, just letting you know my experience

The classes needed for the 500/1600 are the same as for 3M. What tonnage is your sea time on?

You dont need to live near work. You can live wherever you want and fly to the boat. Maybe moving to the mainland would make that easier/cheaper but you do not need to live near your boat.

I’ll only be 37 when I retire. Maybe CMA is an option. Never really thought about college. Plus would be all paid for by GI bill.

All my sea time in the CG has been on cutters 180’ to 400’ which is the equivalent to over 500 GT to over 1600 GT.

Then definitely go for the unlimited license. The classes are all the same. The only difference is the tonnage your sea time is on.

I would tell you to skip getting a mates license and get a 1600 ton master since you already have a 200 ton master. All you need is 2years running as a master with one of those being over 100 tons and take the few core STCW classes. Those have no on board assessments so you can start working on those right now.!
Will give you a listing of everything you need.

Also the CG recently decided to let you get your 3rd mates license with out having to take the classes, just your on board assessments. So you get that done while you are working as a 1600 ton master making more then a 1600 ton mate. You will have to test again, but no big deal, you already took and passed 99% of the stuff they are going to ask you.

Now I know you mentioned tugs, and I know nothing about them and generally avoid anything having to to with there licensing structure. So I’m going to ask you to think about work boats in the Gulf. You could start right now working on your 1600 ton master and if that is all you did be done sometime this summer. All the signs are indicating that things are about to jump off in the Gulf big time come spring, so chances of finding a good paying job are in your favor. Also you will find that the money in going unlimited is in drill ships. Drilling companies want you to have your DP license when they hire you. Supply boats use DP all the time and the supply boat companies will send you to school to get your DP license and train on their boats. Very few tugs have DP so you have very little of chance of getting the training done.

Not knowing how the GI bill works, but if the class is taught by a state school do they pay for it? If that is all that’s required they hell the schools in Louisiana are always doing classes so you’re good to go.

PMI states that students are paid a stipend while working with companies in between class sessions. Anyone have an idea on what that stipend range is?

The majority of the companies actually hire the individual at full Ordinary Seaman wages. The decision should not be taken lightly, and I would agree with the advantages of going to a Maritime Academy and getting a ‘College’ degree if that is your passion. It certainly gives you more opportunity shore-side.

If you are looking at working on a tug, and getting the best education possible to do just that, then you should consider the Workboat Academy:

  • it is a hybrid program, and still has some of the advantages of the Hawsepipe. One year at sea with structured on board training.
  • Only 28 weeks of classroom, leaving 24 weeks of vacation, and one year of ‘paid sea-time’.
  • Unrestricted license when you graduate. Not just Mate of Towing. Full STCW with 1600 Near Coastal or Oceans.

In my opinion, the industry is changing. Although the USCG requires a minimum amount of training, that doesn’t necessarily mean that is the best approach to a career on a tug. With modern technology and the leadership (human factors) involved in being a Captain, I would highly suggest going well above the minimum. I also disagree that companies are only looking for a license. Ask the leading companies that question, and see what they say. I expect there are companies out there that may feel that way, but do you want to work for those companies?