Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Compass Courses: Celebrating 10 Years of Training Professional Mariners

March 2011

For ten years, mariners of all skill levels have relied on Edmonds, Washington-based Compass Courses Maritime Training to prepare them for the next step in their career. From experienced mariners hoping to advance their careers or fulfill license requirements to new mariners who need the basics to get started in the industry, Compass Courses offers a variety of training options.

Owned and operated by Julie Keim, Compass Courses is a private training organization providing USCG approved licensing and safety training. Since Keim started the North Seattle mariner training facility, Compass Courses has trained more than 7,000 mariners in 17 USCG approved courses.

The school is located in Edmonds, Washington, 20 minutes North of Seattle and a short walk to the Port of Edmonds waterfront and marina. The school’s location is also convenient to several nearby spaces including conference space and hotel facilities. Compass Courses boasts a main classroom for 24 students and a radar simulator lab with space and radar equipment for 10 students at a time. For specialized training, the school holds classes at offsite facilities, with fire training taking place at the Washington State Fire Training Academy, in North Bend, Washington, and survival exercises for the Basic Safety Training class held at a nearby swimming pool. The school is also the school is taking an adjacent space to create another classroom for 17 more students.

Compass Courses offers a variety of training options for mariners of all skill levels and experience and a staff of seven part-time instructors and one full-time instructor. All of the school’s courses are US Coast Guard approved.

Julie Keim, who sailed on a commercial license with a local cruise line prior to founding the company, says the school is dedicated to providing the best training environment for its students, in a comfortable and modern facility. “We want the students to get the most out of the courses,” she says. Most of the students are taking time off of work to attend courses, so the facility is geared toward making the most efficient use of their time. Compass Courses commits to its posted schedule, even if enrollment is low, and the school has negotiated rates with a reasonably priced hotel a short walk from the campus. There are several restaurants nearby, and the facility has a clean, well-appointed galley for those who choose to take their meals on-site.

Among the US Coast Guard-certified courses offered by the school are STCW Basic Safety Training, Bridge Resource Management and Crisis and Crowd Management courses.

Basic Training
The school’s STCW Basic Safety Training course is five days, usually held Monday-Friday, and satisfies the Basic Safety Training requirements for all licenses and endorsements. The BST training is divided into four different courses.

The 16-hour basic firefighting course is designed for all seafarers with safety or pollution prevention duties, and focuses on training to minimize the risk of fire, maintain a state of readiness to respond to emergency situations involving fire, and fight and extinguish shipboard fires. This two-day section includes one day of classroom theory and one day of live-fire training at the Washington State Fire Training Academy, located in North Bend, Washington. Personal Survival Techniques is a 12-hour course designed for all seafarers with safety or pollution prevention duties. Students are taught competency in surviving at sea in the event of ship abandonment. This section of the BST training includes a practical demonstration of skills in the pool with life rafts and immersion suits. The 4-hour Personal Safety and Social Responsibility course is designed for all seafarers with safety or pollution prevention duties, and trains students to comply with emergency procedures, take precautions to prevent pollution of the marine environment, observe safe working practices, understand orders and be understood in relation to shipboard duties, and contribute to effective human relationships on board ship. The fourth BST course is Medical Emergencies at Sea (First Aid & CPR). This 8-hour course is taught by an experienced medical care provider, and covers basic First Aid and CPR with emphasis on techniques and methods used while at sea. On completion of this course a mariner will be able to take immediate action upon encountering an accident or other medical emergency.

The school offers an Able-Bodied Seaman, “in lieu of exam” course, designed for mariners who have satisfied the sea service requirements for the Able Seaman rating. Successful completion of this 40-hour course satisfies the written and practical examination for any Able Seaman document, including Unlimited, Limited, Special and Special OSV.

Upon successful completion of the course, a mariner who presents his Certificate of Training at a USCG Regional Exam Center has satisfied the written examination requirements of 46 CFR 12.05-9 for the “Deck & Navigation General / Deck Safety” and “Deck General & Safety / Rules of the Road” exam modules for any Able Seaman endorsement, as well as the practical (knot-tying) examination requirements of 46 CFR 12.05-9 for any Able Seaman endorsement.

Compass Courses also offers a two-day course that satisfies the training requirements of the STCW Regulation A-II/4 and Section A-II/4 for certification as Rating Forming Part of a Navigational Watch Restricted to Lookout Duties only. An Able Seaman getting the STCW endorsement is required to satisfy the RFPNW training and qualifications.

The school’s STCW Proficiency in Survival Craft/Lifeboatman course is taught with the help of the facility’s newest piece of equipment, a full-size Gravity Lifeboat Davit. The davit allows the school flexibility in their schedule, by offering Able Seaman and Basic Safety Training twice a month.

Julie Keim acquired the davit, formerly fitted to the Military Sealift Command’s Modular Cargo Delivery System ship SS Gulf Farmer, and had it disassembled and completely rebuilt, painted and fitted with new rigging and equipment, including rebuilt electric winches.

The 32-hour course satisfies the training requirements of 46 CFR 12.10-3(a)(5) or (6) and sections A-VI/2 and Table A-VI/2-1 of the STCW 95 Code, as well as satisfying the written and practical requirements of 46 CFR 12.10.5 for any endorsement as Lifeboatman, provided that sea service requirements are met. Students successfully completing this course take the Coast Guard examinations from Compass Courses.

Operations Management
The school offers a two-week, 80-hour Captain’s License course designed for those who are looking to upgrade from Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels (OUPV), hold a license of 25-50 GRT, or for those who are going for their original license and have seatime on private or commercial vessels. The course offers two weeks of classroom instruction by a professional, licensed captain, and the school’s staff helps guide mariners through the whole process, including documenting seatime and assistance with the application process.

A non-simulator based Bridge Resource Management (BRM) course provides training to mariners seeking an STCW endorsement at the management and operational (Master/Mate) levels on vessels over 500 Gross Tons ITC. The BRM course is also valuable to other vessel operators who may not be seeking US Coast Guard documents, licenses or endorsements, or whose experience is not up to the minimum requirements established under ideal conditions.

The school’s five-day radar observer course trains students in the proper use of radar for risk assessment, collision avoidance, and navigation. The curriculum exceeds USCG and IMO requirements for radar training, and includes classroom instruction where students master the theories behind effective use of radar equipment, and “hands-on” training on our state-of-the-art PC based radar simulator. The course satisfies the requirements of 46 CFR 10.480 as a Radar Observer (Unlimited); Radar training requirements for certification as Officer in Charge of a Navigational Watch on vessels of 500 or more gross tons (ITC); and Table A-II/1 of the STCW-95 code. The school also offers a one-day Radar Observer Renewal course, approved for Unlimited, Inland and Rivers Recertification.

Crisis Management
To address mandatory minimum requirements for the training and qualifications of masters, officers, ratings and other personnel on passenger ships, Compass Courses offers STCW Crowd Management & Crisis Management and Human Behavior courses, for ro/ro and non-ro/ro operation.

The school’s four-hour Crowd Management course (including ro/ro), offered to individuals and groups, is designed for all personnel designated on muster lists to assist passengers in emergency situations on passenger ships. The course satisfies the crowd management training requirements and Safety Training requirements of Section A-V/2 of the STCW Code for Ro/Ro Passenger Vessels and Paragraph 3 of Section A-V/3 of the STCW Code for Passenger Ships Other Than Ro/Ro Passenger Vessels.

Also offered is a 14-hour Crisis Management and Human Behavior (including ro/ro) for chief mates, chief engineers, second officers and any person having responsibility for the safety of passengers in emergency situations. This two-day course covers the Crisis Management and Human Behavior training requirements for Ro/Ro Passenger Ships and Passenger Ships Other Than Ro/Ro Passenger ships. The course also covers the Passenger Safety, Cargo Safety and Hull Integrity training requirements of Paragraph 4 of Section A-V/2 of the STCW Code for Ro/Ro Passenger Ships and the Passenger Safety training requirements of Paragraph 4 of Section A-V/2 of the STCW Code for Passenger Ships Other Than Ro/Ro Passenger Ships.

The eight-hour Crisis Management and Human Behavior (non ro/ro) course is designed for chief mates, chief engineers, second officers and any person having responsibility for the safety of passengers in emergency situations.

All of the school’s Crowd & Crisis Management & Human Behavior classes are scheduled for groups and are exportable. The school’s instructors go to the client’s vessel or facility to conduct the class.

In addition to the school’s full selection of regularly scheduled open enrollment classes, Compass Courses creates custom training programs for individual or group training, either at the school or onsite at the client’s facility.

As companies struggle to find qualified mariners to fill positions on their vessels, training facilities like Compass Course offer mariners an exciting and affordable alternative to four-year maritime academies, while offering employers a new generation of well-trained mariners.