Friday, January 22, 2016

Foss, Others Launching Marine Engineering Program

By Mark Edward Nero

To help combat a shortage of licensed marine engineers in the industry, Foss Maritime has announced a partnership to establish the curriculum for a new marine engineering apprenticeship program, and to sponsor several applicants each year.

Seattle Central College, Seattle Maritime Academy, the Maritime Institute of Technology & Graduate Studies-Pacific Maritime Institute and the Workboat Academy have received a $5 million American Apprenticeship Innovation Grant from the US Department of Labor to help build the new apprenticeship program.

Foss officers will train and assess the apprentices according to the standards required by the United States Coast Guard for tasks needed toward a USCG license.

“This partnership exists to respond to the growing need for more trained marine engineers,” said Scott Merritt, Foss’ senior vice president of harbor services. “Working together, we aim to train hundreds, if not thousands, of new apprentices in the maritime and advanced manufacturing fields.”

Through the grant, more 150 engineers are expected to be trained over the next five years, both in Seattle and Baltimore. The engineering program’s expected to mirror Workboat Academy’s deck apprenticeship, now in its 10th year. Engineering cadets will blend time in the classroom with simulation, and apply this knowledge to real work aboard vessels. The candidate’s license would depend on the type of partner company vessels and the routes where cadets gain sea time as an apprentice.

The American maritime industry has experienced a lack of licensed marine engineers, a shortage that’s expected to increase when new requirements requiring structured onboard training for all trainee engineers take effect Jan. 1, 2017.

The new requirements were created by 2010 Manila Amendments to the International Maritime Organization’s Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers. When they go into effect, the US fleet is expected to lack licensed engineers and the capacity to properly train and certify engineers to participate in global maritime trade.

“Foss knows we need to help build a pipeline to develop the engineers we will need in the years to come,” Merritt said. “We're pleased to have this opportunity to develop the curriculum and training for the next generation of marine engineers.”