PORT OF HOUTON – San Jacinto College announced it has purchased 13 waterfront acres here to build a facility for U.S. Coast Guard approved maritime vessel operation training to prepare mariners for an industry in need of an increasing workforce.
Plans are underway for SJC to construct a maritime center that will house multiple classrooms, engineering labs, and advanced navigation labs “together with the industry’s newest interactive, full mission ship, towboat, and tugboat simulators.”
According to a release, completion of the maritime center will allow the college to nearly double the number of Coast Guard and Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers approved courses from 50 to 90.
“San Jacinto College has maintained a close relationship with its community throughout the years to offer people the education they need to achieve their goals, and our efforts to assist our surrounding maritime industry is just another example of this commitment,” said SJC Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer, in a statement. “We look forward to offering mariners the vital certification training necessary for their requirements in maritime and to assisting the industry with its employment needs.”
According to a 2011 WorkBoat compensation study, 60 percent of mariners are 50 years of age and older, with only .7 percent younger than 25 years of age. SJC Maritime aims to increase and upgrade the skills and abilities of operational and management level mariners to strengthen the standing of Texas-based maritime companies and crew to be more competitive – through better training – in the national and international business and job markets.
“This is an exciting adventure for San Jacinto College,” said Dr. Sarah Janes, vice president of the college’s Continuing and Professional Development division, in a statement. “More than 90 percent of what we use is transported to us by water; 52 percent of the present maritime workforce is already here in Houston, and that will increase by the 2014 with the expansion of the Panama Canal. We need to be prepared, especially for those who are expected to retire.”
When fully developed, the waterfront property will include a dock for lifeboats, fast rescue boats, and room for visiting vessels that will allow for customized, company, and vessel specific training, said Capt. Mitch Schacter, director of the CPD maritime training program. The location will also allow for observation of actual maritime and port operations that include container and cargo operations, tanker loading and discharging, docking and undocking operations with harbor assist tugs, and ship bunkering (fueling) via towboat and barge.
Development of the maritime center is being guided and supported by an advisory committee of industry leaders that includes Texas A&M University at Galveston, the Texas Maritime Academy, the Houston Pilots, the Port of Houston, the Port of Galveston, Higman Towing, G&H Towing, Bay Houston Towing, Buffalo Marine, Kinder Morgan, Southern States Offshore, Hercules Drilling, and McDonough Marine Services. The Mid Atlantic Maritime Academy is also working as a partner for the College’s maritime center. In addition, about 20 other companies currently send their maritime crews to SJC for Coast Guard approved training.
For more information about the CPD maritime training program at SJC, visit cpd.sanjac.edu/maritime.