Preparing for a Career
Maritime training center no longer the school of second chances
By JOHN C. MARCARIO, Assistant Editor
A Helping Hand
don’t go to college, don’t go to the
armed services, don’t have vocational training and can pass a drug
[test] and background check. That
is a select group,” he said.
While enrollment is not at the
level it was in the 1990s, the number of applicants and those enrolled
has increased in the past five years.
J.C. Wiegman, director of education, said he’s convinced the
tougher regulations and requirements have turned away a number
of students, but he’s also seeing
more qualified people applying.
“It’s a win-win situation for us,” he said.
In the coming years, Nolan expects the growing liquefied natural gas industry to result in more training
requirements for Merchant Mariners. He also expects
more goods and supplies to be transported via water
rather than highways.
The center originally opened as the Seafarers’ Harry
Lundeberg School of Seamanship in Brooklyn, N.Y. It
moved to the isolated Piney Point campus in 1991,where
it now trains 1,500 to 2,500 students per year and offers
a wide range of certification courses.
The school’s bridge and engine simulators, the Joseph
Sacco Fire Fighting and Safety School and the culinary lab
are world renowned. A majority of students are Merchant
Mariners, while some are from the Coast Guard.
Wiegman said female enrollment has grown in the
past four years as more cruise ship and culinary jobs
have become available. Around 10 percent to 15 percent of the students are women, and he expects that
percentage to continue to rise.
The center also trains for the Seafarers Entertainment
and Allied Trades Union and offers certifications on a wide
range of courses, such as nautical science technology, chief
cook, crowd management, electronic chart display information systems, basic cargo handling and stowage, Ameri-
The Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education plays a
pivotal role in preparing students for careers at sea.
■ The school trains between 1,500 and 2,500 students per year.
■ More than 30,000 students have graduated from the unlicensed
apprentice program since 1991.
■ The bridge and engine simulators, the Joseph Sacco Fire Fighting
and Safety School and the culinary lab are world renowned.
The Seafarers International Union’s Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education has undergone a significant shift in both educational focus and the quality of its students.
The center, founded in 1967 and located in Piney
Point, Md., since 1991, is the largest unlicensed maritime
training facility in the United States. Focusing on ratings
and certifications, it provides a comprehensive education
for beginners and experts, as well as being the nation’s
largest training facility for deep-sea merchant seafarers
and inland waterways boatmen. It also offers the most —
more than 70 — U.S. Coast Guard-approved courses of
any maritime school in the United States.
“This industry, without a doubt, is the best kept
secret in the whole wide world because nobody knows
anything about the U.S. Merchant Marine,” said center
Vice President Don Nolan, who joined the staff in
1968. “When I came here [the training] was all about
safety, and now it’s almost all about security,” he said.
Nolan said the center, at one time, had been considered the school of second chances, citing judges as his
best recruiters. As security has come to the forefront,
the pool of potential applicants today is much smaller.
“With background checks and regulations, it’s
almost impossible to help young people who have
been in trouble. We are selecting from people who