WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER / MAY 2016
“Senior deck officers are more focused on bridge
training, using the simulated systems. We … put them
in that simulated environment and play a ‘what if’
game [involving] the characteristics and maneuverability of vessels,” he said.
Massachusetts Maritime Academy
As one of nine state universities there, the Massachusetts
Maritime Academy (MMA) has an undergraduate population of 1,600. Half of these students are enrolled in
Coast Guard licensing-track programs, upon completion of which they receive VPDSD (vessel personnel
with designated security duties) certification.
“It’s a management level that seafarers are required
to have,” said Capt. Brad Lima (USMS), the school’s
chief academic officer.
The Buzzards Bay, Mass., school boasts Capt. Richard
Phillips as a graduate, whose exploits during the 2009
hijacking of M/V Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates
were immortalized in the movie that bears his name.
“He’s spoken to the cadets on multiple occasions
regarding his experience with Somali pirates,” Lima said.
The school’s security-related courses heavily incorporate lessons learned from Phillips’ experience, Lima
said. Cadets learn to select shipping routes that keep
them away from troubled waters, and use nonlethal
methods of dealing with piracy attempts, for example.
Added security courses, though required, come without additional funding. Again, Lima said, like other
schools, MMA must pass along the expenses to the
students — payable in both money and time.
“A lot of it has to be done outside the normal
academic day, based on students’ and instructors’
availability,” Lima said. “They all become ‘ghost cred-
its,’ academic requirements necessary to satisfy the
issuance of a degree, but [they] may not have any
Those who complete the requirements and gradu-
ate, like their counterparts elsewhere, become valuable
commodities in the job market.
“We’re having a career fair here in April. Early on,
we signed up more than 100 companies’ representatives,” Lima said. “Our graduates contribute highly to
national defense needs and the U.S. economic engine.
The type of education we have here is a model for higher education on a national scale.”
SUNY Maritime College
“We are embarking on a new strategic plan here at
SUNY Maritime,” said Timothy Lynch, the school’s
provost and chief academic officer. “We want to make
sure we’re producing graduates with skillsets required
by industry, and that we’re teaching subject matter rel-
evant to the industry.”
The State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime
College, too, must factor in budget constraints as it
makes these necessary changes. As part of the state
university system, funding is limited. Adding new
curricula must come at the expense of something else,
Students at the school, situated at Fort Schuyler on
the tip of the Bronx where the East River meets Long
Island Sound, must complete between 180 and 190
credits within its four-year curriculum to graduate.
“It’s insane, but we try to get creative in how we
address [students’] concerns,” Lynch said.
For instance, in regard to security courses, they try
to focus on components that would lead directly to
some form of credentialing. Issues such as making sure
a ship’s cargo is verified, or that shippers are not polluting the environment, rise to the forefront.
Despite the challenging curriculum, SUNY Maritime
attracts 350 incoming freshmen every fall, and graduates about 250 in May.
“Why do they come to a maritime college? Because
they don’t want to sit behind a desk. They don’t realize
it’s very tightly constrained,” Lynch said.
Still, job prospects for graduates in portside or
supply-chain management, logistics, port and terminal
operations, marine chartering, and insurance underwriting are “huge,” Lynch said.
Texas A&M Maritime Academy
By the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston, Texas, Texas A&M
Maritime Academy has followed suit and ramped up
security-related coursework in the aftermath of 9/11
and the Maersk Alabama incident.
“Security is near and dear to my heart,” said Thomas
M. Brown, a Navy-trained attorney and Reserve lieutenant commander who holds the title as the school’s
Assistant Professor of the Practice.
“We’ve been responding to international require-
ments in training graduates, adding a new stand-alone
course dedicated to maritime security,” Brown said.
“The way all these state maritime academies do it, it’s
in a very regulated environment, by the Coast Guard
and the Maritime Administration.”
With its proximity to the oil industry presence in
the Gulf and the ports that keep it functioning, Texas
A&M Maritime requires cadets to spend time in sum-
mers on drill ships or supply vessels — a “regional
distinction,” Brown calls it.
Beyond that, the curriculum and academic demands
follow form with the other six institutions.
“We distinguish ourselves through the academic
degree and education we offer — providing a good
baccalaureate-level education and professional licensing training,” Brown said. n