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At a time when schooling is more expensive than ever, one vocational training facility does not charge for tuition, room or board for entry-level students, and also assures initial employment for its graduates.
The Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education, affiliated with the Seafarers International Union (SIU), prepares students for successful careers as U.S. Merchant Mariners. Based in Piney Point, Md., the school offers entry-level training; ongoing vocational classes; academic support and more.
Students are responsible for the cost of travel to the school, clothing and pre-entry medical screening. Classes, meals and lodging are free for those in the unlicensed apprentice program. Graduates of the entry-level training program are guaranteed a first job aboard one of the SIU's contracted vessels.
The merchant marine is composed of men and women who crew U.S.-flag commercial vessels on the deep seas, inland waterways and Great Lakes. Although referred to as the nation's "fourth arm of defense," America's mariners are civilians working for private companies, and are not members of the armed forces.
U.S. Merchant Mariners crew all types of vessels: containerships, tankers, bulkers, passengers vessels, tugs and much more. Some of these vessels are under contract to transport troops and military goods. Since the founding of the United States, merchant mariners have played a vital support role in the nation's conflicts.
The U.S. Merchant Marine also plays a crucial role in America's peacetime economy by crewing the many vessels involved in international trade. U.S.-flag ships can be seen regularly in the major ports of the world.
Many of the individuals who work aboard those vessels have trained at the Paul Hall Center. Established in 1967, the school emphasizes hands-on training and features top-notch educational equipment in a picturesque setting. In September 2002, the school opened an additional dormitory featuring more than 100 single-occupancy rooms.