PHC Expands AB to Mate Program


December 2013


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Opportunities for Seafarers are expanding at the union-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education (PHC) in Piney Point, Md.


For the first time, the school is accepting applications from the general membership for its AB to Mate program – an intensive series of courses that offer ABs the ability to reach the level of third mate. Previously, the AB to Mate program was only open to mariners who were sponsored by their respective companies.


Officials described the opening of the program to the general membership as part of the SIU’s overall goal of allowing its members as many opportunities for career advancement as possible. It’s a win-win situation – mariners can advance their careers, while companies have a greater pool of highly trained workers.


“It’s another platform on which to advance,” said Stacey McNeely, who is one of the program’s instructors. “The more training they have, the better a resource they are for the company or the vessel.”


Under the program, ABs must complete a series of four-week training modules at the PHC that cover everything from advanced firefighting and electronic navigation to shiphandling and meteorology. For most mariners, there are five four-week modules, equaling about five months of total training. Those receiving oceans endorsements are required to take a sixth module on celestial navigation.


While the four-week modules must be completed in a certain order, mariners are not required to complete them back-to-back. That means mariners can carve separate four-week periods of training out of their schedules over an extended period of time.


“What we’re trying to do is put together modules of classes so they can take a fourweek set of classes around their shipping schedules,” McNeely said. “Doing it over a period of time allows them to not only use what they are learning in class, it also makes sure they’re not overwhelmed during one particular stretch of time.”


The course work is certainly rigorous. PHC Director of Training J.C. Wiegman said the AB to Mate program is incredibly comprehensive and is among the most challenging training a Seafarer can undertake at the school. The ABs in the program, Wiegman said, must complete the assessments required by the STCW Convention with the knowledge and confidence to become a third mate.


“Our goal is to provide the member with support through bridge simulation, computer labs and the experienced instructors who will replicate real shipboard experience,” Wiegman said. “This career track is currently the most difficult series of courses at the school.”


In order to qualify for the program, mariners must have: 125 days sailing in the previous calendar year; 1,080 days seatime in the deck department, with 180 days holding AB-Limited or Unlimited rating; current Rating Forming Part of a Navigational Watch (RFPNW) and Able Seafarer-Deck or AB-Limited rating; three reference letters from Masters within the last two years; and pass an aptitude test developed by the Lundberg Maryland Seamanship School (LMSS). Members are encouraged to apply for the course through the admissions office. For more information, call (301) 994- 0010.




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Information on Expanded AB to Mate Program


AB to Mate Pre-requisites:

  • –  Must have 125 days sailing in the previous calendar year.
  • –  Must have 1080 days seatime in deck department, with 180 days holding AB-Limited or Unlimited rating.
  • –  Must have RFPNW and AS-D or AB-Limited.
  • –  Must have three reference letters from Masters within the last two years.
  • –  Must pass aptitude test developed by LMSS.



  • –  Anyone attending the program must take full course and assessments from LMSS and can’t use assessments from other training facilities along with courses taken at LMSS.
  • –  If a member fails a course within the module they must discontinue from whatever module they are taking and will be sent home at their own expense.
  • –  Before returning to take any additional modules they must show proof of getting academic assistance from home.
  • –  If a member has taken a course at another training facility they must submit the course certificate and assessments prior to arriving to LMSS to be sure their course meets LMSS standards.
  • –  Modules must be taken in their entirety and can’t be broken up.
  • –  Modules 1-2 are interchangeable.
  • –  Modules 3-5 must be taken in order.
  • –  Module 6 is for oceans endorsements only.



  • –  Modules 1-2 are already under full travel reimbursement.
  • –  Modules 3-5 are non-reimbursable.
  • –  Module 6 is already under full travel reimbursement.