Experts from many segments of the maritime industry recently convened on the SIU-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education (PHC), which played host this year to the annual PHC Advisory Board meeting. Representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), U.S. Maritime Administration, Comprehensive Health Services (CHS), union-contracted operators and the SIU executive board all met April 27 at the Piney Point, Maryland, campus to participate in a forum covering current state of maritime training as well as the latest news from the Paul Hall Center.
Speakers at the event included David Van Nevel, legal advisor to the Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance, USCG; E.J. Terminella, maritime personnel qualifications division, USCG; Ira Douglas, director of marine personnel, Crowley; Tracey Singleton, program manager/RN, CHS; Priscilla Labanowski, PHC director of training; John Hetmanski, executive chef, PHC; Robert Smith, curriculum development, PHC; Susan Fagan, simulator coordinator, PHC; and Tracey Mayhew, director of training standards, PHC.
Representing the union were Executive Vice President Augustin Tellez, Secretary-Treasurer David Heindel, Vice President Contracts George Tricker, Vice President West Coast Nick Marrone, Vice President Atlantic Coast Joseph Soresi, Vice President Great Lakes Tommy Orzechowski and SIU Plans Administrator Margaret Bowen.
The meeting opened with the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Apprentice Daniel Dunn, after which Heindel gave his opening remarks. Heindel used this opportunity to describe the purpose of the meeting.
He said, “We want to know what we’re doing right, we want to know what we could do better, and even what we’re doing wrong.” This sentiment was echoed by other speakers from the union and school, and reflected the cooperative nature of the meeting. Guests and panelists discussed the topics including new and scheduled upgrades to the Paul Hall Center, best practices for staying ahead of new STCW regulations, and USCG rule updates.
Representatives from the Coast Guard presented first, offering some clarity on the subject of changing credential requirements and upcoming dates when new rules take effect. They discussed the many effects of the STCW transitions that are happening, as well as the most recent changes to renewal requirements. This included topics such as revalidation courses needed for MMC renewal, the requirement for schools to have a quality standard system (QSS), qualified assessor requirements, new LNG regulations and the polar code.
Next to speak was Douglas, representing Crowley. He addressed the importance of staying ahead of upcoming STCW requirements from an operator’s standpoint.
“We’re ready to go to get ahead of these requirements,” said Douglas. “Mariners working for Crowley are about 95 percent compliant at the moment. More than half of that remaining five percent is retiring, and we’re aware and concerned about that number.”
He also used his presentation as a chance to address the importance to operators of being prepared for new requirements: “If you’re not in front of these things and actively engaged, you’re going to get surprised by them.”
Singleton addressed the crowd next, speaking of the improvements made to the availability and convenience of medical care to Seafarers on the beach. The number of clinics authorized to medically evaluate and clear SIU mariners has expanded from 24 to 60, and 60 percent of active mariners have used those facilities, as opposed to going out-of-network.
Additionally, she talked about the addition of A1C testing into the standard physical exam. A1C glucose-level testing is a key indicator of Type 2 Diabetes, also commonly called adult onset diabetes. This new testing has already helped some mariners in learning that they were unknowingly diabetic.
Labanowski took to the podium next, and gave a comprehensive rundown of the newly created or redesigned courses at the Paul Hall Center. These course changes have been well documented, in previous issues of the Seafarers LOG and on the union website.
She also touched on the usage of the Freedom Star, the newest training vessel provided by MARAD for use by PHC students. While the ship is currently being well-utilized by all departments for training purposes, it will begin to set sail on educational voyages in the near future.
“We will be taking the Freedom Star out on 12-hour voyages as part of classes,” she stated.
Labanowski also spoke about the new AB to Mate modular program and how successful it has become among those seeking to obtain their Third Mate license.
Smith talked about the FOWT to Third Assistant Engineer modular program that is under development. He gave a detailed explanation of the components involved, and the substantial effort in creating this new curriculum.
Next to speak was Susan Fagan, who covered the school’s state-of-the-art simulators. She reviewed current simulator training, stating that SIU-contracted companies have utilized the simulators for company-specific courses in both area and exercise development.
To begin the discussion on changes taking place in the steward department curriculum, Hetmanski covered the finer points of a directive he refers to as Culinary 2.0. This new direction for the steward department focuses on healthier menus, less wasted food, and more costeffective operations in the galley as well as a better-trained mariner in terms of leadership, time management and computer skills.
Hetmanski said, “A healthy mariner is a safer mariner, and a more productive mariner.”
Revising the curriculum also included reviewing the software packages used in the classroom, both for in-class assignments and potentially to replace the current software used in galley aboard SIU-contracted ships. He referred to that search nearing completion, saying, “There are many programs out there the meet our needs; now all we have to do is pick one.”
He and Tricker also led a breakout group discussion on the curriculum of the steward department. They solicited opinions from the assembled operators and other maritime partners on the quality and effectiveness of the current steward department program, as well as changes that should be implemented.
All of these changes are a part of the larger project of updating and relocating the current steward lab at the PHC. The new culinary lab will include many upgrades and modifications, including new equipment and individual workstations for students to perform practical cooking assignments.
Hetmanski noted, “The steward lab that is currently located in the bungalow next to the port office will be relocated to the main galley in the hotel in the existing bakery. The bakery will be relocated in the old chef’s office in the next room. Our students will no longer have to walk over to the former lab in bad weather, as we will all be under one roof.”
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