The Unlicensed Apprentice (UA) Program is approximately one year long, and includes a combination of classroom training at the SHLSS, as well as an apprenticeship on board a vessel. The Program is broken down as follows:
Phase I – fifteen (15) weeks of entry level training at the SHLSS.
Phase II – ninety (90) days or more shipboard training as a non-crew member unlicensed apprentice. This includes thirty (30) days in each department with required completion of a designated sea project. Apprentices receive a stipend while they are training on board the vessel during Phase II.
Phase III – seven (7) weeks of follow -up training in Piney Point, MD. This phase focuses on the specific skills of each department (deck, engine and steward).
Phase IV – employment as an entry level crew member on a designated SIU-contracted vessel for a minimum of 120 days.
Phase V – completion of department specific upgrading classes in deck or engine department. Upon successful completion of upgrade, the apprentice will receive a probationary Union book as a member of the SIU with B-seniority, which is the second highest level of seniority. You must successfully complete all five phases in order to receive credit for the UA program and it must be done within one year of your completion of Phase III or you will be discontinued and your seniority will be dropped to C-seniority.
Training covers the duties and responsibilities of seamanship in the three shipboard departments: deck, engine and steward, through a curriculum that includes both classroom learning and hands-on training. Skills that are taught include:
Deck – marlinespike seamanship, cargo handling, watch standing duties, routine maintenance regimes and shipboard safety.
Engine – diesel and steam plant familiarization, use and care of tools and equipment and shipboard safety.
Steward – food preparation fundamentals, handling stores, nutrition, shipboard sanitation, laundry operations and shipboard safety.
Students are required to take classes concerning shipboard emergencies and operations including: fire fighting, water survival, first aid, CPR, industrial relations and social responsibilities on board a vessel. Each course is designed to provide the students with skills and knowledge to perform safely and effectively aboard a ship. Apprentices also learn about citizenship and individual responsibility through a series of classroom discussions and visits to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and the SIU Headquarters in Camp Springs, Maryland. The prospective seafarer will also learn about the nature of the shipping industry, the economics of marine transportation, and government policies and regulation that affect the vitality of the U.S. fleet.