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Unlicensed Apprentice (UA) Maritime Training - The Seafarers Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship (SHLSS)

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What is the purpose of Unlicensed Apprentice Program?: The purpose of the Unlicensed Apprentice Program at Seafarers Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship (SHLSS) at Paul Hall Centeris to train, guide and encourage men and women to make careers for themselves on the world’s oceans or on America’s network of coastal and inland waterways.

Who is this program for?: The Unlicensed Apprentice Program is recommended for individuals who wish to seek employment through the hiring halls affiliated with the Seafarers International Union. The Center’s philosophy is that every new person coming into the maritime industry needs certain basic skills and knowledge before he or she embarks on more specific career training in one of the three departments: deck, engine or steward.


How is this program structured? - The Unlicensed Apprentice Program consists of five phases of instruction - During Phase 1, students receive 16 weeks of resident training at the SHLSS. In Phase 2 the unlicensed apprentices spend 12 weeks aboard a vessel contracted with the SIU as a student observer. During Phase 3 students return to SHLSS for advanced formal training. During Phase 4, students serve in a paid position aboard an SIU-contracted U.S. flagged commercial vessel. And, in Phase 5, deck and engine students will return to the SHLSS for 4 weeks of advanced specialty training.

unlicenced apprentice training

Unlicensed Apprentice Program




SHLSS Unlicensed Apprentice (UA) Training

  • Phase 1: During Phase 1, students receive 16 weeks of resident training at the SHLSS. These courses provide fundamental maritime knowledge and safety skills required for a merchant mariner. Following are the courses:

    • Galley Familiarization
    • Basic Firefighting
    • First Aid and Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
    • Industrial Relations I
    • Water Survival
    • Vessel Familiarization
    • Vessel Operations and Maintenance
    • Physical Education
    • Social Responsibilities

  • Phase 2: In Phase 2 the unlicensed apprentices spend 12 weeks aboard a vessel contracted with the SIU as a student observer. During these weeks at sea, the students spend 30 days in each shipboard department (deck, engine, and steward). This experience provides hand-on experience learning the skills and knowledge introduced to them during the Phase I training. Phase II provides the students with the opportunity to determine their personal interest and their area of specialization when they return to study at the School Students must complete a Sea Project which requires collecting information from each department aboard the ship.
  • Phase 3: During Phase 3 students return to SHLSS for advanced formal training. First, students begin their training with Tanker Familiarization and Government Vessels, followed by their specialty courses in either Ratings Forming Part of the Navigational Watch (RFPNW) for deck department, Basic Auxiliary Plant Operations (BAPO) for the engine department, or Galley Operations for the steward department.
  • Phase 4: During Phase 4, students serve in a paid position aboard an SIU-contracted U.S. flagged commercial vessel for at least 120 days. Here, they will gain hands-on experience and earn sea time by working in their selected shipboard department.
  • Phase 5: In Phase 5, deck and engine students will return to the SHLSS for 4 weeks of advanced specialty training. Deck students will complete the 4-week Able Seafarer - Deck course, Engine Department students will complete the 4-week FOWT/Able Seafarer - Engine course, and Steward Department students will complete the 12-week Certified Chief Cook course. Upon successful completion of Phase 5, students will receive their specialty rating and their probationary union seniority, which will allow them to register and ship from any SIU union hall.
  • Cost: There is no charge for tuition or room and board for Program participants. However, students are responsible for paying the costs of their uniforms, physical exam, and other similar costs.
  • Admission Requirements: The Program only accepts applicants whom the Admission Committee determines will be able to successfully pursue a seafaring career. A candidate must demonstrate that he or she possesses the discipline, ability, and fitness level necessary to work as a merchant mariner in order to be accepted into the Program. Candidates are accepted throughout the year.
  • Apply for the Unlicensed Apprentice program

Progresson from Unlicensed Apprentice

  • Unlicensed Apprentice to Able Seafarer Deck Program: The UA to ASD Program consists of a combination of five phases of resident training and sea service meeting the training requirements for an Able Seafarer-Deck endorsement. This program differs from the old UA program in that thay have added new elements to the Ratings Forming Part of a Navigational Watch (RFPNW) course.
  • UA to FOWT Program: Students completing the UA to FOWT program and making application within 1 year of completion will: (1) satisfy the written exam requirements of 46 CFR 12.505 for the endorsements as FOWT, provided that the applicant presents evidence of at least 90 qualifying days of engine room sea service; AND (2) satisfy the training and assessment requirements of 46 CFR 12.609(1)(3) and Table A-III/4 of the STCW Code, as amended for RFPEW - Limited to Steam and Motor propelled vessels only PROVIDED that the applicant also presents evidence of at least 60 days of engine watchkeeping service; AND (3) receive 90 days of sea service credit that can be applied towards the service requirements of 46 CFR 12.503 for QMED endorsements PROVIDED applicants present an additional 90 days of qualifying engine room sea service, and meet all other requirements before issuance of any QMED endorsements.