Workboat Mate Program

A 500-1600 GRT (Limited) license will allow you to serve as a deck officer aboard towing vessels and other workboats.

The Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies (MITAGS) allows individuals with little or no experience to earn the qualifications necessary for a Deck Officer (Mate’s) license. We work with aspiring mariners to help them obtain certifications and provide civilians with an entry point into the maritime profession.

Structure of a Workboat Mate Limited Apprenticeship Program

During the apprenticeship program, you will receive the support and training required to earn a Mate’s license, and acquire the skills needed to succeed on the job. The program combines shore-based training with simulation and onboard instruction, so you can apply the skills you learn to the job’s tasks.

During the program, training builds on itself, allowing you to develop your knowledge and abilities logically.

The Workboat Mate program lasts for 28 months, but it may be possible to complete it in 24 months. You will spend 30 weeks in a classroom setting and 360 days training at sea.

Program Courses

During the 30 weeks of classroom training, you will take various courses, including:

Benefits of a Workboat Mate Apprenticeship

Completing the Workboat Mate apprenticeship program prepares you for a maritime career in less time. The program reduces the at-sea requirements from three years to a little under one year.

Participating in the apprenticeship program helps you get your foot in the door. During the program, you will have support in forming relationships with companies for onboard training. Once you complete the program, you will receive job placement assistance and career advice.

Financial assistance is available for Veterans who enroll in the program. While working onboard a ship, you will earn a stipend. The stipend amount varies. Some vessels pay $30 a day, the amount stipulated by the Maritime Administration. Others pay an hourly rate or a higher daily rate.

Where Do Workboat Mates Work?

Most vessels are considered “Workboats.” Workboats include tugboats, which may tow or push cargo barges, or may assist with the docking and undocking of ships. Other workboats engage in oceanographic research, offshore surveying and marine construction projects.

Though this type of license has a “limit” to the size of the vessel that the officer is allowed to serve aboard, the variety of projects that workboats accomplish makes this mariner very well-rounded and marketable towards companies seeking deck officers. There are some distinct differences between the “Unlimited” and “500-1600 GRT” licenses. Generally speaking, voyages from port to port are shorter; anywhere from one week to two months and are usually confined to near coastal runs. The crew size on board workboats is smaller; between four to eight members of differing job duties.

The person maintaining the navigational watch usually stands their duty solo and does not have a team to assist: meaning that monitoring the radars, radios, electronic chart, logbook, steering and other duties need to be efficiently performed simultaneously.

The watch systems on board are designed to provide rest time and work times for licensed personnel. This is usually the “six on six off” system that begins at midnight each day. Workboats themselves are smaller and ride in the sea a bit rougher than other vessels, but are also much more maneuverable in operation. Crews often share the cooking/cleaning duties and physical space is at more of a premium than on a large ship.

What to Expect as a Workboat Mate Apprentice

  • You will primarily apprentice on tugboats, supply vessels, salvage vessels and vessels up to 1600 GRT
  • Crew size between 4-8
  • Voyages between one week to two months in length
  • Trips remain primarily ‘near coastal’
  • Remain with same company
  • You will also be involved in cargo operations

Maritime Apprenticeship Programs

MITAGS’ Maritime Apprenticeship Programs offer a fast and cost-effective way for passionate individuals with little or no maritime experience to earn highly desirable qualifications.

For the sea service training component, MITAGS helps to match prospective apprentices with reputable companies who have signed on with the program, using interviews. Apprentices are placed with a Partner Company before they start the program. They work with the same company throughout the entire program.

The Apprentice will be eligible to sit for their Mate’s license and hold their AB Limited upon program completion. The mariner also receives their Able Seafarer-Deck and OICNW credentials and can sail internationally. During the program, the tonnage of the vessels the apprentice sails on will determine whether they receive their Mate of 500/1600 GRT vesselsor a Third Mate Unlimited tonnage license.

What Do You Need to Participate in a 500-1600 GRT Limited Apprenticeship?

To enroll in a 500-1600 GRT Limited apprenticeship, you must have the following:

  • High school diploma or equivalent (GED)
  • Passing score on a basic math entrance exam
  • American passport (or eligible for an American passport)

Participants must be at least 19 years old and cannot have a DUI.

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