Maritime education coming to Port Townsend

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The maritime trades have always been an active source of local commerce, but the region is now beginning to be known as a center of maritime education.

The Northwest Maritime Center and Seattle-based Crawford Nautical School have announced a new partnership that expands Crawford’s training and course offerings to the maritime center’s Port Townsend campus.

“This is a world-class school that can instruct mariners at a higher level, it adds a new level of sophistication to what we can offer here,” said the center’s executive director, Jake Beattie.

“It will also benefit the school programs, as students can see what they can do in the context of a professional environment and show them how the marine trades can provide them with a career trajectory,” Beattie said.

On Monday, Port Townsend School Superintendent David Engle was scheduled to present a plan for providing maritime education to local students.

Engle said that maritime communities represent the intersection of human activity where land meets the sea.

“As we deepen our understanding of our impact on the surrounding saltwater world, we become more responsible stewards for a healthy future,” Engle said.

Beattie said the maritime job market is wide open, either for someone beginning his or her career or as an in-service professional.

“There are some huge vacancies opening up,” he said.

“As the current wave of boomers retire, there are all kinds of opportunities, and these jobs move — you can live anywhere.”

Beattie said the presence of maritime education opportunities in Port Townsend could slow the exit of young people departing the area for lack of professional opportunities.

Crawford Nautical School is based in Seattle and is the oldest privately owned maritime training school in the United States.

It has been training mariners from all areas — deep sea, coastal and inland waters; master, mates, pilots and engineers — for more than 90 years, according to the school.

It offers courses from celestial navigation, radar operation and engineering that can lead to certification and licensing a by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Maritime Center’s Pilot House, an elaborate simulator that provides hands-on training for a variety of boats and re-creating different weather conditions and locations, will be the centerpiece of the instruction.

The first classes offered under Crawford’s auspices could begin as early as next month, with 15-30 students. Additional classes will be offered in the fall, and a full curriculum will start in 2014, running from January through April, and October through December. These classes could accommodate up to 50 participants per week.

Students will be drawn from an international base and will stayin from one to six weeks.

Engle’s proposal is in the nascent stage and any action will require board approval.

The idea, he said, is to frame instruction in maritime terms.

If students want to find expression in art or music they can begin with the maritime counterparts and learn from there.

Students, he said, can branch off into other areas.

“There is a ceiling, they can do what they want,” he said.

“This is a formula, not a track.”

Engle said that by using the proximity to the water, students can find educational opportunities from kindergarten through 12th grade, and, thanks to Crawford’s presence, beyond.

“With Crawford here, kids can go to work right out of high school and get the education they need,” he said.

“In this way, education is directly tied to economic development.”

Engle said that the incorporation of maritime instruction is possible in Port Townsend because the district is nimble enough to effect change with minimal delay.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 08. 2013 6:47PM
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