The 200-foot Tall Ship SSV Oliver Hazard Perry is beginning a two-week journey to Florida via Charleston, SC, that will serve as an internship at sea for six students from the Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy (MAMA) of Norfolk, VA.
The students recently completed a four-week MAMA “Mariner Boot Camp” training course designed to give them international credentials for securing an entry level job on a ship. To graduate from their program, they must now finish at least 160 hours of hands-on experience at sea, a requirement that will be completely fulfilled during their time aboard Perry.
“MAMA’s Mariner Boot Camp program is recognized by Virginia’s local area workforce agencies, including Opportunity Inc.,” said Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island Executive Director Jess Wurzbacher. “Ninety percent of the students have received full funding through programs for adult and dislocated workers and youth facing barriers to entry into the workforce.”
For most of the students, according to MAMA’s Program Coordinator Caroline Smith, this trip aboard SSV Oliver Hazard Perry will be their first time at sea. “MAMA is working to bring these unemployed adults to a point where they are marketable candidates for entry into the commercial maritime workforce,” she said. “Practical experience at sea is a key component.” She noted that a MAMA student who sailed aboard Perry last year has since been working around the world aboard commercial cargo vessels.
Wurzbacher said the atmosphere aboard Perry will be immersive and focus on general maritime training, including solid entry level deck skills, engine maintenance and engineering. “In many cases, the students will do the exact same things as our professional crew, and hopefully they will discover which path they want to take in the marine industry.”
Throughout the year, SSV Oliver Hazard Perry is offering various open-enrollment teen and adult programs, the latter with options in April for participating in three TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® Festivals with accompanying Tall Ships® races in Galveston, Pensacola and New Orleans. In late April, an adult voyage (ages 18+) from New Orleans to Annapolis will take Perry to the Mid-Atlantic where in mid-May the Naval Academy Prep School Midshipmen candidates will board for the ship’s voyage to Philadelphia for another TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® event.