Senate OKs legislation for maritime centers of excellence

The following is the text of a news release from San Jacinto College:

(PASADENA, Texas) — San Jacinto College is one step closer to having a maritime center of excellence. The U.S. Senate recently voted to approve maritime work force centers of excellence legislation as part of the fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This follows a vote by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year to approve the legislation.

While there are slight differences between the House-passed maritime work force centers of excellence provision and the Senate-passed provision, both are based on the original Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act (H.R. 2286) to authorize federal support for maritime centers of excellence at two-year community and technical colleges. In late June, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security voted to adopt an amendment by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., to include language from the Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act into a Maritime Administration (MarAd) reauthorization bill (S. 1096). 

The Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act was offered on the Senate floor in September as part of broader package of maritime provisions contained in an NDAA amendment by Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Deb Fisher, R-Neb., and Cory Booker, D-N.J. The Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act is unique and precedent-setting in that it is limited to community and technical colleges.

As centers of excellence, two-year colleges will be able to expand their capacity to train domestic maritime workers by admitting more students, training faculty, expanding facilities, creating new maritime career pathways from associate degree to baccalaureate degree programs, and awarding credit for prior learning experience, including military service. 

Since 2010, the San Jacinto College maritime program has awarded more than 5,500 U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)-approved course completion certificates. Keeping current with the most recent developments of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW), which require some tasks to be completed on a vessel, the college has received support from MarAd to allow maritime students access to Ready Reserve Fleet ships. This will ensure that they complete their required training to advance in the industry and stay current with USCG requirements.

By Professional Mariner Staff