Maritime Training Expands to Meet Louisiana Gulf Demand

By Susan Buchanan
Friday, October 18, 2013

Employers are hiring in coastal Louisiana, especially as offshore drilling picks up in the Gulf of Mexico. Companies are concerned about finding enough skilled workers in a locally tight labor market. For mariners, a variety of training programs at different levels and costs are offered in south Louisiana. For those businesses without the significant wherewithal and training resources of a Kirby Corporation, for example, there are other viable options for training. A quick look at three such vocational and professional programs – all of which work closely with the maritime industry – sheds light on the breadth of these offerings:

Fletcher Technical Community College: The college’s Louisiana Marine and Petroleum Institute or LaMPI was founded in the late 1970s to provide local maritime training. The institute provides Coast Guard-approved courses to about 2,200 mariners a year now. Fletcher and LaMPI are located in Houma on the Louisiana Gulf. “LaMPI caters to people who work themselves up from the deck,” said Breck Chaisson, LaMPI’s director of operations. The institute’s Tankerman class has a simulator that provides students with four of the ten transfers they need for a license, he said. The training doesn’t stop there, however. “We offer an Able bodied Seaman class, Proficiency in Survival, and RFPNW or Rating Forming Part of a Navigational Watch, so mariners can get everything they need to become an A/B.” Chaisson adds that because the RFPNW is a preferred class, the Coast Guard will waive 120 days of the180 days an Able bodied Seaman needs for a rating. That course (RFPNW) class relies on a Kongsberg full-mission bridge simulator. Custom programming for the Kongsberg simulator was developed for the intersection of the Atchafalaya River and the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway in Louisiana for towing companies in need of such training. Kongsberg Maritime is a marine-solutions company based in Norway. LaMPI offers classes for 100-to-200 ton captains and a prep class for upgrades to a 500 or 1,600-ton license. The institute also offers an apprentice mate class for those in the towing industry. To learn more, visit

Martin International Inc.: In LaPlace, privately owned Martin International, licensed by the state of Louisiana, has provided maritime training for 31 years. Martin offers Coast Guard- approved courses that include Able Seaman; Offshore Installation Manager; Barge Supervisor; Ballast Control Operator; Stability and Ballast Control for Mobile Offshore Drilling Units, Active Ballast (TLP), and Passive Ballast (SPAR and Mini-TLP); Radar Observer-Unlimited; Radar Observer-Recertification; and Medic FA Basic CPR, AED and First Aid 7.0. “We’re members of the International Association of Drilling Contractors, the Offshore Marine Service Organization and the Society of Petroleum Engineers,” Martin’s President Russell Martin said. “Our expertise as a training organization allows us to work closely with the offshore industry in compliance with federal regulations, and our experienced staff sees that our students receive appropriate maritime licenses for advancement of their mariners’ careers.” On the Web:

Nicholls State University: This fall, Nicholls State in Thibodaux began offering maritime management as a degree concentration at its College of Business Administration. The program will prepare students for a career in the maritime industry, with a focus on the oil and gas sector. Louisiana’s technical and community colleges have programs to train workers in specific maritime skills, said Ken Chadwick, director of Nicholls maritime management program. “Until now, there was no four-year business program to address the need for managerial expertise in the industry,” he said .So far, 29 traditional students pursuing maritime management are enrolled, along with 15 local-business employees who are taking at least one course in a certificate program. Enrollment is expected to grow next semester. The new program is funded by local and regional businesses at a time when state money for higher education is being cut. Local companies have collaborated to develop courses and content, Chadwick said. The program includes a summer internship with a maritime-related firm. Industry leaders such as Abdon Callais, Bollinger Shipyards, L&M Botruc, Edison Chouest Offshore, Iberia Marine, Montco Offshore, Odyssea Marine, SEACOR Marine and Yellowfin Marine Services, have all agreed to hire interns. Nicholls State invites other interested firms to consider offering internships. For more about maritime management courses, visit

(As published in the October 2013 edition of Marine News -

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