MN100: Texas A&M Maritime Academy
Dynamically Positioned for the Future, the Texas A&M Maritime Academy takes its place among our 2019 MN100 best of industry winners. It's 'no accident' that today's early adoption of DP curriculum puts the school and its students front and center when it comes time to man tomorrow's futuristic offshore energy support tonnage.
Late last year, the Offshore Service Vessel Dynamic Positioning Authority (OSVDPA) announced that the Texas A&M Maritime Academy at Texas A&M University at Galveston was now the first maritime academy in the nation accredited to provide OSVDPA courses to its cadets. For U.S. maritime academies – typically and traditionally focused on sending out graduates ready for blue water, deep water service – this represents a sea change in training. On the other hand, what better place to start than the U.S. academy closest in proximity to the heart of the domestic offshore energy industry, and indeed, the heaviest concentration of DP equipped support vessels?
In announcing the accreditation, OSVDPA Executive Director, Aaron Smith said, “Going into the accreditation process we obviously knew of A&M’s reputation as a great maritime training institution, but they surpassed even those lofty expectations. We were extremely impressed with A&M’s instructors, curriculum and equipment. Giving cadets access to top-notch training early in their career will pay great dividends toward the safety of our industry.”
The Texas A&M Maritime Academy is one of seven maritime academies in the United States – six state-run and one federally operated. All of these schools in the past have focused much of their training resources on producing unlimited tonnage, blue water mariners. That’s changing, to a large extent a function of the fact that the U.S. domestic blue water fleet has dwindled to record low numbers. On the other hand, more that 98 percent of the nation’s merchant hulls can be classified as brown water. An increasing number of those also employ dynamic positioning as an important part of their equipment mix.
For cadets to receive an OSVDPA DPO (DP Operator) Certificate they must successfully complete two classroom courses, the first of which covers the theoretical knowledge behind DP operations and the second offers hands on DP experience via the utilization of DP simulators. As the first U.S. Maritime Academy credentialed to teach accredited DP courses, the DP certification is an important step, especially when considering the U.S. training academies – who are all slowly integrating a workboat curriculum into their offerings – have primarily catered to the blue water side of the equation for so long.
Admiral Michael Rodriguez, Superintendent of Texas A&M Maritime Academy, explained the move. “The geographical location of Texas A&M Maritime Academy in Galveston, Texas, makes it the go to academy for well-trained third mates to work in the brown water, oil patch, and coastal towing industries. Students who are considering a career in the oil industry, especially OSVs and drilling rigs, will look at the DP training offered here and understand the importance relative to getting a job in the industry and being successful."