Today in Vessel Operations class we went to Atlantic Basin in Red hook Brooklyn to go to a Maritime areer fair. We were the only high school that arrived by boat and it showed that we have a leg up on other schools trying to expose their students to the Maritime Field. A plethora of companies were in attendance ranging from Hornblower Cruises & Events to the NYPD Dive team. It was amazing to get to talk to all of these companies and get an idea of the endless possibilities given to me by the NYHS. One of the companies even gave our school a shout-out when he introduced his company because he knew that our school produced hard working mariners. I was mainly interested in the New York Waterway/DockNYC because they talked to me about how they train their deckhands to eventually become captains that make a hefty salary. They also offered jobs both on and off the water something most other companies couldn’t. Overall the career fair was extremely enlightening and really gave a snapshot of the Maritime Industry in NYC today.
When our class met Captain Todd on his brand new cruise ship, he began to tell us of his extrodinary life. He told us about how he came to be the successful captain he is today with an unlimited ton masters liscense. When he began to explain his education to us, he told us that he didn’t go to a maritime college; he was a hospiper. He originally went to college to become an economics professor. Captain Todd would come to the South Street Seaport on the weekends to be the Captain aboard the Pioneer and slowly upgraded his liscense. He continued to sail for fun and eventually worked his way up an unlimited ton masters liscense. He had to recertify his liscenses when he began to work for the cruise line; Royal Carribean. Overall, his introduction to the Maritime Industry was extremely interesting to me because I’m considering going to a non-maritime college but I still wanna keep being involved in the Maritime community.
Last week my vessel operations class went to the port of sector New York to meet the Captain of the Port of New York, Micheal H. Day and see VTS (Vessel Traffic Services) in action. Unfortunately Captain Day was preoccupied and couldn’t meet with us and we instead met with the Senior Reserve Officer (SRO) for USCG Sector of New York, Captain Matthew McCann. He had over 20 years of experience in the Coast Guard.
Captain McCann explained to us the responsibilities as captain of the port and explained to us how he moved up through the ranks to where he is today. Vessel Traffic Services is very similar to Air Traffic Control except instead of queuing up airplanes for takeoff and landing, they monitor anchor sites, make vessels aware of other large vessels and overall ensure the safety of mariners. VTS however doesn’t cover any vessel under 200 feet or 100 gross tonnes; they control traffic within the harbor through a plethora of techniques. Not only do they rely on radio communications from vessels but have also an extensive network of high definition cameras along the harbor and electronic charts that allow them to control the craziness that is commercial shipping in New York Harbor.
My fellow students I got VIP access to see what VTS was really like and got to talk to real VTS operators and watch them in real time. The VTS operators offered a wealth of knowledge and told us not only about their experiences in VTS but through out the Coast Guard. However, not all operators were enlisted. In fact, nearly half of them were civilian which showed me something I never knew before: I could work for the Coast Guard without being enlisted! It also taught me how much logistic work goes into shipping. This trip opened my eyes to new careers and interests.
A group of harbor school students and I went to Maine Maritime Academy in April to learn about their curriculum and the academy as a whole. As pictured below Captain Rick Miller is giving us an intro in celestial navigation using sextants. He explained how a sextant is used; first you find the star in your eyepiece, then bring it down to the horizon using the multiple mirrors and then read the angle of the star and use that information for navigation.
We went to the Kennaday Planetarium where we viewed the ineffable night sky of Castine, Maine. He explained to us that in celestial navigation they use 56 stars as well as polaris, the sun and a few planets. It’s vital we learn celestial navigation and paper charts because GPS can go awry during solar flares and other electromagnetic events.
Overall he taught us the importance of redundancies as well as giving us a wonderful introduction into the wild world of celestial navigation. The trip gave us an experience very few people get before attending Maine Maritime and gave us a true idea of what maritime college life is like.
During our vessel operations’ class today, we practiced MOB (man overboard) drills on our navy launch on Indy 7. We ran our drills in groups of 4. Each group decided who would be helmsman, deckhand 1, 2 and 3. The helmsman steers the boat while the 3 deckhands rescued the victim from the water–in our case, Oscar the dummy. Each deckhand had an integral part in the rescue of the victim. Deckhand 1 called out “Man overboard”, pointed to Oscar’s location and tossed the life ring towards our victim. All of this, Deckhand 3 had to do with their eyes and hand pointed towards Oscar. If we lose track of where Oscar is, there’s no chance that we can recover him. Deckhand 2 put on a harness and set up the rope ladder off the side of the boat so that they could, if necessary, climb over safely to help the victim up. Deckhand 3 assisted in anyway possible and spotted their fellow deckhands when they leaned over the gunnel of the boat to rescue the victim. In my group the captain was my classmate Steve, Deckhand 1 was my classmate Brianna, Deckhand 2 was my classmate Jared, and I was Deckhand 3. To simulate a man overboard situation two students threw Oscar off the port side stern without any warning. The rest of the class would be wrapped up in their own tasks and suddenly we’d hear “Man Overboard!” After each set of crew ran their drill we debriefed on the pros and cons of their execution. We were able to give constructive criticism and even critique our own responses. This lesson not only gave us real-world experience in a rescue situation but also was a great lesson on teamwork.