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Maritime training program pays off for tug boat captain

Sean HayhurstSean Hayhurst spent $1,200 and two weeks to earn his 100 Gross Ton Master’s License from Tidewater Community College. The result was a promotion and a $25,000 raise.

“I was thoroughly impressed with the program,” said the Portsmouth native, today a 100-ton tug boat captain for Anchor Innovation, a Navy contractor based at Naval Station Norfolk. “I’ve been on the water my whole life and learned more in my first week than I had known in my entire life.”

The 100 Gross Ton Master’s License is one of several U.S. Coast-Guard-approved courses offered by the Hampton Roads Maritime Training Program (HRMTP) based at the Center for Workforce Solutions. Day and evening classes are available; Hayhurst completed his during the day as he had the added bonus of his employer giving him paid time off.

The promotion allows Hayhurst, formerly a deck hand, to captain a boat unsupervised and ensures he has the training for additional contracts that require advanced credentials. While applying for the Coast Guard license – which requires 360 days on the sea to be eligible – can be daunting in itself given the stringent requirements, Hayhurst is grateful for the instruction provided by Steve Midas, administrator for the HRMTP.

“He had a checklist that made it so easy,” Hayhurst said. “He walked us through the process.”

After years of struggling with jobs that ranged from construction to chipping timber in the Hampton Roads humidity, Hayhurst finally feels job satisfaction and job security in his new career. He plans to continue his maritime training at TCC and work toward his 200 Gross Ton Master’s License.

Hayhurst recommends the program to anyone with a love of the water, noting, “Having the license means a lot. Obviously, it was a pretty substantial raise. If you were to come in having some skills and some knowledge of the water, this is the course for you because it opens so many avenues. Norfolk is the largest natural harbor in the world. Waterfront jobs are everywhere. There’s opportunity if you have credentials. There are a lot of schools in the area that are maritime academies, but you can get the same type of training more affordably at TCC.

“Licensed, credentialed people on the water are in demand. If you have a passion and a skill, get the piece of paper. It makes a difference.”

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