Most vessels categorized between these tonnages are considered workboats. Workboats are used to assist in waterfront construction projects, dig mud to widen and deepen channels, assist with the docking/undocking of ships, transport critical crew and supplies to offshore locations, and haul cargo from port to port via a barge towed astern or pushed ahead. Still more operations in the maritime industry depend on the special knowledge that comes with a 500-1600 GRT license such as some ferry boats, small cruise ships, underwater salvage vessels, and some research vessels.
Though this type of license has a federal “limit” to the tonnage that the officer is allowed to command, the variety of projects that workboats accomplish makes this mariner very well-rounded and marketable towards companies seeking professionals. There are some distinct differences between the unlimited and 500-1600 GRT licenses. Generally speaking, voyages from port to port are shorter; anywhere from one week to two months and are usually confined to near coastal runs. The crew size onboard workboats is smaller; between four to eight members of differing job duties. The person maintaining the navigational watch usually stands their duty solo and does not have a team to assist: meaning that monitoring the radars, radios, electronic chart, logbook, steering and other duties need to be efficiently performed simultaneously.
The watch systems onboard are designed to provide rest time and work times for licensed personnel. This is usually the “six on six off” system that begins at midnight each day. Workboats themselves are smaller and ride in the sea a bit rougher than other vessels, but are also much more maneuverable in operation. Crews often share the cooking/cleaning duties and physical space at more of a premium than on a ship.
Another aspect that separates a workboat crew is rigging. The deck crews of smaller vessels are more capable at rigging cargo to be towed or transited in other configurations; becoming part of and learning to lead the safe work on deck is a major part of the job. Apprenticeship training in how to direct workboat operations and becoming a deck officer brings many diverse opportunities in the maritime industry.
"The Maritime Apprenticeship Program allowed me to fully experience life and work on the water while providing the level of support and structure I needed ashore and in the classroom. I've been sailing for seven years on tugboats and now hold a 1600 Ton Master, Oceans, and Master of Towing, Oceans. I am continually rewarded by my thriving career."
“Going through the Maritime Apprenticeship Program was the best career decision I ever made”.
“The MAP gave me real-world training and experience that was invaluable for starting my career, and I still use my training every day on the job.”
“The apprenticeship relationship between the cadet and partner company allows both parties to get to know each other and grow together. The schedule of the program is excellent and the order of classes is logical. I went straight from License Prep to sit for my license; two days after getting my license I was sailing as a full-time employee.”