Our next Triton Networking event is Feb. 21 — the third Wednesday of the month — with Bluewater Crew Training USA. Join us as we help the school celebrate three years in its new facility off Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. The crew training and yacht management business merged with Bluewater in Europe in September of 2016 to offer yacht crew training and placement opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic.
Until then, learn more about Bluewater Crew Training USA from one of its owners, Chief Operations Officers Amilee Luke.
Q. Bluewater Crew Training USA has gone through lots of iterations over the years. Tell us about the school today.
International Crew Training grew out of a predecessor yacht training company started in Fort Lauderdale in the mid-1990s, the first such program outside of Europe to focus on the training requirements unique to the superyacht industry.
Three years ago, in December 2014, we moved into our new facility on Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. This new facility is over 45,000 square feet in total space, of which 20,000 square feet are dedicated to training space, complete with our own indoor swimming pool.
At that time we were awarded additional MCA course approvals to add to our already strong offering, and established ourselves as the regional office of the Professional Yachting Association (PYA).
We changed the way our training center viewed students. Our core value is that we want to provide students with more value than they expect. The only way to provide that level of service was to treat them like customers, not students.
All this was part of a reorganization effort to be the leading yacht training facility anywhere.
In September of 2016, after a few years working with Bluewater in Europe, we operationally merged with them and extended our reach as a global “complete” yacht services company.
Today, Bluewater Management and Crew Training USA is owned and managed by Dr. Jay Lasner, Brian Luke and myself.
Our mission is a dedication to onboard safety by providing high quality management services and empowering maritime crew through an exceptional training experience. Our core values include: Focusing on meeting the needs of our customers through safety, caring, fun, integrity and passion.
We collaborate as a team and are committed to training the highest quality captains and crew for the maritime industry. We act with respect, professionalism, and integrity as well as being open and honest in our communication. We value each other and embrace our diverse beliefs. We are accountable for our own actions in training, customer service, management, leadership, safety, operations, and with business partners. We foster a positive and innovative training environment for our customers, instructors and employees.
Q. Your partnership with Bluewater, the placement agency and charter company, gives the company some heft. How do those pieces help your students?
Bluewater and ICT have partnered, under the Bluewater name, to provide our customers with more resources that include free global training, enhanced career opportunities and yacht management.
By merging our training services with crew placement and offering the One Account, captains and crew now have the opportunity to receive free training. Our One Account is a crew recruitment and yacht training product exclusive to Bluewater. Every dollar spent on crew recruitment is given back in training vouchers. Within a 12-month subscription, the yacht will receive unlimited access to our crew database, plus training vouchers in relation to its size. We also provide a dedicated team to support the vessel via an assisted search functionally by email or phone. The One Account is a revolutionary way to recruit crew and provide training.
Q. Bluewater is also one of the schools authorized to sign off on the training record book. Tell us about that.
You are partially correct. It is not the school that is authorized to sign off on the TRB but rather me personally. Over the course of many years, I have established a trusted relationship with the MCA (through the training center) and subsequently have been authorized to sign off, attesting to copies of original documents and the TRB.
Q. I understand you’ve become a sort of guidance counselor to students. What do you sense as the biggest concern new crew have or the challenge they seem to be dealing with most?
I have become somewhat of an adviser to crew navigating their way to an OOW or Master level CoC. Understanding the sea time requirements, course certificates and training needed to reach the next level within the MCA and USCG can be quite daunting for the average crew member. I provide advice and guidance on what is needed for each application.
However, I must be careful to explain that this is free guidance on what I believe the regulations stipulate. The responsibility for the application and certificates required always belongs to the student. Additionally, every six months, Bluewater Crew Training USA hosts the MCA oral exams. We provide a one-week MCA oral preparation course. I lead the instructional team that delivers this course and again, I provide advice and guidance for crew members in the Notice of Eligibility application process. The NOE must be approved by the MCA prior to the crew member sitting for examination. Since most students are filling out and submitting the NOE application for the first time, many students find my advice and guidance helpful. My council helps lift a burden off their shoulders during a time when they should be 100 percent focused on passing the exam.
Q. What advice do you have for mid-career crew?
Don’t procrastinate when it comes to your career. Many times I find young men and women that have spent much time working hard on the yacht and not enough time on their career education and progression. There is a balance. After gaining valuable and prerequisite time at sea, crew members need to make plans to continue with their shoreside education. A career at sea should also be a commitment to educating oneself on land. Becoming a great captain is a combination of at-sea experience and on-shore education. That’s how every professional in any industry makes it to the top. We all want our yachts run by professionals, and education is every bit as important as sea time.
Q. Tell us about your background. Did you work on yachts?
No, I have never worked on a yacht. Over the years, I worked at the executive level for a number of companies. My expertise is in quality management systems and human resources. I joined Bluewater about eight years ago at the management level and from scratch learned all about the maritime licensing and certification process. I will say that the MCA and USCG licensing and certification process is really a quality management system, and that is what I’m really good at.
Q. Last year was an exciting time with the merger. Can you give us a wrap up of the changes last year, and give us a sneak peek at what’s on deck for 2018?
The most exciting parts of last year where adding the One Account and Bluewater Crew Training USA expanding into a yacht management company.
As for 2018, we believe that the MCA may be making some changes to how all deck crew are trained in the future. We only hope it will be for the betterment of the crew and industry. The superyacht industry needs to “up its game” in professional licensing and training as some yachts, such as M/Y Azzam, are now exceeding 590 feet (180m). These are ships, and to safely operate them, we need to professionally crew them as such.
All captains, crew and industry professionals are welcome to join us for Triton Networking at Bluewater Crew Training USA, 750 W. Sunrise Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale (33311). For more information about the school, visit www.bluewateryachting.com.