San Jac maritime programs move full speed ahead


Christopher Rodriguez

The pile of equipment will eventually outfit the simulator room at the maritime facility at Central campus.

If there’s one program at San Jacinto College that sails the seven seas, it’s the Maritime program.


The program director for Central campus, Captain Mitch Schacter, explained the broad scope of the program that maintains a different focus on each of the three campuses.


“San Jacinto College Maritime is three-parts. On the North campus, it’s called Maritime Logistics. That’s everything that happens in the Port of Houston. South campus is Maritime Administration, which is shipping company management,” Schacter said.


“What we do here (Central campus) is the U.S. Coast Guard required and approved training for the professional mariners that work on a boat. If you’re receiving a paycheck to work on a boat, you have to have Coast Guard training,” he said.


Schacter said San Jac’s maritime students range from young beginners, to experienced seamen.


“We train from the eighteen-year-old deckhand on a tugboat, to the sixty-five-year old captain on an oil tanker. Coast Guard requires certain training all the way along, and anytime you want to upgrade, you need more training and sea time (days at sea),”  he said.


According to Shacter, maritime jobs are in demand, and that trend is expected to continue.

“The industry is going through a big growth spurt. Sixty percent of our workers are over fifty years old. So between those sixty percent retiring, and all the new business we have, there is tremendous need for new maritime workers. And it’s huge money, great time off, and it’s an attractive career,” he said.

The local maritime industry asked San Jac to start the program in order to service the needs of existing mariners who need certification upgrades or renewals to continue working.

“We have the 18 year old recent high school grad, and we have the Maritime Academy graduate out of Texas A&M. Those are our only two applicants: the guy that knows nothing and the one who we don’t get to talk to because they go off to ocean,” Schacter said.

“They (maritime industry) asked for a two-year degree that gave the high school student two more years to mature, all the Coast Guard classes that they would have to have later on in the career, and a little bit more math and science. So, we now have a college degree attached to it,” he said.

The program at Central campus is currently housed in a temporary building, but is being outfitted with all the necessary equipment, Schacter said.

“We have classrooms, labs, and we have simulators being installed. It’s a room-sized simulator, and we’ll run you out of there seasick. The room doesn’t move. It’s all visual… We have three simulators coming in. Our small simulators have fourteen 65” monitors. The bigger ones even more; it takes over 100 networked PCs to run it,” he said.

The College is building a new facility in the Bayport Terminal Facility right next to the Port of Houston.

San Jac is the only community college in Texas to have its own maritime program.