New student-led program provides hands-on training for shipboard life to freshmen deck cadets

By Katie Hansche, ‘18

Will Darling, Cadet Captain and Deck Training Officer (DTO), along with the other Deck Practical Training officers meet weekly with freshman cadets for training in procedures and etiquette for shipboard life and work.

The Texas Maritime Academy’s newly developed Deck Practical Training (DPT) Department aims to introduce common shipboard topics to freshman cadets in a lecture style atmosphere at the beginning of the week and a more hands-on-approach at the end of the week.

“This helps to give them an idea of what to expect so they are not taken by surprise during the exercise. If we can give them an idea of what they are going to be doing, we feel they can be more prepared to hit the ground running and get the most out of the training exercise,” said Darling, DTO.

These lectures have ranged from line handling and mooring on the T.S. General Rudder to bridge etiquette in the simulator. The DPT officers created and carried out these more hands-on exercises to primarily benefit the freshman, but Darling observed another benefit: peer to peer education.

Darling said, “The cadets are learning from their experienced MART instructors every day in class where they receive the bulk of their knowledge. The DPT program allows for them to hear some of the same information from an upperclass cadet’s point of view who may be able to relate to the younger cadets more easily.”

The DPT officers are Cadet Captain Darling, Cadet Chief Mate Nolan Lough, Cadet Second Mate Seth Williamson, Cadet Third Mate Jack Clark, and Cadet Third Mate Chanse Caire. These cadets all take part in the development of the weekly lectures and are all called upon to teach or advise about things they are familiar with.

At some point during the semester, however, Darling and the DPT officers want to boldly go where few deck cadets have gone before. “This year we look forward to the opportunity of doing some cross training with the engineering practical training department,” said Darling.

“They are starting up the engineering side of the program this year and there have been discussions about creating some deck training exercises for the engineers and vice versa,” Darling continued.

Darling also mentioned the possibility of including some DPT sessions for sophomore deck cadets to further prepare them for their hopeful commercial cruise internships over the summer.

Darling, the DPT officers, and the TMA Corps of Cadets are all proud of what the DPT Department has done for the freshman cadets. Darling expressed that he and some of his classmates wished there was some sort of DPT Department when they were freshman and sophomores to better prepare them for their cruises.

Darling thinks that this department will be cherished and passed down from class to class, ensuring its longevity and benefits.

“I see the DPT department developing into something that people who may have never had experience with Corps leadership, like myself, will want to be involved with,” he said. “We hope to avoid the freshmen thinking that this is just another requirement and develop a negative image of the program.”

“This department is basically a ‘regiment free zone’ where we get together and try to make the cadets who are involved more prepared, proficient, and confident,” he said.

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