SAN DIEGO, Calif. (July 1, 2004) — Two renowned merchant marine training schools have announced a merger after many years of friendly and professional competition. Rags Laragione, owner of the Maritime Institute, and Alex Hickethier, owner of the Southern California Merchant Marine Training Services (SCMMTS), are both excited about the merger of their schools with locations in San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Rags said, “the merger of the two schools will only enhance and improve the maritime educational process by incorporating all the experienced instructors, teaching philosophies, and school locations under one umbrella. In lieu of trying to split potential students between two separate schools, we can now join resources to offer more programming, classes and assistance to the mariners.”
Rags and Alex are both very active within the marine community, and they will continue as guest speakers, attending boat shows, and helping charities.
The schools have trained thousands of students over the past twenty plus years, and now combining the talents of the staff will be able to continue that tradition in the 21st century. The combination of both schools instructors and curriculum will be a tremendous benefit to the students that range from tuna fisherman of San Diego, harbor tour Captains, Law Enforcement, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, yacht Captains, and of course the largest sport fishing fleet in the U.S. Many students have continued to the license level of a Master Unlimited issued by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The variety of free services to students will continue at the schools such as helping with the numerous forms required to apply for or renew a Merchant Marine License.
These forms are available on the very informative website, www.maritimeinstitute.com. Courses now offered range from Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels (OUPV) commonly referred to as six-pack, Master Licenses from 100 ton up to 1600 ton, Third Mate Unlimited, radar, and FCC radio operators permit. In addition, Maritime Institute is certified to teach the International Yachtmaster Training course that is valid in 26 countries. New programs beginning this year are “hands on” GPS, Radar, Boat handling, and Coastal Navigation training on Maritime Institute’s 37’ Sport fisher yacht the “Rhumb Punch.”
Maritime Institute was founded by Chief Frank Gaines in 1978; and. H.G. “Rags” Laragione has been the President and CEO since 1996. Rags, who is retired from the U.S. Navy, currently holds a U. S. Coast Guard 100 Tons Masters License; a 500 Tons Mates License; towing and sailing endorsements, and an International Yachtmaster’s Offshore Instructor’s Certificate for both Power and Sail.
These Federally approved courses meet or exceed the requirements of Title 46 of the United States Code of Federal Regulations, and the Department of Homeland Security, U. S. Coast Guard and the National Maritime Center strictly regulate the schools. In addition, the school is approved by the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) for California Law Enforcement. Students can attend classes in San Diego, Dana Point, Newport Beach, Long Beach, San Pedro, Marina Del Rey, Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Avila Beach, Monterey, Alameda, San Rafael, Catalina Island, Lake Tahoe, and Page, Arizona. The Mobile Training Team is available to travel anywhere upon request.