Thailand Merchant Marine Education

The core of Thailand Merchant Marine educational system is, without doubt, the Thailand Merchant Marine Training Centre, the main national facility for training Merchant Marine officers - navigators and engineers.

There are at least two other facilities, in form of special faculties in University, in Burapha and in Kasetsart Universities, both located in Chonburi province, but unquestionably, they’re behind both in quality and in quantity, being strictly commercial institutions.
Thailand Merchant Marine Training Centre is financed by Government, and is having its’ own facilities, from learning schools and workshops to dormitories and sport courts. It’s an institution exclusively committed to training marine officers, located in designated area on Chao Praya river left bank near estuary, with its’ own small port, capable of docking 6,000-ton ships.
I’ve been given MMTC general description, and shown around, by Mr. Bordin Srimanee, Head of Training Division.

Every year MMTC navigational and engineering faculties welcome 100 new cadets each, 200 in total. Of course not all of them make it to finish line, some 60-70 on average. Courses duration is 5 years, including 3,5 years of academic study and 1,5 years of sea practice. Yearly study is divided into two semesters, 4 months each.
Though education is considered to be fee-based, it doesn’t look expensive, especially in comparison with other universities tuition costs. Fee consists of two basic parts, covering tuition and dwelling costs, some 4,000 Baht (around $120) monthly. Fee doesn’t include uniform and pocket money, those are extra expenses. Taking into account all the facilities MMTC has, actual educational cost may well be considered as partially subsidized by State.

One of the main assets of MMTC (which no other educational body in the country possesses) is an ownership of two training ships:
Training ship SAKHON WISAI, IMO 9463968, GT 4396, capacity 200 cadets, built 2010;
Training ship VISUDSAKORN, IMO 8417467, GT 1089, built 1986.
Both ships are based at MMTC owned port, consisting of two piers, see pics and photos.
As anywhere in the world, one of the main problems of maritime education is shortage of ships for cadets’ sea training, and those institutions which have specialized ships, understandably, have the advantage of training quality.

Cadets dwell in dormitories, with sports and pastime facilities, and in general, being subject to some semi-military discipline, so common in Merchant Marine Colleges in many countries. It is far from being as strict, as military, but is just enough to prevent young boys from civil students’ excesses and extravagances. All cadets while at MMTC are wearing uniform and march around in units, saluting their superiors. Walking around MMTC territory and watching those smartly dressed boys leaves an impression of being a visitor to a sound, stable and fashioned in good old style maritime institution, “just like it should be”, one could say.

Decreasing number of young people willing to cast their lot with maritime career, either as navigator or as an engineer, is as characteristic of modern Thailand, as generally around the globe. MMTC prefers graduates from schools with intensified mathematics courses, so in nowadays MMTC’s enter contest is about zero.
On the other hand, there’s a positive side in unwillingness of modern youth to become seafarers – those who do make such decision and enter maritime college, do it more conscientiously, than their predecessors some 20-30 years ago. They’re going against new age mainstream, that in itself being quite a challenge, requiring personal qualities, which are very useful and welcome in maritime marine industry.

The problem of new generations discarding professional, highly specialized careers as too bothersome and anachronistic is a worldwide one, and there seems to be no cure for it. Youth are looking for Big Chance in Internet, whatever it may be, or, if their parents are rich enough, get the degree in something which can’t even be described in exact terms, let alone understood – who’re they with this degree, what exactly they can do, what are their skills and knowledge, like you know, management or literature, or history, or politology, or things like that. Armed with those universal degrees, they are ready to conquer the world, as managerial genius and future CEO, or governmental employee, or journalist, or dig in modern golden mines in forms of myriads of NGOs, saving the world in return for a hefty income, and bearing no responsibility at all. All those wonderful opportunities don’t require one thing, in fact that thing is considered as a big minus – it’s some real profession, some real, basic knowledge of something, of anything at all. The wider is their ignorance in form of non-descript degree, the better.

I made a very perfunctory tour around MMTC, many things in which I’m interested went missing, and first of all, overall review of navigational training, to find out if cadets are trained enough to navigate by conventional means, without ECDIS and GPS.
Hopefully, I’ll visit MMTC some time soon, and come up with more detailed report on education itself.

Voytenko Mikhail
February 2018

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