Native Virgin Islander Capt. John Holmberg bought The Captain School from Capt. Patrick Casey on January 1, 2010 bringing new classes and new services along with the new ownership for The Captain School, located on the second floor of American Yacht Harbor in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Most recently employed as the business manager of Ondeck Ocean Racing's St. Thomas office, Holmberg has over 35 years of international sailing, diving, entertaining and chartering under his belt. He has also participated in a number of marine rescues.
"I want people to enjoy our waters and they can do this safely if they are better educated," said Holmberg. He and Captain Russ Charette, along with Casey, teach The Captain School's basic courses on a monthly basis year round. Casey, who opened the school in the 1990s and shifted his base of operations to Cape Coral, Florida a few years ago, still serves as a visiting instructor.
Basic courses include the Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessels (OUPV) or 'six pack' captain's license, which allows the transport of up to six passengers on an uninspected vessel in U.S. waters. This is a two-week course taught at night and on weekends ($550). There's the three-day Masters course, which is an upgrade from the OUPV license to cover inspected vessels in the 25- to 100-ton range and operation in foreign as well as domestic waters ($250).
Two additional four-hour courses include an Auxiliary Sail Endorsement, required to operate multi-passenger sailing vessels, and the Commercial Assistance Towing Endorsement, which enables the holder to be paid for commercial towing services ($95 each). All the preceding courses are also taught twice yearly in St. Croix, usually in June and December, in a compact seven-day format.
The Captain School also offers four STCW-95 (Standards of Training and Certification of Watchkeeping) courses taught six times annually. Instructors are Capt. Casey and Capt. Jeff Mahl, who formerly was in charge of STCW training for Carnival Cruise Lines. The STCW-Basic Safety Training Course certification is required of all personnel operating passenger vessels on international voyages. For those operating aboard vessels up to 199 tons, the school offers this three-day certification required of most mariners, including immersion suit use ($395).
Three additional STCW courses taught include: Crowd Control ($200), Crisis Management and Human Behavior ($245) and Security Officer Training ($750). The latter is a course unique to The Captain School that includes Vessel, Company and Facility Security Officer training in a comprehensive three day format.
"Liability today has shifted from the company and the owner to now include the Master and the Security Officer aboard the vessel, therefore certification as a Facility Security Officer is invaluable training to have for compliance concerns," said Holmberg. "This U.S. Coast Guard approved training is also available to personnel working in or near Port Facilities such as cruise ship piers and ferry terminals."
Private classes are available for those who need training sooner than the regularly scheduled dates or have employee group training needs. Holmberg may add a short version of Silver Service training class for stewards and stewardesses next season.
In addition to instruction, the school now offers services such as drug testing, FCC marine operator permits testing, USCG approved CPR and First Aid, a network of area physicians to expedite physical exams and notary services.
Holmberg brings his personal skills to the offering of hands-on learn-to-sail classes aboard an IC-24 and learn-to-powerboat classes on a 25-foot powercat. He also offers race committee training and in-depth instruction in sailboat racing. U.S. Sailing certifications are available and private lessons on your own vessel are offered as well.
"Many of our students come for the valuable information and training so they feel comfortable operating their own vessels, not to mention the discounts given by their insurance company," says Holmberg. "This can be substantial and can pay for itself in first year's savings." For more information,
Information submitted by The Captain School