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New State of the Art Lifeboat Facility

As reprinted from the Sun Sentinel:

Knowing how to deploy lifeboats quickly and safely from a ship or yacht can mean the difference between life and death.

A Fort Lauderdale school has opened a new facility to train and certify crews to do that, investing about $500,000 in the effort.

Maritime Professional Training this month debuted the facility featuring a special crane and state-of-the-art lifeboat on a corner of the Dania Beach site for retailers Nautical Ventures Group.

The investment comes after this month's sinking of cargo ship El Faro off the Bahamas during Hurricane Joaquin, apparently leaving all 33 crew dead. The episode has raised awareness of the importance of maritime training and lifeboat deployment, said Captain Ted Morley, the school's chief operations officer.

 

"Minutes can matter in deploying a lifeboat," Morley said. Training considers such harsh conditions as hurricanes. "We want to take these tragedies and turn them into teaching moments," he said.

The new facility is part of a larger $5 million-plus expansion underway by MPT in Broward County.

The school also is increasing labs, offices and other space at its Fort Lauderdale campus by about one-third to reach 61,000 square feet. Plus, it is upgrading its classroom and online technology.

The expansion is due to be finished in January, increasing full- and part-time staff from about 130 to 150 people. More space should boost enrollment by at least 2,000 to top 13,000 students per year, some in daylong sessions and others in six-month courses, MPT leaders said.

Nautical Ventures partnered with MPT on the lifeboat facility in a broader safety push that also includes inviting Coast Guard Auxiliary staff to some of its consumer events, CEO Roger Moore said.

The retailer also stands to gain when crews and captains train near its store, which offers yacht tenders and other gear that those students might buy. Said Moore: "It's a home run from a marketing standpoint."

Training at the new lifeboat facility, Morley said, typically will take a week and cost $1,200 for the certification course.

Manufacturers of lifeboats and related gear also can use the facility for testing of hooks, straps and other equipment.

dhemlock@sunsentinel.com, 305-810-5009, @dhemlock on Twitter