Seattle Maritime Academy gets $1 million amid shortage of ferry workers

SEATTLE — The Seattle Maritime Academy received $1 million on Friday amid a shortage of ferry workers that has continued to cause long waits and canceled sailings.

The one-time funding came from money the city received as part of the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Washington State Ferries has partnered with the academy, where students train in classrooms, aboard vessels and in state-of-the art engine room and captain’s bridge simulators.

About one-in-four of WSF’s current engine room employees graduated from the maritime academy.

The academy offers a 90-day paid internship at sea with the state ferry system and says tug and shipping companies are also in urgent need of their graduates.

A portion of the money will fill a gap in funding for Seattle Central College’s operation of the academy for the 2022-2023 school year. The remaining will go to community outreach and recruitment through the academy for the Maritime Vessel Operations Program, and Advanced Manufacturing, which is part of the Seattle Skills Center at Seattle Public Schools.

“Keeping these programs operating will increase access to training for young people looking for high-paying, skilled jobs in the maritime industry. Jobs that offer stable employment and a good career pathway,” said Seattle Councilmember Tammy J. Morales, who secured the funding.

“Maritime is one of Washington state’s core industries, but it faces an uncertain future as we grapple with a shortage of qualified mariners. SMA opens up doors for students to launch amazing career opportunities on the water and is a valued partner of our Washington State Ferries team,” said Gov. Jay Inslee.