Chesapeake training school marks 20th anniversary

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The Chesapeake Marine Training Institute is celebrating 20 years and has grown into a marine educational service that trains more than 1,000 professional mariners each year.

Even after training more than 15,000 students, the importance of what professional mariners take away from their studies at the Gloucester, Va.-based school is not lost on Capt. Guy Sorensen.

“We know that through much of our training we are saving lives and property at sea,” Sorensen said in a statement. “That in itself carries a lot of responsibility and is extremely rewarding.”

Sorensen founded the institute in 1992 with a mission to deliver competitive, high-quality products and superior marine-related instruction and services to professional mariners.

He enlisted in the Coast Guard after high school and came up through the ranks, moving to chief petty officer and chief warrant officer and receiving a direct commission to lieutenant as a surface operations specialist. He retired as a lieutenant commander after 30 years of service.

His duty stations gave him experience in every type of water, from the East Coast Atlantic Ocean to the North Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea and all five of the Great Lakes. Sorensen served as the commanding officer at Coast Guard Station Annapolis in Maryland before retiring from Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown in Virginia.

“It seemed that most training programs available to mariners seeking a Coast Guard license were only teaching the answers to a bunch of test questions and not educating the mariner with important skills and knowledge,” Sorensen said in a statement. “There had to be a better way.”

In 1992 he advertised and held the training institute’s first class, a captain’s course for mariners seeking Coast Guard licenses up to 100 gross tons.

“That first class had four students in it,” Sorensen said. “All four of them completed our training and passed the Coast Guard examinations on their first attempt at the regional exam center in Baltimore, which was almost unheard of back then.”

Today the institute trains roughly 1,000 students a year in more than 30 Coast Guard-approved courses that offer on-site testing at the school. The on-site testing component is an important aspect of the institute, Sorensen said.

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