Austin HS students get to experience tugboat life

Austin HS junior Martin Delgado sits at the controls of the tugboat, ZEUS.

Austin HS junior Martin Delgado sits at the controls of the tugboat, ZEUS.

Six students from Austin High School’s maritime academy spent the morning of Jan. 30 aboard one of the newest and most technologically advanced harbor tugs on the Houston Ship Channel.

Representatives from G & H Towing Company on the 80-foot ZEUS took a break from assisting waterborne commerce to allow the students—all juniors in the maritime program—to spend some time on deck, in the wheelhouse, and in the engine room, learning about the types of careers available on the Houston waterfront.

Retired Coast Guard Master Chief John Buchanan, who serves as the lead maritime instructor at Austin, brought innovation and 30 years of his own shipboard and leadership experience to the maritime academy, and this is the latest in a string of initiatives designed to get students thinking about employment opportunities and excited to contribute to the Houston economy.

Austin High School is situated a few blocks away from the Houston Ship Channel, one of the city’s economic engines for the past 100 years.

“Very few of our students are even aware of the many opportunities right here in front of them,” Buchanan said. “Many of these jobs are stable, high-paying, and often do not require a four-year college education.”

Under the direction of new Principal Steve Guerrero, Buchanan is expanding the school’s maritime program to ensure opportunities for both college-bound and non-college-bound graduates.

Junior Martin Delgado had the chance to sit at the controls of the powerful harbor tug and experience first-hand the duties of her crew. “Maritime is full of opportunities,” said Delgado. “Visiting these tugs is an example of the stuff we get to do. How many teenagers get to say they’ve been on a tug?”

Austin is one of two HISD high schools that offers a maritime academy. The other is Yates.

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