From Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class To Third Mate
Sailor turns dream into reality
Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Richard D. Vissoh has earned his Third Mate Unlimited Oceans certification from the Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy (MAMA) in Norfolk, Va. What would normally take four years to accomplish, took Vissoh only a year and a half, and all at night.
Vissoh dreamed of this moment and knew it would eventually come -- he just didn't know when. During his many deployments, Vissoh would often stand watch on the bridge and have discussions with ensigns and senior officers who attended maritime schools in New York. He would often talk about his desire to become an officer in the Navy and the many opportunities that come with that designation. A few of the officers Vissoh spoke to had the Third Mate certification in their backgrounds.
"I always had a goal to become an officer in the U.S. Navy and just assumed that you had to be an officer to be able eligible for Third Mate," said Vissoh. "Once I came to MARMC, I met a recruiter from MAMA and found out that I could register for the program. I knew opportunities like this one only come around a few times in one's lifetime. I didn't second guess it and I was fully committed to completing the program."
The Third Mate Unlimited Oceans certification process is a rigorous program complete with numerous classes ranging from basic entry level courses all the way up to Bridge Resource Management and Celestial Navigation. Vissoh completed 23 night courses, with each class lasting from one to four weeks. After completing the courses, Vissoh's next step was to complete 37 individual assessments (very similar to personnel qualification standards). Once the assessments were complete, they were sent to the U.S. Coast Guard for verification. Once verified, Vissoh received a letter stating that he could test for his Third Mate certification. Vissoh studied for the next 30 days before taking the exams.
"I worked, came home and studied," said Vissoh. "I really didn't have much time for social events or even family time. On weekends, I studied all day. On Sunday, for example, I would go to church in the morning and then go right to the library and study all day."
Vissoh's hard work and dedication paid off as he passed all seven exams. He attained a certification that very few have in the Navy.
"The entire staff at Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy is truly impressed with Vissoh's accomplishments," said Ed Horton, MAMA's lead instructor. "He passed all seven exams for the Third Mate certification. There are several maritime academies located around the U.S. and those students have four years to take their classes, study and prepare for their exams. Vissoh did everything in one and a half years, at night! This even includes him taking off eight weeks to study for his first class exam."