Tongue Point Job Corps Center acquired the Ironwood, a 180-foot buoy tender that was decommissioned from the U.S. Coast Guard in 2000.

A private individual acquired the ship and donated it to the Department of Labor as a tax write-off. The Department of Labor passed the boat on to Job Corps, which is part of the department.

Tongue Point Job Corps operates the only seamanship training program in Job Corps. It operates two ships, two tugs, several smaller vessels and a barge.

The Ironwood, built in 1944, served at several locations throughout the country, including Alaska. The Ironwood was upgraded more frequently than Tongue Point's cargo ship the Betsy Ross, also built in 1944.

"We've been trying to get a buoy tender to replace the Betsy Ross for years," Seamanship instructor Pat Albers said.

The Coast Guard will certify the Ironwood as a training vessel, a process that could take a few weeks to a few months.

The Ironwood arrived at Tongue Point last month. Coos Bay-based Sause Brothers Ocean Towing transported the ship from Los Angeles to Tongue Point for free.

"If we would have had to pay for it, it would have been $40,000 to tow it up here," Albers said.

Students finishing the program are certified as deckhands or engine room workers. Enrollment is rolling in the program, which usually takes two years to complete. The seamanship program currently serves about 50 students at Tongue Point Job Corps Center.

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