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From Deckhand to Captain: Trevor Brown's Journey


Seven years ago, Trevor Brown was new to the marine industry and 'as green as they come.' Today, he's a Captain with Harbour Development, a dredging and marine construction company based in Saint John. Trevor has his 500 Gross Tonnage Domestic Certificate and is the respected leader of a great crew.  

He has a fantastic story and has worked hard over the years to balance work, family and his studies. We wanted to celebrate his success and send a message to mariners starting out: there are opportunities in our local marine industries. 

 Trevor Brown


Read on to hear Trevor's story in his own words!

Q. What drew you to becoming a mariner? 

I was drawn to becoming a mariner at a young age; I have always been around the water. My grandfather owned a marina in Saint John, so I was brought up around boats and the marine industry from when I was first born.

Q. How did you become involved with Harbour Development? 

I joined Harbour Development in October of 2012. It just so happened that my girlfriend's father worked [there] at the time as a winch man on the dredge. He knew that I was interested in getting into this kind of work, so he mentioned my name a few times whenever there was an available opportunity. One day, a position as deckhand aboard the Swellmaster [a Harbour Development tugboat] became available and I was hired to start my first shift that same night.

Q. Can you describe your career progression from deckhand to captain?

I had taken a very basic MED course from NBCC in case a job did come up. When I was hired, I worked on the deck of the tug for the first 2 years trying to learn the ropes from the older guys who taught me a lot of what I know today. As the years went on, I noticed that the captains in the company were getting older and there was really no one else waiting in the wings to fill in their spots.

 A former colleague laid out what courses I would need and what I would have to do to acquire a 150 Gross Tonnage Domestic Certificate, which is the ticket I would need to operate Harbour Development's small tug, the Atlantic Tamarack. Armed with that info, I started researching. Before I knew it, I was enrolled into the Holland College Marine Training Center in Summerside PEI. Over the next 3 years, I would attend the school when work slowed down in Saint John. I obtained the 150 GT certificate in July of 2015 and shortly thereafter I was given my own shift aboard the tug and started operating full time. After getting the ticket, I immediately started working on the courses needed to write my exams for the 500 GT Domestic, which I successfully completed in September of this year.

Q. What were some of the challenges and victories you faced along the way? 

When I first started in this industry, I was as "green" as they come - as far as working on a tugboat and being in an industrial setting. There were parts of the job that came very easy to me and other parts that I struggled with. That said, a lot of the guys around the company took me under their wing and were more than happy to show me how certain things are done in a safe and efficient manner and for that I am grateful.

Another challenge was being away from home for extended periods of time while being in school.  I had a brand-new baby, as well as a new house that we had purchased shortly after I got my 150 GT ticket. Luckily for me, my family and my lovely girlfriend Nicole were more then supportive of what I wanted to accomplish and for that I thank them very much. Of course, the victories would be being a well-liked and well-respected employee within the company, and being able to successfully complete my certificates to ultimately become the captain of the tug.

Q. What do you enjoy most about the work you do now? 

It's being able to be show up everyday and ensure everything runs smoothly and as safely with the dredging and towing scows, and working alongside a great crew. When everything is operating smoothly, everybody is happy and in good spirits; that is what I aim for, and that is what I enjoy most about the work I do now.

Q. What would you like the general public to know most about being a mariner? 

This is a career filled with challenges both on and off the vessel, and it isn't for everyone. However, it is a total 180 from a typical nine to five, Monday to Friday career. And for myself, that works out just fine. 

To be a professional mariner you need to have a good since of camaraderie and teamwork with your crew. You take great pride in your work and be the best you can be when completing any job or task  aboard the vessel. There is time for relaxing and taking it easy while aboard, but when something needs to be done, everybody has to work as a team to accomplish the task.

Q.  What advice would you give to someone just starting their career with Harbour Development? 

This is a great place to learn the ropes of the marine industry. There are a lot of good people around willing to give their time to help you succeed. If you come here with a good attitude, a desire to learn a thing or two, and a drive to work hard, this company will have your back 100%.

Q. Is there anything else you would like readers to know? 

Once again, just that I am grateful for the people who have helped and supported me from day one. They have been invaluable to my success.

At the time of writing, Harbour Development had openings for deckhands and captain's in its fleet. To view all openings and apply, visit

Harbour Development is a large Eastern Canadian Marine Construction and Dredging company based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia with over 60 years of experience delivering professional dredging and marine construction services to various private and public marine stakeholders.