Captain Stephen Polk, MNI
Director, Maritime Education & Training
Captain Stephen Polk supervises SCI’s Center for Maritime Education. Before joining SCI, he was a Senior Port Captain for Kirby Inland Marine, LP and managed several types of inland towing vessels in the Canal Division. Captain Polk is a certified Crew Endurance Management System (CEMS) expert and holds a United States Coast Guard 3rd Mate Unlimited Tonnage, Oceans License. He also recently earned his Master of Towing Vessel and 300 ton Master-Oceans endorsement on his license.
A veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Captain Polk served in the US Navy with two patrol boat units. As a Lieutenant Commander (LCDR), he has worked in various leadership and supervisory roles such as Tactical Communications Officer, Training Department Head, and Operations Department Head for both of the patrol boat units he was assigned to. Captain Polk has also logged over 10,000 hours of tactical and underway command experience while protecting ports and performing escorts of MSC and Navy warships in and out of various harbors worldwide.
Captain Polk started in the maritime industry as an Able-Seaman (A.B.) for Polar Tankers and as a Third Mate and working in the TAPS trade moving crude oil from Valdez, AK to various ports along the west coast of the United States. He graduated from Texas A&M University at Galveston in 1997 with a B.S. in Marine Transportation.
Captain Buddy Compton
Director of Inland Training–Paducah
As Director of Inland Training - Paducah, Captain Buddy Compton develops and teaches Advanced Pilothouse Management Training classes, as well as other courses at the Seamen’s Church Institute’s Center for Maritime Education in Paducah, KY.
Captain Compton has worked in operations management for Ingram Barge Co. and Excell Marine Corp. He has served on several river industry navigation committees, including River Industry Action Committee, Lower Mississippi River Committee, and Illinois River Carrier’s Association. Over the years, Compton has received five United States Coast Guard Commendations, a United States Army Corps of Engineers Public Service Commendation and the Vice President Al Gore Hammer Award. He also coauthored the Upper Mississippi River Crisis Action Plan.
Captain David E. Dewey
Captain David E. Dewey brings more than 40 years of experience to his role as instructor at SCI–Paducah. He began working as a deckhand during high school and college, working his way up to pilot and captain. His career has included positions with Port City Barge Line, Magnolia Marine Transport, Sun Transportation, Union Mechling/Dravo Mechling Corporation and Hermann Sand & Gravel. From 1986 to 2010, Captain Dewey served as president of Western Kentucky Navigation and later became a partner in River Marine Enterprises.
Captain Dewey has served the inland marine transportation industry on numerous committees, including the River Industry Action Committee, the American Waterways Operators and the Ohio River Ice Committee, for which he acted as chairman. His professional qualifications include the eighth issue of his license as Master of Towing Vessels upon the Inland Waters and Western Rivers, as well as US Coast Guard Designated Examiner credentials. He has received multiple awards, including three US Coast Guard Public Service Commendations, five US Coast Guard Certificates of Merit and two US Army Corps of Engineers Certificates of Appreciation for Patriotic Civilian Service.
Captain David T. Howell
Having worked on the waters for three decades, and the majority of that time as a captain, David Howell brings wide-ranging experience and knowledge to his position as Simulator Instructor at SCI–Houston. A lead or senior captain for most of his career, Captain Howell also spent several years at John E. Graham & Sons, Mag Marine Service, Brown Water Marine, Bud’s Boat Rentals and North Bank Towing training and mentoring younger mariners. He most recently worked as Lead Captain at Buffalo Marine Service, where his leadership impacted the budding careers of many towboat crews.
With training in first aid, water survival and hazmat, Captain Howell holds a number of licenses and certifications, including US Coast Guard Master 200 Ton Near Coastal, US Coast Guard Master of Towing Vessels, Western Rivers and Inland Waters, and Unlimited Radar. He is a US Coast Guard Designated Examiner.
Captain Ernest “Ray” Sexton
A longtime US Coast Guard veteran and inland waterways pilot, Captain Ernest “Ray” Sexton joined SCI–Paducah as an instructor in January 2015. He brings four decades of experience in coastal and inland waterways navigation, search and rescue, law enforcement and port security to his teaching role.
Captain Sexton spent thirty years in the US Coast Guard with postings from Hawaii and Alaska to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Texas and Tennessee. His duties ranged from buoy tending to search and rescue—a responsibility that resulted in dozens of lives saved over the years. Following 9/11, Captain Sexton helped secure the ports of Savannah and Charleston, South Carolina. He has received several awards for his service, include the Coast Guard Commendation Medal with three gold stars, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal with gold star and the Commandant’s Letter of Commendation Ribbon with gold star.
Upon his retirement from the Coast Guard, Captain Sexton joined American Commercial lines as a relief captain and worked for Parker Towing Company before joining SCI. His licenses include Master of Towing Vessels and Master of Steam or Motor Vessels up to 200 tons domestic or 500 tons (ITC) upon Inland Waters and Western Rivers.