AB Unlimited just starting out


Hello. I currently have a master 100 ton near coastal and am taking courses in AB, STCW (BST) and LB. These are courses offered by Maine Maritime Academy and I’ll complete them by mid April. My sea service time for Unlimited comes from over four years of sea service in the CG. I am looking towards local tug companies or coastal bulk or tanker services. I have been told that for coastal routes, STCW isn’t necessary but most actual job postings list it as a requirement so I am taking it anyway. I am also willing to take RFPNW as needed but I understand I should only take that if offered employment where I can use it as it isn’t renewable. I also have my TWIC and a current passport. Due to the economy, I am making this mid-life adjustment and would prefer to stay in or near Maine where I live with my family. My wife and I have discussed and agreed that if the right opportunity comes up, I would travel and leave the family in Maine while I do what needs to be done.

A strong part of my interest lies in the opportunities for advancement. I see outfits like MSC advertising their efforts to promote from within but I see alot of talk on this and other forums about how difficult it is to be a hawsepiper. BTW, I know MSC doesn’t fit with what I just described above but it is one of those career moves that would be considered.

I guess the long and short here is there seem to be many different ways to go and I am not sure I am doing the right thing here. My thoughts are to go as;

AB tugs and work towards master of towing

AB bulk/tanker and work towards 3rd? or MAster 1600? Not sure

AB to eventual pilot? Not sure here either what is required.

Any advise is sincerely appreicated. Thanks


Staying where you are is not such an issue as most Tug Companies with a union contract are obligated to fly you to the closest airport near your home. It is probably cheaper for a tow boat company to fly a person from a large airport in Maine to Florida than a person from a small town in Louisiana or Alabama so to think that they would prefer someone who lives closer to the job because of the cost of transport, if that were an issue, would give you a preference. Before you join a union call them an ask what they have available. Good luck.


Thanks JSPICC. Unions. Man, there’s another whole set of questions. How are the unions generally perceived inthe industry? Is it a good idea to become a member before getting a job? Do most companies contract with them? I don’t have any experience with unions in my previous life so am not sure of the usual requirements or customs.


Focsle - Congratulations for taking the plunge, albeit a difficult decision I’m sure.

I see that you’re in Maine, and maybe even in the fishing industry transitioning to the commercial world with the hopes of keeping the family fed, and the house note paid? If that’s the case, a tough decision, but, since I live here, I know it to be a necessary one.

In either case, here are my humble thoughts: As you work at completing your classes at MMA, reach out to some of the commercial guys that live in your community, and let them give you the lay of the land. An insider’s view is always going to be a bit more enlightening, and in tandem with this forum, you should have a pretty good education before you embark on your new career.

Unions: A consideration, but for the moment, I would say just that. I’m a book member of one of them, but haven’t sailed union in years. There are enough non-union opportunities out there at the moment, that I feel that initiation into one of the unions would be counter-productive for you for the time being, but keep it in the back of your mind.

Employment: Start looking now, and starting putting your name out there in front of the HR people with companies that YOU would like to consider. Most companies work a regular schedule, so you’ll be home every few weeks if you’d like to be. I say like to be, because the possibilities of picking up extra work if you need to catch up on bills IS out there. A few companies in Maine that are in the towing business would be Winslow, and Hartley Marine. If you’re up for traveling south, the horizon broadens considerably. If you’d like to narrow down your “dream job” a bit for us, we’ll try to fill in the blanks for you a bit more.

Get your hands on some of the industry publications such as Marine Log, Professional Mariner, WorkBoat, and Maritime Reporter. All of these magazines have a wealth of information in them as it relates to the industry as a whole. As well, all of them offer classified sections with employment listings. Another great resource is the jobs board here, which can be found under the “Tools” section on the forum header. Finally, take some time to read the pages here as they are bursting with information. Others in a similar situation have preceded you, and there is a wealth of thoughts out there to be considered. If there is anything we can do to answer questions for you, fire away.

By the way…Welcome aboard!!!


EL Capitan, thanks! Are you in Maine yourself?

I thought the union situation would be as you said and I will consider it as needed. MMA is a great place and I will continue to network while I am there…just doing short Continuing Ed courses.

As for employment, I do not have the AB yet until I can send in my certificates of completion to the CG so I figured I should hold off knocking on doors until the CG hands me my MMD. I figured I would be wasting everybody’s time if I showed up looking for work without it. Any further thoughts on that approach? I am happy to travel as needed, but think I’ll start local and work outward. You mentioned Winslow and Hartley and I have seen McAllister is out of Portland and Reinaurer out of Boston. Both seem like good companies with good job opportunities as well.

I do get all the pubs you mentioned and have selectively registered with some sites such as this one and Master of Towing Vessels forum that both seem incredibly helpful. Any thoughts on MSC or other companies that really want to promote up the hawsepipe?

Thanks again. This is just the type of mentoring I really need!