Advice for Switching Companies (Master of Towing)

I’m new to gCaptian, this seems like a great place to get advice from seasoned mariners.

I’m 27 years old completing a 500-ton upgrade in August. My previous employer has offered to pay for my upgrade if I sign a contract.

My question is whether it’s worth it to go back with my old company or to look for another job?

My predicament is that my previous employer only has tugs under 100-tons. In order to upgrade my license to 1600-ton, I need to be onboard vessels over 100-ton. Also, right now they don’t have much work and there’s a good chance they’ll put me in the yard to manage the maintenance on the vessels. (I also act as unlicensed engineer among the small fleet.)

Most of my experience is with small tugs moving around crane and A-frame barges. I still need more experience, but my comfort level has improved quite a bit. Commercially, I’ve only worked for this one company and don’t know what it takes to move on to larger companies. Ideally, I’d like to get on-board as Mate on a large tug or OSV.

If you have any advice for a young motivated mariner looking to continue up the hawspipe, please give me your opinion. My main objective right now is to continue to gain experience and tonnage.

Out of respect, please don’t try and guess my previous employer. I’d like to keep this anonymous.

Below is general description of my experience (I’m curious to know what you think I should negotiate for a salary)

-Experience on the whole East coast from Canada to Texas including parts of the Caribbean
-Comfortable setting up barges on four-point anchor spreads
-Maneuvering barges up to 160 ft in tight positions with no visibility
-Emergency response to fuel spills and collisions
-Dive and crane ops
-Experience in New York harbor (Spent 4 Summers running a 122ft dinner boat around the harbor)
-I also have an MBA in International Business and BBA in Marketing
-Independently traveled over 30 countries and circumnavigated the globe as a passenger in 2002

Thanks for your input!

Longcap- You need to think about where you want to be 10 years from now and if the company you are currently with can get you there. I was in a similar situation working for a small family owned crew boat company in 1997 that only had 100 ton vessels, but I knew I wanted more than the company could possibly offer. I ended up at Chouest and was able to get all the way to 2nd Mate AGT. I could have achieved my Master Mariner license there, but I wanted to work an even time rotation, eventually. Even time rotations can be arranged at Chouest, but then the income level is reduced. So in order to hopefully make more and work less I moved on to drilling rigs. The position I took is a Dynamic Positioning Operator/Ballast Control Operator. Not really the position I want to be in for very long, but necessary for me to get up to speed and learn how business is conducted on a drilling vessel.

So with that in mind considering a company is more than just initial pay. You will find that after getting the 500 ton license you won’t have any experience sailing on that license. You may have to get on with a company that has 100 ton vessels along with larger vessels so you can get your foot in the door on a smaller boat that you have experience with. Then be in a good position with the license to move up when the opportunity arises. Then again someone may just hire you and throw you to the wolves. It is sometimes about being in the right place at the right time. With a 500 ton license expect pay to range from 400 to 650 per day depending on the company and industry. To answer your question straight, I would say it is definitely worth looking for another job. Just don’t leave unless you have something good lined up. I understand that things are a little tough and some companies are not aggresively recruiting. If I had known that the economy was about to take a shit, I do not think I would have had the balls to quit and start over. Being the new kid on the block in an economic downturn is not a great feeling, but I do not regret the move now that it is done.

Longcap, Welcome to gCaptain. I concur with Captain Lee.
Try Vane Bros in Baltimore 410-735-8212 and ask for Tom Lamm. They have new build tugs with red flag barges and have been selectively hiring. click here to see their fleet.
Best regards