CIVMAR Good In Bad Times

:slight_smile: Working as a CIVMAR for MSC sure feels nice and secure in these tough economic times. I don’t seem to be hearing as much of the usual MSC complaints on board my Vessel. Everyone is a little more appreciative of this outift. Looks like even we are slowing down with the hiring of new folks, have not saw that in a long time.

Federal jobs certainly have there benefits. Are you guys still getting a lot of port time? Are they paying for license upgrade classes?

Port time has been very good, ships stay back in the states for 3-4 months before heading overseas again. Spend most time at NavSta Norfolk, Craney Island, or up in NJ at NWS Earle. You can always count on a yard period either in Norolk or Charleston. The MSC tugs and salvage ships get much more time pierside than the UnRep ships.

Upgrade training benifits are great, everything is reimbursed upon completion. The A/B to 3/M program is great, lots of folks taking advantage of it. You can take your classes at any school also, MITAGS / PMI / Tidewater / Star Center. MSC really takes care of the CIVMARS when it comes to traning. There is a new program that just came out that is a full ride (housing, tuition, subsitance, [B]+ your base MSC pay[/B]) scholarship to any of the state maritime academies, I think they are going to accept something like 25 folks a year into the program. Lots of routes you can take to advance yourself. Guys out here 29 years old sailing as Chief Mate and 1st Engineer. MSC is going to have some young Captains in the next few years.

Of course the big complaint remains the same: not enough leave, too much of your year is spent on ships. If you live in Hampton Roads though it is not so bad, just like having a normal 8-5 job for several months.

king, is MSC still doing long tours and short vacations? like 6 and 2?

MSC requires you to stay a minimum of 4 months aboard, most folks stay longer though. Problem is that after staying for only 4 months you have not accumulated much leave, so if you get off then you end up having maybe 1 month of leave. Of course you can always extend your vacation with training or leave without pay. Once you check into the MSC “Pool” you may be there a long time waiting for a ship, so that is sort of like vacation also.

Thanks, when I was coming out of the academy, they were telling us 6 and 2, where most union and non-union jobs were talking 4 or less with equal vacation. Then we heard from our friends who had gotten stuck… in one case a 3/E was out 8 months, then “ASKED” to come back after a month off. Again, the old disclaimer from the infomercial applies “results non-typical, your results may vary.”

Probably the most painful vacation you’ll ever take!

All that time away from home is finally paying off. Yesssss!!!


Ive been with MSC for almost a year, im an unlicenced puke (OS, however going to AB school in may). Ive had a total blast working for MSC. it can be a pain in the ass with the security clearance req’s ( im working on paying off some old ass medical bills) but if you do as you should, as the OP stated, its a great secure place to be. I just got my EAST to WEST transfer today, so im pretty excited.

sailing for msc is great for training, the basically pay you and pay FOR your training. the only problem is if you have a family ( i do) you can expect problems if you dont have strong a husband/wife. im lucky that by the time ive been home a few weeks shes ready for me to go back to sea! lol.

any other MSC guys out there?!

the only problem is if you have a family ( i do) you can expect problems if you dont have strong a husband/wife. im lucky that by the time ive been home a few weeks shes ready for me to go back to sea! lol.


I know that you say this tongue in cheek but seriously, how can you stand to be apart this long? It’s one thing if you live in Norfolk or San Diego and are home while you’re working but if you don’t want to live in one of these places I just can’t see it. Many companies pay for training and some pay while you train also. I’m glad that you’re happy with them but I would sooner work as a night manager at Wendy’s before I’d take a job with MSC.

Yeah 4 months on 12 days off is great shoot I don’t know how people get the crazy idea that isn’t enough.

I’ve been very fortunate working for MSC for the last 8 years. Yes, when I started it was 6 month tours. A few months after I was hired on they changed that to four month tours. I’ve heard and seen the horror stories about not getting a relief for months and again, I’ve been fortunate enough to have always been relieved on time or early (even on a tug in the Persian Gulf…a big shock to me that someone actually wanted to relieve me out there). I was relieved late only once and that was because I volunteered to stay on the ship and conducted a lengthy turnover with my relief during a LANT crossing.

As previously pointed out, you really get to reap the benefits of MSC if you live in the San Diego or Norfolk area, and more so in Norfolk than San Diego. Since joining MSC I’ve made Virginia Beach my home so it has worked out well for me working for MSC to live a “normal life” when the ship is in port and operating stateside. Even when I get stationed on a ship up in New Jersey I take the weekends off and drive home Friday afternoons and drive back to the ship Sunday evenings. As a Chief Mate/Cargo Mate I don’t stand watches and work normal 8-5 hours with weekends off if I want. Pay is phenomenal and if I get on a good ship with two Chief Mates we work out vacation rotations if our operational schedule isn’t too demanding.

It sounds bad, but I’ve been assigned to my current ship for roughly 22 months now. I’ve taken a month leave every four months or so, and more often if I want it (a week or two here and there). It has been great working with guys who are willing to take up the slack for you when you need or want to leave the ship for training, reserve duty, or just regular leave to spend time with family and friends. I was even able to break up a 7 month deployment in the Persian Gulf and fly back stateside to sit for my Chief Mate exam. Took some personal time before and after my exam and flew back and was bumped up to a Chief Mate position.

As with any job there are benefits and drawbacks working with MSC. Quality of life with MSC is what you make of it. Having e-mail, phone, and internet at sea makes it easier keeping in touch with family and friends I’m separated from. A lot of people much prefer sailing commercially, but MSC is better suited for me. I’ve always tried to schedule my time off during the winter holidays and summer.

Yes, the current state of our economy puts secure government jobs into perspective.

Hello All,

I am not new to this site but I just came across this thread. I am looking to get into MSC I am prior navy I have a TWIC and Passport, a Zcard endorsed with Oiler which may be the problem. I probally need to get some more qmed endorsements. I also have an active security clearance with my current employer as I am DOD employee now. I really want to go to MSC though. Any advice.

I called and talked to a recruiter from MSC and they told me I needed 6 months experience on a boat before they would consider hiring me for an OS Deckhand position… I was a bit disappointed with the girl I spoke with briefly as she didn’t really seem to have time to answer my questions so I cut it short on the phone.

I read somewhere on the net were MSC do take Entry level applicants with no prior experience as long as you had all the proper credentials MMD, Z-Card and so on. i live in Virginia Beach and there office is only a few miles from my house.
My Z-Card should be here in a few weeks also. I have sent tons of resumes off to companies in hopes of landing a OS Deckhand job but still no luck.

Now is a bad time to try to get hired with MSC as an OS. It is true that they don’t require prior sea time but since they really don’t need OS’s and many other positions right now they will hire only exceptional applicants.

The reason for it is threefold. 1. They overhired/over promoted in the last year to an astounding level. 2. New ships are not coming online as fast as expected so they do not need to have a bigger pool of emplyees. 3. The US Navy and MSC are really worried about their budgets. Ships getting underway more often costs more money so they are staying in port more and a few ships are being layed up.
I wouldn’t predict this changing too much over the next year or so but keep an eye on the website because if they list the job, they are looking for people in that area. QMED is traditionally a position they are generally hiring.

What ships are they laying up?

I forget which ship’s they are laying up but for the most part the T-AKE are replacing them. I’m on my 2nd west coast T-AKE and NASSCO is really cranking these things out and they’re getting faster at building them. #9 will be in the water in the summer and 10 is coming together.

They are going to have to do something about the T-AO sooner or later since the T-AKEs can’t hold much fuel. I thought I saw some bugdet proposal for a new T-AOX for 2010 but I haven’t seen any designs.

In the past year or so I believe two AFS ships, an AE, and an AO (supply ship, ammunition ship, and oiler/tanker). They definitely need to start looking at a replacement for the Kaiser-class oilers. Only a handful are double-hull and as previously mentioned, the new AKE’s barely hold enough fuel for a few small frigate and destroyer sips.The AOE’s are nice, but very expensive to operate and only two per coast. They are their own best customer when it comes to fuel. There are some other issues, but not public knowledge so I won’t go into it on a public forum.

bad OPSEC!

Nothing has changed with MSC since I was with them, I guess. I sailed aboard the Spica for two years and two AO’s. All the captains I was sailing with were less then impressed with the AKE design, mainly because they did not carry enough fuel. The captains also agreed that the Navy needed to start designing a new oiler, for many of the reasons stated above and because they were designed in the early 80’s and were starting to get a little long in the tooth…Seems to me, the best thing MSC or the Navy could do is update the Oilers, refine some of the problems they have had update the machinery and automation and build version 3.0. Of course this would cut way into Northrup Grumman’s profits, so it won’t happen. The US tax payer will probably have a “stealth” oiler jammed down their throats against the needs and desires of the Navy.

The ships that were laid up were old, both the Spica and Sirius, were 40+ years old. That said when I was last aboard the Spica she was still in good shape, she really is a testament to the old ways of building ships.

Do you guys know if Captain Horner is still sailing with MSC?