Coast Guard Veteran to Maritime Academy

I’ve read few posts so far on this matter but they are dated. Since I will be attending an Academy in the next couple weeks, I decided that perhaps I should start this post to fill in any doubts or questions for those who are leaving or thinking about leaving Active Duty to go to a Merchant Marine Academy. A lot of things change in a matter of days never mind years so be respectful on replies or opinions because I would like this post to remain so I can update as I go. Again, this is just my experience. Nothing more nothing less.

Since you’re here I will assume that you love the sea and want to further yourself into the Maritime Industry beyond Military service. This is something I admire and respect and wish you the best on your endeavor and I thank anybody who takes the time on this post.

  1. Yes, as a Veteran you will still have to attend “Orientation” for two weeks which will require memorization of items, push ups, sit ups, running, and getting yelled at. For some this is a big deal since you “did your time” and some may have even been DI, DS, or CC. I was told by a staff in the regiment that “due to my military training I will not be required to go through orientation 24/7 and will not have to stay in the dorms for two weeks but I will be required to attend 2 weeks to fulfill STCW’s”. Quite the contradiction that I still have not received clarity on. I will elaborate more once I graduate about what else is to be expected.
  2. Your JST, PDR, Marks, TA, STCW’s and Sea time will not be credited. This is something that is an issue especially for Coasties because the Branch that signs off on your licenses at the Academy is the branch that you did your time in. In essence, they’re not crediting your training they gave you.
  3. Accreditation (again), if you are going to the Academy as a licensed major (Transportation or Engineering) you will be required to go on 4 sea terms to fulfill sea time for your license. It does not matter if you have enough sea time to be a Cutterman or a Gold Ancient Mariner. This does hamper some because President Trump signed Executive Order Military to Mariner which is supposed to make it easier for Veterans pursuing the Merchant Mariner due to their training and time. It seems that this only applies to those who are going though the Hawsepipe.
  4. MHA is exactly what rent is around the area so do not expect to be getting your pockets full.
  5. GI Bill will only cover so much. If you are not health insured, plan to be to attend the Academy. Expect your first bill to be almost double than what your GI bill covers.
  6. Regimental Commuter is something you can apply for and have to apply every semester which allows students to live off campus and not be in a regiment 24/7. I will follow up after I experience it.
  7. Veteran services. Not really much of one. It seems like the School just makes things up as they go in this dept. I was told different things by different people regarding credits, training , outreach. I would like there to be a policy or an outreach for vets attending or wanting to attend the school to see what proper steps they have to take to be better accommodated.
  8. I chose to attend this Academy due to its close proximity to my HOR and with the best intention that it generates the best opportunities to get into the Maritime Industry with an open door. Also, the Return on Investment is incredibly high after first couple years. I believe that going this route sets you up better once you graduate knowing that you will have minimum debt, tremendous experience, and a better understanding of the Industry. Could be wrong though, :laughing:

I am sure more will come to me and I will update as I go. If you have any questions I will try my best to answer them.

With Gratitude,

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While I can’t make any comments regarding your academy experiences thus far, or what may come in the future, I can certainly compliment you on your first post. Informative, interesting, and well-written.

As a veteran of 28 years in ‘the other sea service’ and as a ‘mustang’, I will thank you for your USCG service and wish you every success in your chosen maritime future.

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Prior sea time doesn’t count for anything because an academy graduate doesn’t present sea time to the USCG, all you present is the fact that you completed that academy’s approved program.

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It does apply only to those qualifying via the hawsepipe. Academy programs qualify for their credentials under STCW Regulation II/1 and 46 CFR 11.309(a)(1)(ii) which require completing 12 months of approved seagoing service AS PART OF AN APPROVED PROGRAM. Obviously what you did before entering the program cannot be part of the program. This is also why one or more of the training ship cruises or commercial cadet shipping placements cannot be waived based on military service before entering the program.

However, if you have at least 3 years of service (after discounting under 46 CFR 10.232(d)), you can use the training and assessment at the academy to qualify via the hawsepipe. If you have less than 3 years, you cannot mix prior service with academy time.

In response to the EO, and several National Defense Authorization Acts before and after the EO, the various services have submitted their training programs for Coast Guard approval and a lot of military training is now approved to meet credentialing requirements.

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Bitterend - first off - you are making a great choice. I also got out of the Coast Guard and went to SUNY Maritime - albeit it was 35 years ago ! It is likely little of my experience at school is the same as you will find, but I do think the major reasons to attend are still as valid now, as then,

Quickly - my experience as school as a veteran, was very different than the regular students. I lived on campus the first 2 years, and went through IDO week. But for a few reasons it was not like the regular students. All those in charge of the regiment, both the students and the administration turned a relatively blind eye to the veterans, as long as we didn’t flaunt it, kept a low profile, and looked the part. After 4 years in the service - this was rather easy. No matter what the changes are, I am sure that you will find life in the regiment at school no issue at all, after being in the service.

As far as sea time, when I got out, the coast guard would count actual days at sea, on the largest cutters - 1 for 1 as AB time. I spent my years on 378’s and a polar ice breaker, as a Quartermaster. I volunteered for TAD at sea assignments when my ship was in M&R status, or off patrol. When I got out I had amassed enough time, along with sea credits from school to sit for an original 2nd mate license.

On my last ship, a few junior officers convinced me to apply to a couple of schools, and I owe them a debt of gratitude to this day - and here is why. And why your choice is so wise. There are a few things you get at school - you cant get via the hawsepipe.

The first is options. Although a few will sail for many years, most will not. Graduates of the maritime colleges go on to many different careers in the maritime industry, and in the main have great success.

A network - Being at the school you will form a tight network with your classmates, also with other alumni and also with alumni of other like schools. The maritime industry is not that large, and these connections of similar experiences are valuable ties that unite us.

Access to further education. Many of us have gone on to get graduate degrees, some in very different fields. If you find after some time - this is not the industry you want to be in, changing careers with your BS is easier than without it.

I know your focus is on what the next 4 years will be like, what I can assure you, as an old guy, they will go faster than you think. Have no concern about life in the regiment - no matter what they ask of you - it will be short lived and easier than you think. Concentrate on your classes and being a good classmate, try to use your experience to help your classmates. These are relationships you will have for the rest of your life. Concentrate on developing your leadership skills, on becoming an officer. Sometimes this is harder for those of us who were enlisted.

You have made a great choice, don’t sweat the small stuff, keep your eye on the prize, and get ready for a bright future.

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…or you could go to GLMA and learn the trade without all the quasi military stuff. Just learn how to pilot or fix/maintain things.

:wink: