Confused New Guy Could Use Some Help

Hello All,

I am looking to jump into the industry. I spent four years in the Navy and walked away with NO sea time (visited the desert though). I am currently an over-the-road flatbed driver working for a Wisconsin based company but I live in Florida.

I already have my TWIC and will be knocking out my Cert of Fitness and drug screen when I get home so I can make the drive down to Miami and apply for my MMD. Then I am going to take my Basic Safety Training at MPT in Fort Lauderdale, hoping it qualifies to use my GI Bill.

Is this all I need to get started? I am pretty baffled by all the different licenses and qualifications, but I am pretty sure I have sorted it out. I just want to be sure I am on the right track.

I am considering SIU as well, but I have no desire to do their apprenticeship program. My interest is in a deep water job in the deck department and working my way up to the bridge, but I’ll take most anything to get started. I am not looking for easy money, I’ve spent most of the winter in single digit and subzero temps throwing straps and tarps. I like to get down and dirty and work hard. I’m hoping I am looking at the right industry.

Thanks in advance for the help!


Im not trying to bust on you but this question must of have been answered 100 times on this forum! Did you look at other posts? Why don’t the Mods come up with standard thread listing how to get started in the industry? Good luck! Just Stay the course.

Yes, I have been reading through them. But… I am still a bit confused. Every time I think I get it figured out, it seems there is another twist. I just want to make sure I have an understanding of the basic requirements.

DocV - Yes it does appear that you are on track. TWIC most definately. Apply for MMD. BST - That is the best bet. MPT is my school of choice in the SouthEast, can’t go wrong with them, pricey though. My opinion is to get on with a company and get the AB Unlimited BEFORE trying to get into the union. Good luck!


Perfect. I do appreciate the response. Quality Maritime in St. Pete is significantly closer and accepts the GI Bill, but MPT is going to be my first choice if I can manage.

How is the industry looking down there? I know trucking has taken a nosedive, I suspect it similar for Maritime. Are there any specific companies in the Tampa area you’d recommend checking out? Or anywhere in Florida for that matter. I’ll work just about anything I can to get my experience.

Thanks again.


DocV - Here are some links to check out:

United Ocean Services
Weeks Marine - Dredging

Just a small start for a job search. But United, I think is in Tampa (Was TECO). And Weeks may pay for travel to the job site.


[quote=Dr. Venture;8619]Perfect. I do appreciate the response. Quality Maritime in St. Pete is significantly closer and accepts the GI Bill, but MPT is going to be my first choice if I can manage.

How is the industry looking down there? I know trucking has taken a nosedive, I suspect it similar for Maritime. Are there any specific companies in the Tampa area you’d recommend checking out? Or anywhere in Florida for that matter. I’ll work just about anything I can to get my experience.

Thanks again.


To go the deepsea route as you want, you’ll have to start as an ordinary seaman and work your way up what is a pretty long climb to get to the bridge. One year of seatime to get A/B then three years to get to 3rd mate. For the big ships your options are few except for the SIU which has the vast majority of the deepsea vessel manning contracts. I do not know if by being ex Navy, if there is any preference for you to get on at MSC? I’d check on that option first.

Do you have any special training from your Navy time? That could help get on with a ship contracted to MSC since most of those jobs required that the civilian mariners receive training in small arms, etc… before they can ship out. I’d check out Edison Chouest since they have several vessels on contract to the Navy and are non union. I don’t know if they hire OS’s though? Maybe some else here can answer that?

Lastly, there is the small vessel route which is easier to get started in and faster to progress upward but the downside is that you do not qualify for an unlimited tonnage license in the end so in essence get stuck on workboats but there is much more workboat work than deepsea and there always will be. The problem there is that in the down economy with oil prices being way too low, the maritime industry is in a recession as well and I am sure your reading the posts here, you see that there are many others like you looking for where they can get a job on a boat.

Of course, if there were fewer foreigners working in the Gulf of Mexico taking US jobs, then you’d have your chance. You might consider writing a few letters to Congress and the USCG. See my thread about that subject for details.

Best of luck to you…

I’m an ex flatbed guy too…I have been trying to break into this business as well…Like the other hands said, MMD,BST,TWIC…

I have found some companies that can relate to the work we do in trucking …Securement ,proper log keeping and the use of the Federal Code of regulations…Different codes but written by the same lawyers…lol…good luck

Thank you, everybody, for the advice. I am really excited about this prospect and look forward to get it underway. You’re all wealth of information and I can only hope I have as much to offer newbies someday.

Shell, how long have you been trying to get into the Industry?

Dr. Venture, a willingness to spend more for quality STCW Basic Safety Training (BST), particularly the water survival and firefighting modules, is money well spent. You’re only likely to go to it once so you want the best you can get. When STCW’95 standards were adopted the original idea was that everyone would have to go again every 5 years for a refresher. This turned out to be unpopular for several not-so-good reasons so they wound up “compromising” by saying that as long as you were working for a company that had an “ongoing training” program then refreshers would be unnecessary. These ongoing training programs are generally BS, so that means that if you only go to the formal training once (which is the norm these days) and it turns out to be sub-par then that’s all you’ll ever get and too bad for you. You owe yourself better than that, so consider it an investment in yourself. Good luck…

DR.V …I didn’t get really serious until the first of Jan…
My case is a little different though…I have had a back surgery 10 years ago…When this came out at the pre employment physical, the company Dr.s immediately wanted to put lifting restrictions on me…This made me unemployable with these companies…I could pass the DOT just fine but the companies have their own requirements as well…In my case the requirements were to be able to lift 100 lbs repetitively …The Dr’s said they would only sign off on 50 lbs…

It’s a measure designed to protect the employer from inheriting a pre-existing condition…I can’t say as I blame them but I have no problems or limitations…

Other wise I would have been working the second week in Jan…I had a total of 2 offers …Otto Candies and Laborde Marine …Edison Chouest was trying to find me a place as well but I was upfront with Nicky, at Chouest, about this prior surgery and that ended that…

If you can make yourself stand out from the crowd, I think there is a lot of opportunity there…I had several people comment on the the similarities of trucking,especially flatbedding and heavy haul…I found that it was a plus…Not with all but most…

I have got a lot of research on various companies , if you would like to have any of it feel free to PM me or even e mail is

Better be quick though because I think I’m going to have to go trucking soon…lol…

I would suggest spending cash where it will count. One Basic Safety Training course, while useful if you really don’t know how to don a life jacket, is just like the next. Same with the Fire fighting - while some are better than others I don’t think any that I’ve seen lack in any serious way.

Other courses are just designed to be BS. GMDSS for 10 days?? a break please… you could learn to build the whole console in 1 days.

But do spend money on your license training. The navigation stuff, the deck stuff, spend the money on somewhere like MPT (I would argue the best in the business, at least in the south).

Unlike a lot of hawsepipers I think the new training standards are a good thing. Something about the captain SHOULD understand navigation without a block chart just sounds right.

And, a great secret are these schools in south Louisiana. Young Memorial (LTC) is by far the cheapest way to breeze through a lot of these classes, and they do reasonable work on top of that. LAMPI is even better, though they got promoted to Junior College status so they cost a smidge more now. The only warning I would give is against Houston Marine Training Services. They aren’t interested in you learning anything; it’s a waste of time and cash. The only people I have met who didn’t pass the Coast Guard exams ALL went through Houston Marine Training Services. Just say no.

Good luck with it. Some of the training is a lot of fun.


I would have to agree with fourdegree about Houston. Actually, I just had that discussion with a gentleman in our company office yesterday about that school. Houston, [U]maybe[/U] at one time was a good school. But, I feel they just teach you how to pass the test and not the content of the class. I have only taken 1 class there. And was not impressed at all. I have not taken any classes at LAMPI. But, have taken a couple classes at Young Memorial. That is not a bad school. I walked away with a feeling that I actually learned something. As far a MPT being the best in the SouthEast (south of NC/SC state line), I don’t know of any other school that offers all the STCW classes you need to upgrade to a non-trade restricted 1600 mate license. Just some thoughts for today.

None of the classes from any school are “trade-restricted” or “non trade-restricted.” The courses are all generic I’m pretty sure and the trade restriction comes from sea-time and which classes are required, that is, for trade restricted licenses you don’t need quite as many courses? I think that’s how it works, but the actual exams may be different between them.

There are lots of other good schools in S FL too, I don’t mean to say MPT is the only good school by any means. Star in Lauderdale and the guys in St Pete are also great.

Houston Marine Training survives now on government graft - the state implemented an “Incumbent Worker Training” grant that is given to companies for many of the required training we go through. The grant is to encourage companies to promote from within and advance their employees through the ranks. I have to say it’s pretty successful at it too. But Houston Marine has taken the “good enough for the coast guard” attitude that doesn’t reflect well in their students’ end performance at sea.

I always encourage hands to get every level license they can as they become eligible. When you can get your 100T Master, get it, but take the exam at the coast guard. 200T, do it, but take the exam. It’s great practice to work your way up. Anxiety of the exam is half the battle really.

Good luck!


I believe by “non trade restricted” he’s referring to the full battery of OICNW courses (See NMC Policy Letter 1-02, ). I don’t think there’s any one school in the Gulf that has all of them, or that you can even get a few of them anywhere in the south apart from Florida.

Ah ok. Are there a lot of candidates that take OICNW courses? I thought most folks do onboard assessments to satisfy that requirement. I’m glad I’m done with all this! :slight_smile:

It’s great to see the NMC folks on here. Kudos to the Coasties!

Fair winds.