Days at Sea working for MSC

How many days Sea Credit for promotion can MSC workers (licensed and unlicensed) expect to get a year?

A lot.


most mariners would count on 170-190 days a year ( +/- 6 months a year) so at MSC i would ball park that number to be closer to 200+.
MSC is notorious for long hitches

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I would count on more. 4 month hitches which turn out to be closer to 5 means about 270 days of seatime per year.

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The USCG gives Navy sailors 200 days automatically but, will give more if you get a letter showing the log says more time was spent underway.

Sounds about right. When I was there it was minimum 4 months on, maximum 1 month off before they started calling you back. I struggled to work less than 270-300 days per year.


No matter how common this is and how many times I have heard it in the last 20 years I am always surprised that they pull that “come back after one month off after you just did half a year.” It never fails to make me slap my forehead.

And their recruiter at a SUNY job fair whined about retention issues and said he had no idea why they were having them. Sweeeeeet Jesus…


I recently worked 8 months and upon paying off the ship, was only granted 30 days of leave. Needless to say, I became ill on day 31 and remained on the pay roll for another 2 months. This is what the unions have encouraged us to do. To answer the question the sea time is day for day, you can stay as long as you want. You can get 365 days of sea time a year if you want. I average 275 to 300 days a year.

Guess I know now why so many people say join to build up your sea-time fast and upgrade your ticket and the move on.

Couple of more specific things:

  1. Is sea-time more like in the Navy? How much time do you in port? Obviously it varies with class of ship.

  2. If you make more than $200,000 how long do you get paid the overage?

Dzikijohn !!! I never did a day in the Navy like my bro but did retire from the Army (and was a ACE for a while there) but i can tell you someone is going to come on here and laff … No, it isn’t anything like being in the Navy … at all!

I meant in terms of how much time was spent at sea vs at a dock somewhere. Definitely know the culture is not military. I’m getting confused when they say 270 days sea-time and if that’s different than the Navy sailor would use the term. I know the USCG gives you 200 days sea-time minimum a year for licensing purposes when you’re assigned to a ship.

yea, re: 200 days, that sounds like the air force where they only do 6 months while we had to do a year … i guess thats ok as long as you learn twice as fast !!!
i’d be prepared to do somewhere around 250 DAS when you’re working for the govt. many families won’t stand for it but you sure won’t beat the benifits for the time out there.

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It was explained to me like this.

4 months has about 30 days of weekends IE Saturday’s and Sunday’s.

The government wonks thought that you would basically sails 120 days then take your 30 days off to compensate for your lost weekends then go do it again. Because you’re just like everyone else working a M-F 9-5, just doing it on a larger scale. Makes sense right? :rofl:

Wow, such flawed logic. Why would they ever look at industry standards and attempt to offer similiar conditions?

I don’t know how the Navy uses the term Sea Time, but generally speaking (and with a few exceptions) the USCG counts Sea Service on merchant ships for upgrades based on time assigned to a sea going vessel, not strictly the days underway. When you sign onto an MSC vessel, it is usually assumed you’ll be working every day. Sure there are some opportunities to take a few hours off here and there, but typically when you sign off after 4, 6…10 months you’ll receive a sea service letter covering that entire duration. During that time the ship may be in port in conus for weeks at a time, possibly a short yard availability. If overseas you can expect shorter port stays, but it used to be pretty common to be pier side for several days every other week. Time in port visits is still “sea time”, you are still working.

I am guessing what you are referring to here is deferred pay when you exceed the senior govt level pay cap?
I never quite hit the limit when I was there so someone else can chime in, but my understanding was that after you hit the cap any further earnings were accrued as deferred earnings. After the end of the year, you receive lump-sum payment as your first check of the new year, up to the cap again, then it starts deferring again. For those who had deferred earnings above what they could make in a year they would have to wait until they left MSC to receive the lump sum.

It greatly depends. I’ve been on a ship operating in and out of Djibouti, Africa pulling in on a Saturday morning and leaving on a Monday morning to head out for a week and repeat for almost 3 months in a row. I’ve been on a ship sitting in Subic Bay, Philippines at the pier for 60 days over the holidays. Ammo ships have different schedules than tankers and so forth. All depends what part of the world your in and on what type of ship. Repair periods pop up every now and then for a few weeks at the pier. East coast tankers and ammo ships in Norfolk spend more time at the pier than underway in my opinion. Regardless, you’ll usually get a good mix of underway time and pier time or on the hook no matter where you are. After 21 days at the pier you get 1 for 3 sea days I believe. But after 3 years of employment here you probably won’t need sea time anyway.

Thanks that’s the kind of detailed information that I was hoping for.