Ex-Navy Aux. Machinist Mate, looking to regain my sea legs in the industry

Okay, I understand that there are dedicated “stickies” to these types of questions. I’d like to preface that I have been doing some browsing, researching, talked with a few folks, talked to the local NMC facility (Portland, OR, by the way, Washington State resident here), and I have a vague baseline knowledge of what my next steps are before I start to shotgun resumes from coastline to coastline.

Honorably discharged from Navy in May, 2009 (Auxiliary Machinist Mate on Submarines, 4 years). Recently a friend who holds a Chief Engineer license and pulled a Rasputin on me and I go through the necessary paperwork, get approved to test (have letter stating I can test out for QMED (Any) Rating from Q800-Q808) I currently have a valid TWIC card, US Passport, MMC Medical Certificate, and had just passed my Oiler I&II exams (trying for the others, but proctor informed me I can call her up anytime to say I’m done with testing out and she’ll submit for the MMC card/book/license with Oiler certs). Right now it seems the only thing I would need is STCW Basic Safety Training and the RFPEW binder thing (Chief friend said print out all the engineer stuff from NMC website and put into giant binder, believe it’s similar to Navy Qual Cards as signatures for demonstrated proficiency for all things Engineering-side aka treat it like a Bible.)

That was to give the nitty gritty details that ones might ask to to give better advice. My questions: are their etiquettes/faux pas about the interview process? ie. if I live out-of-state and get offered an interview job, will company fly me out on their own dime or is it always on mine (therefore behooves of me to look at the WSF jobs, I’ve seen pop up here?) If and when hired, and given the crew rotation and not on boat, but don’t live in area? Does company provide hotel/lodging/fend for self? ie. I live in WA, but company is in LA, go out to sea and pull back in to LA to swap crew, does company pay or provide cheap lodging if not wanting to fly back home? Or even allowed to fly back home in some cases? Also respectfully request if anyone has any information about potential checklists for things to watch out for/look for in companies, any search terms (I seem to be lacking even in that area to try and define what I’m trying to seek information-wise), cliff notes, key words-tricky phrases, quick guide for getting your affairs in order so if you happen to get hitched for a long stint, you don’t happen to have a “oh shit, left burner on/forgot to do this” moment and come to find out after getting back, all your shit is up and vanished, gone whatever.

Again, thanks for letting me post here, this seems like a great place once I can get my feet wet again and settled in somewhat familiar territory. I’m single, decent shape, non-drinker/smoker, no drug problems, no problems with law, no child support/girlfriend/wife/gay lover/whatever floats yer boat, tend to live a minimalist lifestyle, just seem a bit weary about just waving goodbye to everyone and leaving halfway cross the country to then have some weird bullshit happen and now I got to make ends meet to hoof it back. I just like to be prepared and have my ducks in a row, just…with all this new community discourse language/acronyms being flung about, it’s a bit much to try and absorb, apply, and take advantage of it. Thanks again, this is me getting off the damn soap box now.

That all depends on the company. Some pay for some or all of that, others don’t pay for some or all of it.

Have bills on auto pay as much as possible. Preferably you have someone you can trust to pay them for you. If you live alone empty your fridge and unplug it and all you appliances, even TV and entertainment center stuff. They all drain a small amount constantly and if you’re not there is wasted money. Also, turn your AC warm and your heat cold.

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Get the documents etc in order, as far as the details, when you start looking for work, if you get to a situation and have more questions about a specific situation just come back here and ask, likely someone here has encountered whatever you’re up against.

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@Kennebec_Captain, @Capt_Phoenix Thank you both, I appreciate the comments and suggestions. I understand it can be mind-numbing having repetitive questions being asked. I had been using search terms mainly focusing on “QMED” and “Oiler”, and noticed that Hornbeck Offshore, has a position opening matching those terms. Knowing I don’t have a STCW yet, I emailed the recruiting department basically asking the same thing here, is that a big no-no amongst the community here? I included that if I was out-of-line for asking to just disregard my email. Also I guess I should include is that I’m not a current cadet/academy, so I have very little networking/connections, just using seasources to study, willpower to get through the questions base, and scheduling tests I feel I have a high chance to pass them. Also dreading the issue of union vs non-union, as I dealt with that earlier with the Carpenter’s Union, big can of worms that I’m sure the 500 lb gorilla on my back is gonna eat and weigh me down even further. Nonetheless, thank you and I’ll try to keep questions short, due diligence to learn, and updates on what I’ve found for other new guys.

I wouldn’t contact a company till I was ready to go, don’t burn your bridges till you get to them.

It might be worthwhile looking at goverment jobs, MSC, NOAA, State ferrry etc, good place to get your foot in the door, the culture is a little closer to the military, sort of a half-way house for vets.

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Don’t overlook local opportunities: Washington State Ferries. Alaska Marine Highway. Shaver. Tidewater Barge Lines, Crowley, Foss, Sause Bros., AML, Mason, Global Divers, Western Towboat, and the other tug companies. Lots of fishing companies with large vessels around Seattle. Most tugs, fishing vessels, and Ferries are exempt from STCW, so you don’t need RFPEW in order to go to work now.

Also, you should talk to the IBU. IBU is not really a bad union, they just have bad negotiators. Some companies only hire from the IBU Hall. I’ll leave it the deep sea guys to talk about SUP and SIU and deep sea shipping.

If you you have reefer skills, and/or a QMED-Reefer endorsement, don’t forget to highlight that in the PNW.

If you need to work now, hit Seattle hard. Also, there are plenty of jobs requiring mechanical skills in the North Dakota and Texas onshore oil patch. Many of those jobs pay better than going to sea.