First ship questions <<< help please!

I am just out of school and I looking for my first third mate job. I was offered an ab job and although I would much rather sail as a mate I am considering taking the ab position. I did well in school and aboard the training ship but I am not sure if I am ready for all responsiblities that a third mate has. Here are my concerns.

I have never been in charge of tieing up or letting go, will someone help me with this if i am the 3 mate or am I supposed to know how to do it?

As a third mate I am in charge of the safety equipment yet I have very liitle hands on training with tools and repairing things ( blame my dad for this one. )

When I “stood watch” on the training ship there was always a lot of people helping and now it just me and an ab.

I think if I sail as an ab I can get some more exposure to the duties of a third mate and be a more confident mate but I am also worried I will get to comfortable as an ab and be even more nervous to sail as a mate.

I also don’t want to wait forever to get a job and this position is just waiting for me.

Also what do you bring on your first ship? Will the ship have a lot of the stuff I need for sale or am I am just better of bringing a 4 moth supply of everything? I asked one of the MT Professors but he just told me- this isn’t summer camp.

Ok, I have a few days to think about it. Thanks for reading this.

Sarah—I can’t comment on “SHIPS”, but I can comment on boats. I do not think it is a good idea to run as AB. Why did you spend the time to get the 3rd if you were going to run as AB. I understand you do not intend to make AB your career, but in my “OPINION” (everyone has one it doesn’t make me right or wrong) you should jump in head first and do your best. You are going to make mistakes. That is a given. We all do. I think you should start as a 3rd like your license you worked so hard to get. If you are in doubt call the Capt, call your relief just make sure you call. I would rather get yelled at for calling and waking someone up than get yelled out for running aground or causing a collision. I have never been yelled out for waking someone up anyway. Most Masters won’t. Most companies are not going to put you in a position to screw up that bad anyway. There is a high probability that there will be someone watching your every move. You will still be able to get in the trenches will the crew running as third, but if you are the AB then it will be mandatory to do this and that instead of organizing and executing this and that. I don’t know about ships, but on my boat you have to bring your own towel. There is soap and linen onboard but I bring my own. If I were you I would bring anything that there is any doubt about and after your first hitch you will know what you need and don’t need, but that may vary from ship to ship. Your professor sounds like a prick, I like him already. LEE

“Also what do you bring on your first ship?” Everything you think you need except soap, towels and linens. Most ships will provided PPE and some will provide coveralls but be sure to bring some good boots.

“have never been in charge of tieing up or letting go,” ask the captain for a good AB and then stand back and monitor the operation. If anything seems unsafe or wrong then you’ll have to step in. Most importantly don’t let the line handlers on the dock give you any BS.

I’m working on 40,000 DWT tankers, and I wouldn’t accept you neither as an AB nor 3rd mate. Why - because in my opion you don’t have the experience needed as an AB or as a mate in ocean going tankers. Sorry.

But what kind of vessel are you thinking about?

To Hebr:

    Now, I thought I would let this one go, but I dont think so. Sarah3M is asking for advise about a 3rd mate/AB job and your opinion is she couldn't handle either due to lack of experience. Can you give your criteria for an experieced (enough) junior officer to run as AB on your ship?

Herb your just being lazy. Yes having a qualified AB would be better for the
ship but the only negative of hiring Sarah would be that you would have to
spend time training her and fixing her mistakes… but that’s part of your job. Everyone has to start somewhere and everyone deserves a chance and opportunity to learn.

Maybe you responded to the wrong post, your comments seem more
appropriate on in response to THIS
That guy (sorry LEE, just being honest) I wouldn’t hire as 3<sup>rd</sup>
mate for the same reasons you state…but again I’d sure give him a shot as AB
and if he had the right attitude (i.e. not thinking he is too over-qualified
for the job) probably promote him quickly.

Anyway I’m sure glad I didn’t work for you right out of the academy.

<span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’]Sarah, there is some merit to Cpt Lee’s comment “Why
did you spend the time to get the 3rd if you were going to run as AB.” But
your clearly not ready (nor are your classmates) for a 3/m’s job. If I was in
your shoes I’d find a ship that carried 2 third mates. Many ships do to give the Chief Mate some free time to do things like train young mates. I’d look for a
ship under MSC/MARAD contract (don’t join MSC itself). The ship’s run by the government
are not on such a tight schedule giving the senior officers more time to train
young mates. </span>

Sarah, a good option might be trying to find a job aboard a smaller vessel. I had maybe a small research vessel or cruise ship in mind. Here you will find a smaller crew, sometimes just 5 people including the captain, two mates , a cook and an engineer. As a mate you stand your own bridge watch, do safety inspections, make repairs and work the lines for tying up and letting go but it is a much smaller scale.

I did this as my first job out of school. I have a science background so working aboard a research vessel was a perfect fit. The captains and mates I worked were pretty patient and laid back, and i worked really hard so they didn’t seem to mind my “lack of experience”. The draw backs with smaller ships is you only get half time or no time towards your license since it doesn’'t meet the required tonnage. And the pay is nothing great and most research ships rely on government funding and problems get cut all the time. But I learned a lot and aferwards felt really comfortable on my next ship which was a container ship.

Hope this helps.

<span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’]To anchorman:</span>

<span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’]When I read Sarah3M’s question, I’m getting a very strong impression that he/she has only been to sea on a training ship. How would you like to be on a vessel as a senior, and your deck crew are strait from training school together with the 3’ mate? </span>

<span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’]</span><span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’]Personally I’m looking very much forward to work with young people, and luckily we have a lot of young people in the company where I’m employed. We normally have 2-3 cadets onboard, our 3rd officers have min. 15 months sea time before they can get their license and our AB’s must have min 36 months sea time, so we also have 1-2 OS onboard. And we use a lot of time on supervising and training our crew’s and especially our young and inexperienced crewmembers.</span><span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’]But the above criteria of experiece are what our Board of Trade has decided and I don’t disagree with that. </span>

<span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’]Back to hebr:</span>

<span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’] Come’ on. Your statement was absolute regarding not having Sarah3M as a mate or an AB. Asking how I would like having a deck crew “together” with a 3rd mate straight from training school is an entirely different context. We’re talking about one individual, straight from school, and wanting to learn on her own merit. Not the whole crew. Most companies accommodate such individuals as well as most prudent masters. </span>

<span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’]</span><span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’] Looks like your company would be good for a hawser, but if I were fresh out of the academy, I would look for something better. There is no way I would start as an OS.</span>

<span style="font-size: 10.5pt; color: #062971; font-family: ‘Trebuchet MS’]</span>

What I find dificult accepting is that young people can graduate from the academy with out having any time at sea on a merchant ship. And it does make one wander about who you can meet out there and their background.

I could be wrong but I think Ft. Schuyler is the only academy that doesn’t put their cadets on commercial ships. All other schools make students take one seaterm (about 3 months but cadets can stay longer) off the training ship.

I ended up turning down the ab job. I just didn’t feel it was what I wanted. I want to ship out as a third mate, I worked hard to get my license and want to sail on it. I think I might of given the wrong impression of myself. I am a hard worker and a fast learner. I am nervous and green but I imagine thats nothing new and everyone has to starts somewhere… right?


You are right. Don't let those who need self-reassurance of their own skillset tell you anything other than "welcome aboard". Being green isn't that bad. Hopefully, you will get assigned with a good master that can keep you from learning bad habits.....LIKE NOT GIVING PEOPLE A CHANCE for instance. Good luck. Just checks, navigating....etc. is the easy and fun part. Dealing with other self-proclaimed GODS of the seven seas is the hardest to get use to. Sometimes it's like walking in WAL-MART...God does have a sense of humor...even on ships....and even on the internet..apparently.



I am impressed that you understand that graduating from school and getting your 3rd mate does not automatically mean you are qualified to stand your own bridge watch. I would take a ship-full of mates with your attitude over the hyper-inflated egos that can accompany a new 3rd mate, or worse (and I’ve seen it), an old school 1st mate.

I agree with cak212, and find the atmosphere onboard research and small cruise ships to be much more about training and developing mates than that found on cargo ships. Try unols dot org for research ships, and there are many american flag small passenger vessels out there. By the way, don’t look for the big paycheck in these two sectors of the industry. But, you will find support, training, pretty good seatime, and definitely hands on ship handling experience.

Good luck,

Capt. Jill


Everyone, everyone is scared before they go out on their first 3/M job. Right now, you do not have the experiance, but that comes in time. Don’t listen to some of these crusty old salts -ie I would never hire you as either- what a load of crap! He must have been the only person to enter this world with a Master’s license and knowing where everything is and how it all works on all the ships he will ever work on. Just work hard, don’t complain, ask questions if you don’t know or don’t understand, don’t hesitate to call the Captain when you think that you might need him/her, and don’t worry about looking silly at times, it happens to all of us. Remember at the end of the day, did you spill any oil? Did anyone get hurt? Did you do anything that will cost the company a large amount of money? If you answer no to all of these, you haven’t done too bad. Get out there and sail!

Kingfysh… I think you’re 99% correct. The other 1% is that Captain’s won’t choose a green mate unless they have to.


I heard it both ways from captains. I had a captain tell me he will take a green 3/M that is motivated, well educated, and willing to learn over a crusty old guy that is difficult to work with and either won’t or can’t learn new ways to do things. I have seen some fellow mariners that are long on experiance, but real short on health or willingness to race around the deck getting things done. I am not saying that all old mariners can’t keep up with young officers, hell I have seen a man almost 70 who could work any younger man into the ground. Experience has its place, but lets face it, most people that are good quickly want to put 3/M behind them as fast as possible, inspecting fire extinguishers sucks…Thanks for the 99%.

In the end it is all about having the right attitude. Nobody comes from any maritime college or academy, with the right experience. I don’t know about the US, but the practical time actually spent on merchant ships during maritime training in Europe is getting less and less.

I would hire any young graduate at any time if he/she has the right attitude and motivation. I am not active sailing anymore, and working in the ship repair business, where it is the same story. Experience you gain on the job, but you need to be given a fair chance at that. Good luck Sarah3M, go for it!