There really isn’t much in the American fleet that is comparable to the new build cruise ships that were sailing in Hawaii. Matson has built some new ships, as has OSG, and a few others, but over all American Merchant ships are about a generation behind the foreign ships. I never believed this until I stopped sailing and started work as a surveyor, I consistently hear Chief Mates refer to a ship that is ten years old, as old. The most modern ship I spent any real time on was built in 1979. The American fleet is slowly modernizing, but we will always be a step behind for many reasons.
I wouldn’t get into this industry expecting to only work on shiny, new, well built ships. If you restricted the ships you are willing to work on to only those, you will never work. To get on a new build ship you generally have to have some seniority in the unions or with the company you are sailing with. Don’t totally disregard the old rust buckets, they are interesting, if a bit dirty to live on. I learned how to fix more stuff aboard that old ship then I would have if I had worked on a shiny new tanker or container ship. The philosophy of “Git er done” is a good one to learn aboard a ship. If something breaks and it needs to be fixed, sometimes you need to make imperfect fixes to it. Of course you would never admit to an auditor that the radar is held together with duct tape and baling wire, but you fixed it didn’t you?
Everything I heard about the cruise ships was second hand or third hand, I never sailed on one. Stuff I heard:
You were not allowed to mingle with the passengers unless you were in your whites and totally scrubbed up, a bit hard for an engineer to ever get completely clean while aboard the ship.
Security is apparently nuts aboard the ships. They have cameras that follow your activities on the Bridge and in the control room.
Bridge watches are stood with two deck officers and commonly the captain on the Brdige, so as an inexperienced 3/M you never really stand your own watch and learn how to do things by yourself.
All of the above are things I heard from friends, I never experienced them myself, however my sources are trustworthy.
If you want to do this you need to just accept that you want to work on the sea on whatever ship will take you. For the most part American ships are well maintained and safe, they may not be as pretty as foreign ships, but they are safe and decent to live aboard. I would look into working in the Gulf of Mexico, they have a lot of new build boats, the hitches are shorter, and the technology is pretty new out there.
Working in this industry is a big life and culture change, you are going to be working your ass off while aboard the ship with no days off and little connection to your family. Your wife and kids also have to be ready to have their father/husband gone for six months of the year. You will have to have a thick skin and not flinch at a p**** joke or two or three. I sailed for five years and decided that what I wanted from going to sea was increasingly not available to me, so I got married and came ashore. I do miss it at times and I am a better person for all my experiences…Although, my chances of getting into heaven might have been jeopardized.[/QUOTE]
Thank you for the post Kingfysh. You sure are able to put things into perspective…Did you maybe run into Hemingway when you were on the sea…lol Super post !
Thank you again for sharing your insights and giving me (us) a real look at what to expect and think about, before we give it a shot. You added things I would have never thought of. (Esp the wife and kids part…something very important)
Wise men learn by other men’s mistakes, fools by their own.
–H. G. Bohn