Going back to sea in the current state of things

Hello everyone,

First off, I want to say that I have enjoyed reading pretty much this entire forum like it was a book prior to joining! Lots of great information and I hope to glean a little bit more.

Second, I hate that my first impression to y’all is one of a guy asking a question that has seamingly been beaten like a dead horse, red headed stepchild, or a SeaShepherd nitwit onboard one of y’alls ships! With that being said, here goes…

A career at sea has been my dream since high school. Specifically my intention was to ship out deep sea onboard containerships or tankers, as I was really interested in their trade routes and, to be honest, enamoured with the shape of those vessels. Anyways, without going on and on about my interests in all things nautical, I found myself with an application to Piney Point and the SIU Unlicensed Apprentice Program. Needless to say, my father, an old Navy guy who was enlisted said no way to shipping out and not being an officer. So I packed my little bag and wound up spending a very strange year at Mass Maritime Academy. Found out that I did in fact LOVE going out to sea and pretty much every aspect of it. I would end up leaving a year later. Multitude of reason, but boiling down to a dislike for the way the Academy operated. Now before all you Academy grads get too upset, I can take the heat, had nothing to do with discipline, it just wasn’t the right place for me at the time. One of those “life takes you in a different direction” deals.

So nowadays I wound up getting a Liberal Arts degree and work a pretty average paying ho-hum government job. I cannot think of any profession or lifestyle that illicits such profound passion in people as those who go to sea. If you are not a seafarer or someone who is drawn to a seafaring lifestyle, you just get blank stares when you talk to them about wanting to go back and work the water. With that being said, I am sure you all understand what I am going through when I tell you I am terribly drawn back into this world right now and I cannot shake it off. It is simply somthing I must pursue again.

Pay is not an issue for me, at least not right now.
I will not be going back to any maritime school.
I want to work O/S and go from there.

That being said, the situation for me in Port Fourchon looks grim as almost all the posters on the board reporting trouble finding work and long lengths of unemployment knocking on the doors down there all have sea time, experience, and advanced licenses or ratings. Can someone explain if this is a good or bad thing for ME, because I see it two ways…

  1. the market is good for a new O/S because I can be hired at a cheaper day rate
  2. I’m screwed because even experienced guys are having trouble

Back to Piney Point?

It seems that the deep sea fleet is almost non existant anymore. So is this program a waste of time and energy? Everything has benefits, but really, is it foolish to even consider, outside of MSC, deepsea sailing unlicensed? Also, I have long wondered how the so-called “hiring halls” work. I mean, I know how they work, but how long would an O/S sit around waiting for a job? That is the scary part. I spoke with SUP and they told me up front that sailing as an O/S would be very hard.

Crew management agencies

There are thousands of ships sailing around right now, deep sea, international trade, basically doing all the things alot of US merchant mariners either fondly remember, or wish they could be doing. And they seem to be crewed by ship management agencies. Can someone give me any details on the ups and downs of this? Obviously these seem to be targeted toward East Europe and Philipines, so I am sure the pay is a fraction of what it would be under a US Flag. Seems like it might be a fun adventure for a year or two though, is this a possibility with US mariner documents? Any useful info on this seamingly crazy idea outside of learning to live on rice?! Any reputable ones worth contacting?

Any final comments on actually going to WORK (!!) as an O/S instead of school.

Oh, and forgot to add the other question section of why, after following the MSC hiring webpage for a year have there been no O/S slots? Any intel on that hiring situation?

Sorry guys, this is the last edit! Forgot again to mention a possiblity I have seen. NOAA. Already work for the Fed Gov, so this might be a good route…any info? That is all,promise…awaiting your replies! Regards and Merry Christmas, stay safe out there!

Piney Point would not be a waste of your time, make sure you have your TWIC before applying though. You will not find an OS job with MSC starting out unless you have enough experience to get hired on with the OS to AB program. The best thing to do is get hired on as a Supply Utilityman and cross deck from there although I haven’t seen this position open since January. In MSC you can advance quite fast if you’re motivated, the hard part though can be getting classes approved. They also have many more open positions that you can only apply for after you get hired, i.e. get hired as an SU then apply for the OS to AB program right after you’re hired. I would expect the SU position to be opening up shortly so keep an eye on the site and get your application package with your KSU’s ready so you can mail it out right away.

NOAA is not a ba deal since you said $$ is not a concern right now. Also look at Stabbert Maritime out of Seattle. Mostly survey & dive vessels, They also have a couple of MegaYachts. Left Coast and GOM. www.stabbertmaritime.com . Talk to Chela Muren. 60 on / 60 off and they pay 100% travel to/from the vessel. They are almost always looking for OS’s.

Don’t totally dimiss the Academies, I understand that your experience at Mass didn’t work out, but don’t totally disregard the option. I know Maine and California take non-traditional students and as a non-trad at Maine you have to put up with much less of military BS, which at Maine isn’t that bad anyway… Jday is right on about being hired on as an OS at MSC, you will have to join as a steward utility and then work your way to OS and then AB. Unfortunately, getting from SU to OS isn’t always quick and being that you are pretty well educated at this point working as an SU could be exceedingly boring. MSC will promise you the world, then once you get aboard the ship forget that you ever existed… Another thought, just occured to me, but do any of the classes or sea time you acrued at Mass transfer over toward progress for your AB ticket? When I was at Maine it was rumored that if you left after your sophomore year, you would have your AB unlimited. This was just a rumor, but it may make things easier for you. Good luck.