Have you ever sailed with Russians?

I’m a graduate/license student at Ft. Schuyler currently out on cadet observer in lieu of second class cruise. I was placed on a foreign flag tanker manned by Russian officers and crew. Fortunately, many of the deck officers speak decent conversational English, so I don’t anticipate the language barrier being a major issue. Have any of you had experience sailing with Russian officers or crew in the past? Do you have any advice or interesting stories?

Don’t even think about trying to keep up when they start drinking!!! If you don’t die, you will wish you were dead.

I sail with 3 of them right now. One AB a chief and a A/E. All 3 are good seaman as far as I’m concerned. Other than the A/E and AB don’t speak great english, there is nothing bad I could say wbout any of them.

Heed the advice of CaptainMike.
I sailed with Polish and Russians for a total of 500+/- days. All days were in the 1980s durring jointventure fisheries in the Bering and west coast. THe boats were all 300’-400’ factory trawlers used as processors.

The good news: ALL were very experinced mariners. The education system over there put kids on diffrent trade tracts early on. In the 9th grade the guys on the boats went the maritime highschool route. By the 10th grade they had a choice of Deck or Bridge. The bridge guys went to our equivent to a 4 year academy and then shipped out for ONE year as an apprentice. After that, they got their 3/M. The deck guys went to a two year AB style school and later completed their ONE year apprentice on deck (OS).

We would do an at sea offload to small cargo boats. It was common to see kids on the cargo boats. The companies had a policy for family ride-a-longs.

The guys on the trawlers were on a 6 month on 6 month off schedule. It saved the company money on air fare.

For the guys in general. NEVER NEVER ever sit down for “just one” drink. The tradition is open a bottle of vodka and toss the cap away. Why? aint no need for the cap anymore cause its all gona get used. expect lots of sliced sauage, tasty dense bread capable of pounding nails, and lots of toasts (not the bread type): Nas Drovia.

Why cant Americans survive drinking with Poles and Russians? Well, frankly all the weak ones died generations ago. Natural selection has created some very interesting adaptive mechanisms: bulit proof livers. Son its a fact. Just like white guys cant jump AMericans just cant out drink Poles or Russians. It aint in our genes. Trust me when I say this. I have tried… several times… and luckily am here to say I lost.

As far as mariner skills go. I would trust them. They are honest professionals. They might steal somthing from the boat to sell in port but the guys I sailed with would never think of taking a fellow seamans things. Some of the masters over 50 years old may be a bit Soviet iron fisted type on the bridge. but the younger ones will have a more inlightened managment style. They may dress a bit rough but dont let that fool you. Also, english is the international maritime language. The Poles and Russians on the bridge were required to take english for several years.

Have fun. You’ll probably learn a few diffrent tricks.

I’m cadet from Ukraine, ethnic russian, and I want to tell you that if you really going to work with russians you should put out of your head all stereotypes. Young generation doesn’t drink vodka as elders. And don’t mention USSR topic in conversations, it might be dangerous :smiley:
If you have any questions I’ll be happy to answer.
P.S. sorry for my bad English. :slight_smile:

Would you please describe the schooling a Russian must complete starting from age 13 before becoming a bridge officer?


When you graduate junior highschools you have to choose what you will do next. You can enter hight school, russian equivalent of college, or academy.

  1. If you have chosen college, you study there for 4 years and after graduation you can get promotion to the 3Off.
  2. If you have chosen high school, after graduation you may choose between university or academy. There you study for 5,5 years. After graduation you also can get promotion to the 3Off.
    But according to the local regulations, if you graduated from college you can work only as 3Off. So, if you want to get promotion to the 2Off you should enter academy.
    During studing in academy there are two 6 month practices provided, the first is after 2nd year, and the second is after 4th year. In order to get promotion to the 3Off you must have 12 month census as a deck cadet, from which 6 months should pass on the bridge under the direction of the officer.

Thanks Alex. It is always nice to hear directly from people who have been there~!

Thanks for the advice gentlemen. Sorry I’m just getting back to this post, but we’re just pulling into Houston after being out in the Gulf of Mexico without an internet connection for the last three weeks. Everything has gone fairly well so far and I think this will be a valuable learning experience. The crew is friendly and competent. Haven’t had a chance to enjoy their company ashore yet. I’ll keep you updated.

Sober when on watch and drinking to excess when not on watch while underway. No concept of zero tolerance.