Hawsepipe crossover

<font size="3]How would a 1600 ton master on oilfield support vessels, who recently got his 3rd mate unlimited, make the leap into the bluewater? And how much do 3rd mates really make?</font>

Domestic or Overseas?

Container ship, tanker, research, or offshore drilling?

Union of non-union?

American 3rd mates on average start at about 60k. Way lower for research ships, slightly higher for offshore drilling (if you have a Dynamic Positioning cert)

Offshore mates work 2on-2off or 3on-3off domestic and 4on-4off international (weeks that is)

Mates on “real ships” usually work 90-days on 90-off domestic and 120-on 120-off foriegn.

Offshore you usually must take the time full time off, on cargo ships you usually have to get off after 90 or 120 but can get righ back on another ship.

MSC pays well on a yearly basis but terribly on a daily basis… I think they work 4months on 1 month off.

If you want a job on “real ships” you pretty much have to join a union. Join AMO if you want a steady job and MMP or MEBA if you want more money.

For offshore ships google (in order of preference); Transocean, Global SantaFe, Stena Drilling, Seadrill, Frontier Drilling, Pride, Noble and submit a resume online. They are all non-union.

Cpt. Lee,

Nice job sitting thru all those 3/m classes the uscg now requires!! I didn’t think too many in your position would go for a 3/m’s license after they announced the new program.

A 3rd mate will make WAY less than a 1600t master/Master OSV in the oilfield. With Chouest, Candies, and others pushing $600/day for captains on Anchor & Supply boats, expect to take a 40% paycut if you decide to go the 3rd mate route.

Global SanteFe was looking for 3rd/mate DP unlimited operators @ $80,000 28on/28off. Diamond Offshore has an add on Rigzone right now. Not sure about pay.

CMJeff-----Thank you for the info. Let me run something by you. Let’s say I stay right where I am (On a great vessel with a great company). I am currently enrolled at RTM Star Center for my Chief Mate/Master classes (Have yet to do one). Get my Chief Mate/Master license. How much do “they” get compensated on average, because there is no way I could take that type of pay cut for 3rd mate 2nd mate. It is kind of frustrating, but it is looking like my options would be better staying in oil field related vessels that operate under unlimited tonnage, than to get into ocean shipping, but I think I would really like to be on a tanker or LNG. By this time I will probably be between 36 or 37, I just feel like a company would not want to hire me when they could hire a 26-28 year old Master who has the degree to boot and have been on ships from the start Oh well. Should of pulled my head out my ass sooner.LOL

Your not in bad shape!

First I assume your boat is unlimited tonnage? Otherwise you won’t be able to upgrade your license.

With exceptions (like Polar Tankers) tankers don’t pay any better but LNG ships do. Problem is that US Flagged LNG ships will not be out for a few years. You also need to have the proper Tankerman PIC endorsements. If this is what you want to do I’d suggest taking a 3 month LOL from your company to get some LNG experience and your PIC with a foreign company… then you’d be one of the very few Americans with the right qualifications!

As far as chief mates pay offshore. Salaries range from 95k (Transocean) to over 125k (global) a wide margin I know!!! I dissagree totally about your difficulty getting a job at 36 or needing a degree. The oil patch doesn’t care about your qualifications as long as the Coast Guard is happy… what they do care about is that you can do the job! With over a dozen unlimited tonnage new-builds coming out in the next five years they are going to be desperate for people and salaries are bound to increase.

Also I’ve seen it countless time, given the choice of hiring a master with qualifications and expeirance vs. a master with a few grey hairs, they’ll take the older canidate first every time!

The only disadvantage I see it that you do need ships experience for these jobs and your right, they do seem to prefer people who have been on ships from the start… but I have seen many exceptions to the case.

Captain’s can easily make north of 150k with bonuses and the brand new companies are rumored to offer salaries well north of 200k to attract masters away from competitors.

Also remember that while the 3rd/2nd mate salary is low, it is only for 6months of work per year. Many mates moonlight for dive support vessels during their off time.

Hope this helps and glad to see I’m not the only one posting on this site (got any friends you can get to post? It’s lonely on new forums…)

CMJeff—Yes it is unlimited. Just under 6000 ITC but, it falls under my master OSV. I have four licenses. 1600 ton/3000 ITC Master Oceans, Master of towing vessels upon Oceans and Western Rivers, Master of Large OSV 500 to 6000 ITC and 3rd Mate Unlimited. There is another site called Gulf-Chat.com It was pretty cool for a while, but they should change the site from gulf-chat to gulf war president Bush bashing.com It has become a politcal site. I got on here because a friend/colleague mentioned it to me. There are very few companies here in the gulf that have internet access offshore. I am at work myself. Polar Tankers seems to be a really good company with a good future. You know how it is. The grass always looks greener on the other side. I am in a good spot and really don’t think I would leave, but it is good to be informed. Here in the Oil Patch you always hear one rumor or another, but are never sure what is real until it happens. Things are good, I just hope it stays that way. Thanks for your Comments.

I agree with CMJeff that your in good shape being on an unlimited tonnage boat and that you should get some experiance on a ship going in and out of port. You can get 90% of the experience you need on your vessel but understanding how a ship operates and is managed is needed. I would ask my boss for a month off and find a ship that needs a 3rd to <font size="-1]tempararely</font> fill in.

I’d ask the guys at STAR center and MITAGS about doing some 7-10day break outs on one of the grey hulls. You’ll have to join a union but the dues aren’t bad and you’ll have some time on your book if you ever decide to go that route. You won’t be able to learn all you need to know but you’ll have a chance to see a wide variety of ships as well as get some good scuttlebutt/advice. Plus with OT the money can’t be beat. Also if you live near an [MM&P union hall](http://www.bridgedeck.org/mmp_directory.pdf" title="Download the MM&P Directory) consider doing some night mating.

You can go to Seadrill all our Non D.P.O’S are and there getting around 100k

Man, I just don’t think I could go back to making just 100K. That is something I never thought I would say.

Hopefully, the pilot gig comes as planned and you’ll be saying that about $200,000.

If you are happy where you are and with a good company stay there. I have sailed bluewater and isn’t what we imagine it is. Most of the pay estimates on here are pretty accurate, as a 3/M expect 70K-90K a year. Get with one of the unions will be the easiest…I would stay where you are…Or we could switch places since I am trying to break into brown water.

Kingfysh: When I had originally asked the question I had recently got my 3rd Mate Unlimited. Being on the OSV’s and not in the upper level licensing scheme, I had no idea what the pay was or what doors would be opened by getting a 3rd Mate. I thought my whole world would change my getting the unlimited license and that there would be lots of changes and opportunities. The truth is I am doing about as good as a person can do in my position. Although there are more opportunities for me now, it seems I would not make any more money. I am happy, I guess. As happy as a guy can be that is never home, but things are good and when I finish my Chief Mate classes and finish paying back my company for paying for them, I can stay home a little more and hopefully work a little less.

The best thing about the unlimited 3/M is that it means you have all the necessary endorsements to take smaller, ie limited tonnage vessels, anywhere in the world. If you have a towing endorsement you should be able to go to almost any towing company and get a job pretty quick. If you are looking for an equal rotation they are out there, just keep looking. When I was looking for a job I created a form email and scanned all my documents into the email. I than shotgunned it to every comapny I could find. I would say that about 60% at least generated a respsonse. The unlimited world however is controlled mostly by the unions, for better and worse.

“The best thing about the unlimited 3/M is that it means you have all the necessary endorsements to take smaller, ie limited tonnage vessels, anywhere in the world”… WHAT? A mate is a mate. You can’t “take” anything anywhere without a Masters License. An endorsement is “in-addition” to your license. “unlimited” means “>1,600Tons” by definition. Mate means “training to be master”, basically. Don’t see where any of this can be construed within the scope of the above quote.


One thing that you have to take into account is the total compensation. The quality and cost of health insurance, 401K match, [the OSV folks seem to be only matching 50 cent/dollar up to 6% ], stock purchase plan, paid time off etc… I looked into the OSV business and though the day rate was good they came up lacking a little when it was all added together. If the total compensation had been competitive I’d have recently gone on an OSV for sure. Not as many regulations, less equipment to worry about, home more often etc.

You have to remember that you’re starting up another ladder when you go from limited to unlimited and the unlimited pay will eventually surpass the limited. Right now you’re big fish in a small pond. Jumping into the big pond is not an easy decision though I’m sure you could handle it in very little time.

For me there’s a certain amount of professional pride knowing you run the bigger ships and the accommodations are nice. It’s kind of a “be all you can be” choice for some. Others just want to see if they can do it and still others are happy chillin’ in the GOM and not having the long time away from home. To each his own.


What I meant is that you will have the oceans endorsement by default and you should also have GMDSS as well. It was not intended as a slight


If you stay ontop of your upgrades you can be unlimited C/M in a few years and the day rate is the same as your current. Best advice if you do go unlimited is start taking your C/M/Master’s classes right away if you go unlimited that way you dont waste anytime. Remember just because most drillship/semi jobs say you work 28 and 28 doesnt mean you have to. If you want to work more, most companies are willing to give you more work. Plus right now the drilling companies are paying for upgrade classes plus school day pay. I think it really depends on what you where you want to see yourself in 5 years.

Good luck

Guest: You are right about the benefits and 401K. Those two things are definitely lacking. I would rather a dollar for dollar match on my 401K right now more than a pay increase. I wish we had better medical fully paid by the company. I like what you said about professional pride, but I have a family and live by the bottom line. Most of my doubts and question arise from ignorance to the shipping industry. On the smaller boats you hear one thing or another, and you can not just call a company and ask how much are you paying. To break into the shipping it looks like the best way is the unions, but we have been born and bred to think unions are bad. That in itself is another obstacle. I was really just fishing for information. I am happy where I am and I am hopeful that my company will build some more unlimited vessels in the future. You get so many years and loyalty invested in one company it would be hard to leave that kind of security. Thanks for the comments