Hawsepipe or academy?

Which one is better in your opinion? Hawsepipe or academy?..
Also, Engineer or deck? i’m just weighing my options here. i don’t know much about the industry, so i’m trying to figure things out. thanks.


Well, I’d say academy and deck.

But if I could do it all again I’d probably say academy and engine.

There might be some other opinions out there though…

depends if you need money,or want to spend money.

school= fun, girls, and spending money

work= no gilrs, learning how it really is out here , and making money

i would come out here and work a few hitches before you spend all that money and years in school to find out you dont like being in close quarters , never seeing your family, or you will find out you like seeing the sun rise and set over the water, you like feeling part of a crew and your grandkids will take your pics to show and tell and say my granddad is a Mariner.

One of the few industries where you can honestly say it doesn’t matter. But, I will say this - There are certain HR vice presidents that prefer one over the other - depending on their own background. Flip a coin. I have seen it work both ways.

Thanks for the insight. i think i’m going with the deck option. still haven’t decided on the academy or not. but if i was to go to an academy which one would be best. i’m currently looking at maine maritime academy for my education. anymore insights?

Fort Schuyler!

If I knew this is what I was meant to do I would have gone to school. At least there you come out with a degree in something that can be used to get a job shore side job somewhere if you ever decide to get off the water.

A friend of mine recently said he was asked by someone about becoming an engineer on a ship. This potential engineer asked if he should go to a maritime school or start up the pipe. My friend said, “Go get a plumbers license or go be an air conditioning guy. It’s the same shit at sea or land. You gotta do an apprenticeship for a few years, you gotta study to get the master plumber’s or AC license and when you do you’ll make good money. If you don’t believe it, call a plumber or air conditioning guy out to your house. A good licensed plumber or AC man makes more a year than any sailor, plus you go home at night, don’t have to deal with the USCG or need a damn TWIC. People are going to flush their toilets and stay warm or cool so you got your job security. You can see the world when you go on vacation.”

If you are 17 or 18 years old graduating high school. I would say Academy. IF you are 28 with kids, I would say hawsepipe. If I had to do it all over again, I would have went to an academy and it would always be deck. That is an easy choice.

If I had to choose for my son, I would probably choose SUNY or Maine. The guys I have met from those two schools have been top notch.

The way the indusrty is becoming these days (more and more endorsements and hoops to jump through) an academy is the best way to get all of the paperwork you need to be able to work. Also you will come out with a Bachelors degree which will serve you well for he rest of your life, no matter what you decide to do. Academy is also a lot of fun. Lots of work, but also very fun and rewarding.

That being said, coming up through the hawespipe will provide you with better hands on experience and give you a better understanding of a specific job. Not to mention you will be making money the entire time.

Depending on your age, an academy would probably be best if you are still in high school. As far as which one, well that depends on several things. If your grades are good and you think you can qualify, KP would be a good choice for financial reasons alone. Of course State schools also offer ROTC programs. Now, I may be a little biased since I am a KP engineer, but I think that KP can produce a better rounded officer (I explain below).

I can say that the process in getting to KP can take a year or more. I started the ball rolling during my junior year of high school.

When deciding between a state school or KP, you also have to consider your tolerance for a military lifestyle. While all of the schools have a military themed discipline regimine, it is taken more seriously over at KP.

As far as which school is best, I know and have worked with grads from all the academies and can say that they all can produce fine, professional mariners. They can all also produce some real duds. But that is much the same as anything, including the hawsepipe. Without a school ship, however, the KP cadet program, I feel, offered more real world exposure to the maritime world. But I went through back in the 70’s when there were quite a few shipping companies and ships to get out on, and not as much cadet time gained in MSC or other fleets.

As far as the choice between deck and engine; well by my personal experience, I haven’t had that much trouble getting a job shoreside in the industry. But, again, that is largely dependent on attitude.

Good luck, no matter which way you go. I think that I have stated elsewhere on this forum (possibly even this thread) that having gone through a sea going period in my career made me what I am today, for good or bad. I am also very glad that I had the opportunity to do it. There is truly nothing like it.


If interested in an State Maritime Academy - feel free to go to our folder on this site or to either our Academy’s website/Twitter page for info.

Feel free to email me if you have questions.

I wish you well,


Review the CG’s proposed rule changes where liscensing is concerned. The days of the hawsepiper are all but over. Although there is still a path up from the deck, I doubt there is little difference in cost and time, compared to attending an academy. And here’s the big one- once licensed, the addition of a college degree will take you further professionally, should you ever decide to transition ashore. There are exceptions, but they are few and becomming much farther between. For the record, I came up through the hawsepipe.

deck. Maine.

A few years ago there was some hearsay going around the oilfield that some university (I can’t remember which one specifically) had a program that would give you some sort of degree (Bachelors of Marine Science or something?) if you had a 1600 ton masters license or better. And of course for a fee…

I’m thinking it was probably a bunch of BS. I never looked into it to see if it was true… Has anyone else here heard a similar story?