Okay, I just registered on gcapt’s forum and I am bound to strike a nerve with many with the following question. Most of my vessel experience is with 24 years in the USN, however, I have three years experience as a 200 ton lift boat captain in the GOM. What I am really interestede in however, is to break in to the towing industry as a mate of towing or pilot. I know this new 30 day wonder thing rubs a lot of the old towing guys the wrong way but we all have to start somewhere and believe it or not guys, there are a lot of talented vessel operators out there. I am familiar with the new USCG rules that came out in the fall of '08. What I am in search of is a company, or companies who are willing to open thier doors to a 200 ton captain to work his way up to mate of towing and, eventually a MOTV. Any advice?
Okay, I guess maybe the “30 day wonder” rule must really be a bad subject on this forum, either that, or no one truely can answer my question from 5 days ago concerning mate of towing jobs.
I appreciate the info Mike. The web site you referred to was actually where I found the one on which we are posting these messages. Just for the heck of it, I went on Crosby towing ( out of the southern LA. area ) which is a fairly large outfit in Louisiana. I e-mailed a gal by the name of Karen who apparently does the hiring and asked her if they or any one she knew of would be willing to hire a 200 ton near coastal captain with 27 years experience on every thing from Navy cruisers to lift boats, for the “30 day wonder” program in order to break out as a mate of towing. She went on to say that she was sorry she could not help me and that due to the “sensitive” nature of the type of work Crosby towing co. is involved in, that they only hire “experienced” tug captains/pilots. That seemed to me to be a re-structured way of saying " we in the towing industry are angry as it is that the USCG would try to open the door for non-towing endorsed mariners to become mate (and eventually master ) of towing vesels without coming up through the hawse pipe of a towing vessel, why should we waste our time with you generic mariners". That is the sense that I am getting from all of this. You can plainly read it on the major towing web sites. The “gate keepers” are standing guard.
I hear what you are saying but I disagree with your conclusion. I think the labor crunch these companies were recently experiencing has lessened in severity so they are not as desperate for personnel. In addition I think all towing companies are under severe scrutiny from several regulatory agencies as well as the public given the latest round of incidents. Add to that the fact that towing/pushing a barge or being tethered to a 40,000 ton ship is totally different than driving a boat and takes a lot of time to experience all the different scenarios you might face as a mate or master. Also, as a mate on a towboat you are expected to be able to stand your own watch; so in essence, you need to be nearly as capable as the Master. Do you think a tug Master, Anchor Boat Captain, or an Unlimited Master of a cruise ship or freighter should take a destroyer into battle or a minesweeper into a mined harbor after only 30 days training? Now having said all this, I also believe that there are many individuals out there that are more than capable of learning the “ropes” very quickly and would be a great asset to whichever company is willing to hire them. The bottom line is that these companies don’t need to pay to train someone when they have deckhands that are hungry and willing to work their way up thru the hawsepipe.
If you truly want to make the transition to tugs, don’t give up. If I have learned one thing in this business it is the fact that job opportunities are all about timing; being in the right place at the right time.
Thank you for understanding my frustration and allowing me to blow off some steam. All of your points are very well taken and I appreciate your candor. I’ll keep plugging away.