Just graduated 3rd mate - start as AB or mate?

i’m a january grad and in the market for work, i have a friend working for sante fe, though an engineer he likes it, and some on tugs. i’m not sure which way to go, theres the DPO on rigs, or small vessel captains on tugs which can be obtained faster than the unlimited. i would say i am more skilled in “the books” as a mate on the training ship told me, not great at marlinespike seamanship, but i can do it, but great at navigation. also, i hear differing opinions on wether to start as an AB or a mate… i don’t care about getting dirty or making slightly less money, i’m wondering if the experience you get working alongside other AB’s is really much better than that of a mate?

Argo-Why can’t you work alongside other AB’s as a 3rd Mate? If I could get on as a 3rd Mate I would start there. As a 3rd Mate you will be supervised at all times anyway. You should anyway. There are lots of benefits to working on the deck before being in the wheelhouse, but being in the wheelhouse doesn’t mean you can’t go on the deck. We just got a 3rd AE from Maine maritime and he is doing well here. He has some other buddies he graduated with that are not so happy on smaller vessels with less horsepower. If you are interested in OSV’s let me know and I can point you in the right direction. Sante Fe would be a great place to start. Not to long ago Polar tankers were looking for some thirds on rigzone.com Regardless, you should do what you think fits best for you.

Nothing wrong with going out as an AB then move up to Mate, especially if it’s on the same vessel, at least you’ll know policy and bridge layout well before you stand your first mate watch. Although Lee is right that you “should be” supervised/broken-in as a new 3rd mate, it doesn’t always happen that way. In fact, if a AB opportunity presents itself and has upward mobility I would recommend you do go this route as it can’t hurt.

Also, If you AB first once you are a Mate you’ll be a better supervisor to the AB/OS’s because you’ll have a better understanding of what they are doing or suppose to be doing WRT to procedure, safety and all that.

I don’t believe there is a right way or a wrong way. Your choice will likely be governed by who is interested in hiring you.


THere are definiate benefits to working on deck first. This is epecially true in slow times when you can get on a ship on deck and prove yourself. Knowing the ship, equipment and routine is a huge advantage when it comes to you first ever bridge watch as mate. I found I got a lot more respect from the guys who worked for me when you can actually show them how to do all the tasks on deck proficiently. A few months on deck has served me well through my career. Bu tdon’t pass up that Third Mate job to do it. Like Cat Lee says, there’s no reason you can’t get out there adn do that stuff as a third mate. Good Luck and Smooth Sailing


3rd MATE - 3rd A/E

thanks, for some reason i didnt think much that i could still go out on deck as a mate and not be in the bridge all the time.

cant ship out right now tho as my physical somehow disappeared and i resent it delaying my license a few weeks…


Start off as a Mate we worked our asses off for our licenses. All of you that say we shouldn’t your just jealous you cant be on the bridge.

If yer thinking tugs then it’s an odds on favorite you’ll be starting as an AB out on deck UNLESS you’ve got SCADS of boat handling experience. While nothing is absolute I see NO tug company in NY Harbor putting you in the wheelhouse to start. If yer hungry fer the wheel, you’ll stay in the Captain’s back pocket when HE’s in the wheelhouse and you’ll pump the Mate you work for fer any information he/she is willing to impart.

JT sends

well im coming close to an end of the hunt, most companies have few 3/M openings and theres competition, and there arent even that many AB spots. I think I’m gonna go with Transocean since they’re a good company and have good service, plus they’re actively recruiting me. I’m in Houston now in their 3 day program, though everyone else I’ve met is a tool-pusher, roustabout, or electrician, all nice guys.

Maybe its just me but I think we might be coming to the peak of the hiring market and soon going down, at least deck side. Unless its somewhere besides the GOM

and i’ve tried a bunch of companies, edison chouest, crowley, jray mcdermott, mcallister, superior, hornblower, and seacor. i’ll probably get a call sometime in the future, but even so it’s slooooow, or is it normally like this? its basically been a month.

Yeah, it is. You need experience, just keep on trying it will work out.

Start as a mate on a working ship with AMO. DPO is good but you really need underway experience first, it’ll help you down the line to have underway time under your belt.

good news at the interview today, though i did the process (physical, medical) for an AB Seaman the recruiter was able to put me in on a 14/14 as an ADPO!!! Next week I’m going down to Louisiana for the TOPS school.
Transocean has 4 new ships coming out from Korea at the end of the year, 3 ships and 1 subsea I think, so thats around 1000 jobs right there.

Welcome aboard and good choice. As an ADPO take the time to get off the Bridge and learn the ship inside and out, including the roustabout and drilling side, and the Ab duties. Once they find you a permanent home as a DPO (Third Mate), you’ll be stuck on the Bridge for 12 hours a day until you make Chief Mate.

<P>Congratulations! I’m in agreement with Orniphobe, get off the Bridge and learn the ship. The experience will be valuable. Get involved if you are going to stick with that part of the industry. It will keep you from looking like a fool when you get to Chief Mate/Master. One should always know his work environment.</P>