Kinda dumb question about uniforms

I got out of the navy a little while ago and I saw something that madee wonder. I saw some guys wearing what looked like officers uniforms for the navy but had merchant marine caps. I believe. It was very bizarre. Anyway what caught me was the lack of military badges but the same uniforms. Like I said I was navy so I know the officers uniforms quite well. I was wondering what’s the deal with the merchant marines uniform. Is this just for who goes to the academy I would assume or is it a uniform a specific shipping line issues. Does anyone with an mmc have the right to walk around in one of these uniforms? I just found it odd when I saw them

What uniform was it exactly? It might have been some MSC officers if your are writing about khaki…

I’m a civilian deck officer for NOAA. I wear Khaki.

it was the usual military dress blues, double breasted with a black combination cap with a merchant marine insignia, cuff rank markings but not the usual star of the navy on the cuffs. It just seemed weird, like it was almost a navy uniform but not quite. just curious if this is standard merchant marine wear that any licensed captain or whatever could wear or if there is some other service im’ not aware of. like i said it just caught my eye after being in the navy as being like someone was wearing half a navy uniform kinda thing.

Where were these guys walking? On some vessel? Ashore? You have come upon one of the quirks of the merchant marine! Almost anyone can ‘call’ themselves a Captain. With a little sleuthing on the internet they can find out how many bars they have ‘earned’ and can go to any uniform shop and buy an outfit befitting their perceived ‘position.’

I would not be surprised if you saw a couple yacht club admirals out for a stroll in their yacht club uniforms! Putting on the dog as it were! But then again, it could have been an actual Captain wearing what he wears at work.

Myself, I wear Khaki’s at work. No insignia, just Khaki’s. I have seen several guys who go to Mil surplus stores and buy the navy issue sweaters, and the Bars and make their own uniform. Some guys feels it will make them seem more ‘in charge’ at least to the uninitiated or ignorant. The merchant marine is a lot less year and rank oriented than the military. You can have the license, but if you can’t do the job, putting in years and filling a billet does not qualify one to move up (or stay there.) I have found the insignia does NOT make the man, but the man who successfully fills the post does not need an insignia to show it.

Officers and crew on cruise ship, ferries and so forth that carry passengers usually wear uniforms.

You’re probably used to seeing the star under the stripes on the double breasted jacket for Navy officers. Merchant Marine officers have an anchor there instead. Hell, I worked on one of those cruise ships that Kennebec mentioned and even the hotel manager had a uniform with stripes. But the stripes were silver and the emblem was a crossed fork and knife. Crap you not.

Coming from the passenger vessel industry, I’ve seen it on pretty much every passenger vessel I’ve seen. Some smaller, more casual boats (eco tours, small party boats, etc) stick to khakis and polos, but most of the more upscale dining/ charter boats tend to wear black and whites with epaulets, a more dressy appearance to fit the environment you are trying to create. I only wore the jacket and cap when performing weddings…or the few days it actually gets chilly in Florida. One of the main purposes is because the fact that you have passengers on board, so there is distinguishable people to listen to in the event of emergencies and the like.

To be honest, navy was the 3rd on the list I’d be mistaken as. When we spent a summer in Boston we had to take the subway back to our apartments, changing to or from a bus at the airport, so I got asked what airline a flew for a lot. Second on the list was valet parking attendant.

they were just walking around. i really don’t know anything about the merchant marines, i just couldn’t imagine there being a standard uniform like the military for something your not enlisted in. i totally understand the idea of being in uniform on a cruise type ship or something in order to distingush someone as crew etc. but i just found it odd why they woudl be walking around like they were sight seeing. but qestion answered. I actually work at a marina where there is a yacht club and know about people dressing up as the “commodore” alllllllllllllllllllllllllllll to well.

It could have been some cadets from a maritime academy. You didn’t mention the age of the individuals but the description of the uniforms sounds like dress blues. I know that when I was a cadet, all travel was supposed to be in uniform. There was many a time that I was approached by folks in airport asking airline questions. . . .

Oh, and just for the sake of one of my pet peeves, there are no “merchant marines”, but their are “merchant mariners”.

Here is a picture of the KP dress blues:

The short answer here is – yes. There is an official merchant marine uniform. To go into more detail - It is similar to the navy uniform as mentioned earlier, with the anchor in place of the naval star. Whether it is worn on the ship or not is at the direction of the ship operator. All merchant mariners are documented and rated or licensed by the United States Coast Guard. Every time a mariner joins a ship, he signs the Ship’s Articles and is bound to the ship for the length of the articles unless released by the captain early. This is an enlistment. Violations of duty are dealt with by the Coast Guard or in an admiralty court. Though the organization may seem lax due to the lack of uniforms, there is still a military type hierarchy. Uniforms are rarely worn off ship, usually for formal dinners, weddings, and public ceremonies. The reason few recognize the merchant uniform today is because our merchant marine has shrunken to a disastrously low level due to the outsourcing to flags of convenience that started in WW II. With only 200 ships left, most people in our country today have never even met a merchant mariner.

[QUOTE=Tier 7;56962]The short answer here is – yes. There is an official merchant marine uniform. To go into more detail - It is similar to the navy uniform as mentioned earlier, with the anchor in place of the naval star. Whether it is worn on the ship or not is at the direction of the ship operator. All merchant mariners are documented and rated or licensed by the United States Coast Guard. Every time a mariner joins a ship, he signs the Ship’s Articles and is bound to the ship for the length of the articles unless released by the captain early. This is an enlistment. Violations of duty are dealt with by the Coast Guard or in an admiralty court. Though the organization may seem lax due to the lack of uniforms, there is still a military type hierarchy. Uniforms are rarely worn off ship, usually for formal dinners, weddings, and public ceremonies. The reason few recognize the merchant uniform today is because our merchant marine has shrunken to a disastrously low level due to the outsourcing to flags of convenience that started in WW II. With only 200 ships left, most people in our country today have never even met a merchant mariner.[/QUOTE]

I believe that the “offical” uniform is assigned to the United States Maritime Service, created to train officers in the US Merchant Marine. In that regard, it really only exists at KP and the other State academies.

As far as most folks in our country never meeting a merchant mariner, I would certainly have to agree. I spend quite a bit if time in the midwest for my “side job”. One of the things that I like about it is that there is a whole lot of traveling to be done before one sees salt water. When I tell folks that I used to go to sea, or was a merchant mariner, I get strange looks (okay, I get them anyway, but on with my point). I then get the usual comment about being in the Navy and I tell them no, and then just simplify it and say that I used to work on boats. It is also very difficult to get them to relate what we, as merchant seamen consider commonplace. But such is life.

[QUOTE=Tier 7;56962]…Violations of duty are dealt with by the Coast Guard or in an admiralty court. [/QUOTE]

An “admiralty court” is only involved years after the fact, in a civil lawsuit, and the suit is rarely, if ever, brought against a mariner. It is not a disciplinary or court martial type proceeding. Also, there are no admiralty courts. The term is misused to refer to a federal court exercuising its constitutional power to hear maritime cases. In the past, federal courts dedicated specific days to hearing admiralty cases, and posted a silver oar outside the court room to indicate maritime cases were being heard. This hasn’t been tjhe case for a long time.

For the eleven years that I sailed, I wore a uniform for five and none for the other six that I sailed on tankers. As I retired over twenty-five years ago my information is somewhat dated. I attended a formal dinner back in 2003 of past and present mariners (all officers) and I was one of the few who did not wear a uniform. I live in north central Mass. and though Mass. has a long maritime history, no one in this region knows what the merchant marine is either. A few years ago I wrote a book about my experiences as a new officer in the merchant marine, and that is the extent of the local knowledge of the service.

Didn’t that sea hag/ maritime admiral during the gulf spill have some homemade uniform on?? She was @ one of those town meetings & I think she was mentioned on here

You are probably used to seeing the star under the stripes on the double breasted jacket for Navy officers. Merchant Marine officers have an anchor there instead. Hell, I worked on one of those cruise ships that Kennebec mentioned and even the hotel manager had a uniform with stripes. But the stripes were silver and the emblem was a crossed fork and knife. Crap you not.
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I wear a T-shirt and shorts, sometimes jeans when I’m on deck. I guess that’s my uniform… :confused:

For years we didn’t wear uniforms, but did have boiler suits. There was a desire in the Office for us to look more professional to SIRE, USCG, ABS, and such in port, because sometimes you couldn’t tell the Chief Engineer from the Wiper. This led to adopting of a uniform to use in port.

We also went to standardized boiler suits, so each engineer didn’t have a different ship name or company on his back. I personally dislike boiler suits, so I still am usually in a denim shirt and jeans.

Initially there was a lot of push back, like there was when hard hats became required, or long sleeves and long pants, etc., but since they don’t have to pay for them, they’ve gotten over it pretty quickly.