Looking at ways to get into the industry -Relief

Hi all,

I am a 47 year old male leaving behind law enforcement afer 23 years. I have been looking at ways to get into the industry for a new 10 or 20 year career, and the pros and cons of it. It seems a big con would be not getting relieved when your tour is over is a big problem? I would have to say that would probably drive me nuts.

What are schedules like. All companies do different ones? 30 on 30 off etc? 6 months on 6 months off?. Paid weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, tours?

I have Mitags option for 38 k for 2 years or SIU for free for 1 year. I have zero experience and want to see the world for free i figure since my current means of support dont condone such things. I have been on 5 cruises over time and love being on the water. Its an amazing feeling knowing your going somewhere you have never been.

Any insights into what I may be heading for is great.

Thanks in advance.

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Those are not at all equivalent.

Correct. That’s the answer to every question in that paragraph.

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It’s less amazing going to the same shitty places over and over again with very little time to see any of them.

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Going to sea commercially is nothing like you think it is.

Why don’t you try employment in yachting to see the world?

I cannot understand why anyone would waste a year of their time going to Piney Point SIU school in this current good job market to come out as an OS.

Just get a job as an OS tomorrow and start collecting a salary and accumulating seatime. An OS starting out at a typical $250 a day for 180 days in his first year earns at least $45,000.

Plus, with only four months of seatime you can become an AB OSV, at higher pay, and then upgrade with more seatime through AB Special, AB Limited, and AB Unlimited without ever taking another USCG exam.

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Assuming you have a pension and no dependents I’d get my Mmc and go to work. Join a union if you want and try it out…

I came from being a career firefighter. I was 40 when I went to SUNY.

SUNY has “two year” programs for both deck and engine that are excellent.

Both will get you a well paying job.

I decided to do tugs. I am captain now. I probably have a couple of years left in me before I pack it in.

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Thank you for some positivity on the out look from someone else who was in the same boat as me haha. Before I delve to far. What is advantage or disadvantage of doing tugs vs cargo ships?

It’s been debated many times on here. For me tugs made sense because I had a house, mortgage, and a family. My kid was little when I started this journey. Tugs offer shorter hitches than ships. My present tug is never more than 2 hours away from my house. I am never more than a mile from land. Generally good cell coverage on my route. Most tugs on the east coast work 14 on 14 off rotation. There are many variations. Ideally on a good tug you work 180 days a year. There is almost always the opportunity to “work over” meaning working in excess of your hitch. I made just shy of 180K last year at a mom and pop. That number can vary by company, tug and barge size and union. That is roughly what a second mate makes on ship.

If I was single in my 20s again I would be doing ships again. Most ships are a 3 month hitch minimum. You will sail all over the world, however you will usually not get off the ship. Ships require and “unlimited” license which will require a 4 years stint at an academy. It would not be worth it for you to sign on in an unlicensed capacity. You will not be fulfilled chipping and painting all day and standing gangway watches.

If you can hack the math I suggest you become a marine engineer. You will never be out of work. Chief and Asst engineer on a tug is a very nice gig and the chief only makes slightly less than the master or captain.

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I’ve worked on tugs when I was younger but work on deepsea ships now. Wire- boats on the west coast can be brutal on your body. Not just the work but the weather. Whereas ATBs in the gulf in terms of weather and physical work is much less. I know there are older guys that are in great shape and I’m not saying you can’t do it. But evaluate yourself and think 10-20 years down the road.
Some tough work keeps guys young. With others it breaks them down fast.

There are all types of tugs and offshore workboats so it depends on what you want to do.

Knowing this is a second career for you. If I were in your shoes I would ride the wave in the oil patch and explore all types of boats down there.

This is great info. My background is kinda different. I will be going solo at 47. I have been married 13 years. I also have a 13 yo son. Due to circumstances that cannot be fixed i have decided to leave the family. I have been a nomad with regards to my career in law enforcement since the year 2000. 3 different jobs with different agencies. 1 10 year retirement coming my way eventually but thats it. I want to make a lot of money and go places even on my own dime before i die. I will not be able to do that with my job now. So the math yeah forget it. I cant even help my son. I had been planning on trying for a 3rd mate license from Mitags. But with this info on tugs. I dont know. Is it all same schooling you just have to pick tugs or ships right? Onr direction or the other.

And i would say I am physically fit for the job. 510 185 lbs. The sea will toss me around i bet. Only experience is 5 cruises haha when times were good! But i have been thinking of this now for a few months and now i may just have to go for it. I have appt to get twic. Mmc is a physical exam and drug test by coast guard right? 50,000 for the year sadly doesnt cut it with my current job. I will also will be based out of the Atlanta Ga area

You don’t normally do not get to get off in ports like the old days. Even on the tugs getting “up the street” is harder and harder.

Ships give you more time off.

What you should take away from this is that you want to become an officer. The entry level positions are less pay and these jobs have a lot of turnover. That means school.

at the SUNY “two year” program you take the exact same exam as the unlimited 4 year cadets. The only difference is the seatime they provide you. You can raise in grade to an unlimited license with seatime only. You can get that by working as a AB on an unlimited ship or as a mate on an OSV. Or you can do the four years in an academy.

At your age I would avoid the hawsepipe route. You might be retired before you get the seatime you need.

The physical exam is done by your doctor or health professional. You even get to pay for it.
If you don’t have a primary care doctor willing to do it, look for places that do DOT physical for truckers, especially driver friendly physicals. Do not pay more than $100. When you call around simply say you need a physical and have your own form. Do NOT say Coast GuarYou don’t normally do not get to get off in ports like the old days. Even on the tugs getting “up the street” is harder and harder.

Ships give you more time off.

What you should take away from this is that you want to become an officer. The entry level positions are less pay and these jobs have a lot of turnover. That means school.

at the SUNY “two year” program you take the exact same exam as the unlimited 4 year cadets. The only difference is the seatime they provide you. You can raise in grade to an unlimited license with seatime only. You can get that by working as a AB on an unlimited ship or as a mate on an OSV. Or you can do the four years in an academy.

At your age I would avoid the hawsepipe route. You might be retired before you get the seatime you need.

The physical exam is done by your doctor or health professional.If you do not have a primary doctor to do it for you, look for places that do DOT physicals. When you call around just say physical exam for your job and you will bring your own form. If you say US Coast Guard physical or Merchant Marine physical you will confuse them. They will think it’s like a FAA flight medical that requires a certified doctor. Print out a 719-K and fill out everything that applies to you and bring it with.

In theory you can do the drug test on your own. However people report that it’s difficult to deal with Metpath and Quest type places as an individual. You might be able to get a properly worded letter from your present department saying that you are subject to random urinalysis and that you have never refused a test. If you have the receipt from a recent test you can send that in. What I usually advise new guys to do is just get a membership at drugfreevessel.com, captain’s consortium or similar outfit, shop for price. They will arrange the test and provide you with the letter you need.

Years ago I found a place right in my town run by a PA. She had a lock on all the volunteer fire department physicals, fitness testing etc. She does my physicals and used to do my urinalysis. Now my company does it. It was called Tek Occupational health. you can look for a similar place in your area.

With all that said, if you end up at a school. They will do all of this stuff for you, except getting a TWIC. SUNY has a doctor come to the campus one day a week to crank out 719-k’s and they have plenty of printers to provide you with letters. They literally do it for a living.

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THIS! I always felt older cadets have been better than the younger ones. They are a lot more mature and trustworthy.
I was always unsure about how I felt about the two-year program originally thinking it was a fast and cheap way for people to get their licenses that would blow by a lot of essential material to be a mariner. After sailing with some SUNY two-year grad guys my viewpoint changed, drastically. Those guys have to take all the classes just in a shorter amount of time forcing them to be buckled down and serious. They value their time more than a young 19-year-old just looking to pass a class and party.

However, it is geared toward unlimited deepsea, so I’m not sure how I would feel about a SUNY 2-year deck guy getting on a tug as I think they wouldn’t have time to take tug and barge and workboat classes (I still prefer Maine Maritime guys for tugboats).

Since you live in Atlanta. I suggest that you apply for your Twic card and MMC right now, then drive to Louisiana and go door to door at the boat companies looking for a job. You could work as a deckhand on under 100 ton boats, on a tug, crewboat, utility boat, or mini supply boat without an MMC. I’m sure there are small companies that don’t give a damn about the Twic cards

This would put you on a boat right away and give you a taste of what the working 14/14 or 28/28 or 28/14 work life balance is like and some seatime. It would also put you in close proximity to several inexpensive schools and a lot of information.

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I was a SUNY grad that went directly to tugs. It was 5 years before I got into the wheelhouse. It could have been shorter but I was a tankerman and the company was short that position at the time. So I was kind of stuffed down the hawsepipe. I actually had to leave for another company to get “my shot.”

At any company worth their salt they do not throw freshly minted mates into the wheelhouse directly. There is “usually” some kind of decking or a training program.

I have always said that the license and the TOAR are just the beginning of your training.

FYI the SUNY program is actually geared towards tugs. You have to take the tugs and towing classes and observe on real tugs as part of the classes. Unfortunately the school does not have it’s own tug for training anymore.

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Absolutely. I should have been more specific saying the VOT Maine maritime program because they have have 2-3 summers of being on deck through their internships making and breaking tow etc. Therefore less on deck training is needed so a transition to training in the wheelhouse is usually faster and smoother. But yes doesn’t matter where you go any one can learn and be successful anywhere they choose.

Absolutely. A lot of the industry is job specific who can you need to learn through on the job training.

That’s a big loss they need to get a tug back. Most of the US maritime industry is tugs.

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So what would be the hawespipe route? If i was 20 again I would go for deck no problem. I am not sayijg im lazy and trying to get into a cushy gig more so looking to save my body physically so i can work longer. I have no problem putting in sweat and tears for the end game at my age. I can run with the best of them haha. Every job i have been at is the “seniority based , you need to put in your time” kind of way. Mostly the bridge would be fascinating to me. Doing the coordinates, looking at weather, traffic, birthing. Etc.

So yeah thanks for all the tips. I am moving next week to Atlanta. So im not set in stone but applying to Mitags would give someone aspiring to be on the bridge a good chance of doing that within 5 years maybe and putting in some runs as AB you say?

The expression hawsepipe means you sign onto a ship with no training as an Ordinary Seaman then you chip rust, paint, clean stuff, remove trash, strip and wax decks all day. Then when you do this for 540 days you can become an able seaman. Pretty much doing the same stuff, except you get gangway watches, lookout and helm duties.

When you have 1080 days of seatime you are eligible for 3rd mate. You spend about 42K in schools and sit for the USCG exam.

This process takes 6-8 years. Depending on schedule, hitch rotation etc.

This is a paraphrase synopsis. The times, numbers and costs may not be accurate and will likely increase in the coming years. If you search around you can probably find real world accounts of this from people that did it.