Mentoring By Old Salts

It’s been a number of years and more than a few miles, but there is likely some life and advice left in us “old salts” that may be of interest to the current, working generation. CMA Grad - Master’s license at 25 - Master’s berth on VLCC at 26 - Maser’s berth on LNGC at 34 - Been there, done that… both afloat and ashore… fair weather and foul…

Don’t want to interject, but won’t hesitate to offer opinions. The best decision I ever made was to chose CMA and the education it gave. I have never looked back; never thought otherwise. Now, two careers later I can honestly say that had it not been for that jump-start in life I would not be where I am now…

I can’t believe no one has responded to this thread yet. I’m extremely new on this forum, and just saw your post. I’m in my second year at CMA, as a MT major. Well, this summer is our commercial cruise, and I am having a tough decision. I know I want to work out in the ocean, but not sure what type of vessel. Container ship, tanker, general cargo type vessel, I just don’t know. Any suggestions on how to make the choice? or which company to go with to get the most experience?

For your commercial, you should go with a tanker. That way you can earn a PIC and when you graduate, have the option to sail on a ship that requires it

being a CMA grad, you know that most tankers go to the few on the list with the highest gpa. Currently my GPA is around a 3.4. With that being said, I was thinking MSC would be a good option, and hopefully get on a tanker with them. thoughts?

Back in the “good old days” when I was a cadet/midshipman at that “casual maritime academy” we didn’t have the opportunity to take cadet cruises on anything other than the school ship EXCEPT for those of us who took the initiative to arrange for ourselves what were called “shiftings”. We did these on weekends and holidays (there weren’t a lot of these in the what was then, 3 year program). Shiftings allowed us to take short cross harbor or coastwise trips on real merchant vessels. Those who were inclined to work on tankers usually arranged something with Chevron, Union Oil or similar. The freight folks made arrangements with Pacific Far East Lines, American President Lines, Matson Lines or similar. Back in those days we had a lot of choice - remember,“Vietnam” made seafarers in demand in the 1,000 ship Merchant Marine.

I wanted to work in the Civil Service so made trips on dredges working in and about the bay, and MSC ships on cross harbor moves. I also went across to Selby and stood watches with the mates on Mobil tankers, and on some Union Oil tankers. In those pre-9/11 days there was no TWIC, port security, etc. If we wanted to go aboard a ship to look around, ask questions, etc. we just identified ourselves as Keema Middies and they let us on.

I didn’t chose my career path while still a cadet although some did. Following graduation I worked on 7 hatch C3 freighters for American Export Isbrandtsen Lines, C2 (Victories) in the Vietnam sealift, and then went to work for Global Marine Drilling Company making deliveries in the Persian Gulf, South Africa, New Guinea, Western Australia and other places. Global Marine was operating the Glomar Challenger for the Deep Sea Drilling Project, and this lead to a position with Ocean Science and Engineering on the Alcoa Seaprobe.

So, five years into a career, and holding a Chief Mate’s license I took a Second Mate’s job on an Arco tanker, which after four months turned into a Chief Mate’s job while then holding a Master’s license. I sailed as Chief Mate with Arco for about 8 months or so.

In December of 1973 I was on vacation and taking it easy when, out of the blue, I received a telephone call from New York. The caller said “Captain, would you accept a Master’s berth on the Brooklyn…” I accepted and was told to be in Brooklyn Navy Yard in five days for sea trials.

Bottom line - I took every opportunity that was offered. I did not make my choices until I had “been there and done that”. On a couple of occasions I stepped back to a lower position, but always to gain experience not otherwise available. I never shied away from the opportunity for experience and to learn. I never did sail on a Civil Service vessel.

CMA was a great foundation for everything I have done in life. I was a shipmaster, a marine superintendent and port captain, a maritime executive and consultant.

Following the career at sea I worked in the public sector managing small craft harbors and governmental agencies. I am still going strong and managing country clubs and resort communities.

I could not have done any of this without CMA.

CMA also stood for “Can’t make Annapolis”. There were some from those east coast schools that would poke fun of CMA and the persons who came out of that left coast school. I can say without reservation or qualification that some of the best persons I ever sailed with came from CMA… and MMA… and KP… and TMA and the others. I can say without reservation or qualification that each of these schools also turned out many of far lesser quality and character.

Your education will be what you make of it. Your career will be what you make of it based on your education, training, background, and experience. Become a lifelong learner and you will succeed… I have no doubt…

Captain Kimo, Thank you for that write up. At this stage in my career/education, that’s exactly what I need to hear. I have no idea what I want to do after I graduate, and plan on taking every job opportunity that I can to figure it out. Again, thank you very much.
Jeremy Petru

You will most likely get a PIC if you commercial with MSC. almost always. If you end up with them after CMA, you don’t even need one…not even for tankers. It’s just an extra shining star on your resume…

just as an update: I will be sailing with MSC this summer, but I won’t be getting my PIC. I’m not shipping out until June 1st, so I don’t think I’ll be able to get my 90 days. I plan on getting enough loads and discharges, and then hopefully can make up the extra sea time somehow. The reason for the late ship out date is because I’m supposed to be the best man in my buddy’s wedding.

Congratulations on getting a good summer gig. Take full advantage of it. Observe and help out in as many evolutions as you can. Become an “expert”. Be a good shipmate. Practice the art, learn the science and you will be a great tankerman and seaman.

It’s a great calling!