Military Sealift Command lockdown

I heard that the only reason this was done was because the military crew on ESL were having trouble getting liberty.
I’m not exactly sure what the situation has been, but this article about their sister ship came out a while back:

If you did ask them to choose between liberty or the cash cow, their response would be:
" let me think about it".

You can only take my homestead from my cold dead fingers.

“Cash talks,bullshit walks” is an old saying. Pretend you are at sea and drawing a check. Does suck when the gangway is open to some but not others.

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Golden handcuffs rule. If you haven’t saved money due to living beyond your means or unfortunate circumstances you’re gonna have to suffer at times. All of us have been there and done that. Spend the extra time making a plan so you don’t have to go thru this again is all the advice I got way back when. Misery loves company and it looks like there will be plenty of both for the next while. Another annoying cliche is, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. :smiley:

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It’s not about money maximization for most of us. On a typical ship I might have 20-30 deck dayworkers (sometime more). Of that maybe five might maximize their overtime opportunities while in port. Even underway it’s not unusual to have half the deck dayworkers not work overtime. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

MSC is different from commercial (no shit!) as a lot of people homestead several months to many years on the same ship. They manage this by choosing the ships that best fit them - for example a ship that’s homeported in Norfolk when they live in Norfolk. Many work eight to five Monday through Friday and don’t bother with overtime preferring to go home. When on deployments they work out leave rotations so they can go home. When the ship crews down for yard periods they take training and go on leave. That’s the model much of MSC functions under.

It actually has to be this way. MSC may only hire 123% (I think) of their required billets. So if every soul worked for four months then took one month off MSC would require 5/4 manning, or 125%. As you can see that won’t work. So MSC must have homesteading, by design, to man their ships.

Mariners count on liberty and leave in lieu of being relieved. MSC counts on people to take leave instead of being relieved. It’s symbiotic. (I’d argue it’s ultimately bad for MSC, the mariners and the taxpayer but I’ll skip that soapbox tirade for now.) Gangway-up strikes the heart of this business model and threatens to induce even shorter manning in an organization infamous for manning shortages.

That’s the main reason gangway-up blows.


From the prior posts, I thought the fact that the navy guys were allowed to go as they please, and MSC people couldn’t was the main beef. Well aware of crewing down and up with MSC. Scratch my head why anyone on the vessel would not seek overtime while aboard. If I am away from home,(or restricted from it) why am I here? It’s to make the most bucks while and when I can. Make the money while you are aboard. No sympathy for those that don’t take advantage of their situation. I know some homebodies in Norfolk play the system, not fond of that, but if they in fact don’t put the time in and are"disappointed" with the gangway thing that disrupted their gig, I feel no sorrow.

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They letting Reservists off to serve their Reserve obligations?

Please clarify your post Veracruz, I am slow sometimes.

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Does MSC still allow comp time in lieu of overtime? Used to you could almost have a normal life if you got relieved. MSC not getting liberty? Well that throws one of the few advantages of working there out the window. You can make it bearable with comp time, liberty and a pension at the end but take any of the three out of the equation and the only people you end up with are some weird homesteaders not fit for normal human contact.

That’s the catch. Many folks ARE home. Their homes are a few minutes or hours down the road. Lots of folks stay with MSC because they can be home while on a ship. I have lots of shipmates who moved their families to whatever port they frequent, or they met their spouse and started families around the ports they frequent.

Commercial deep sea is usually an either/or: either you are at home with family and enjoying a normal life OR you are underway making money. For many MSC mariners it’s: at home with family AND making money. The trade-off is you give up some of your money to see your spouse and kids at nights and weekends. Underway you give up some of your money to maintain the stamina to keep it up.

So if given a choice between time with family with good pay, or time away for family with better pay, many reasonable folks take the reduced pay. Wouldn’t you?

As I pointed out in my post, MSC is limited to how many employees it can hire. They legally can not hire enough people to man the ships without homesteading. If every mariner put in for four months on and one month off there would be a shortage of bodies. If you include required shoreside training, required shoreside medical and transport to a ship then the shortfall would be worse.

The system must have homesteading to function. Simple math. You can’t fill six holes with five plugs and expect the leaks to stop.

So we have why it sucks (going home is how people maintain the endurance to homestead), we have why homesteading is necessary (too many holes and not enough pegs). All we don’t have is a good reason why MSC mariners are treated any different than USN folks when it comes to COVID restriction.


I don’t disagree on several points you made.

No worries.

Some folks are in the Military Reserves for whatever branch of service they still want to maintain an affiliation with and some of these folks instead of doing drill weekends can opt to do a few stints a year in various capacity to fulfill the same obligation.

If some Reservists are on MSC vessels as Civmars, which I’m sure there are, I’m wondering if they are allowed to come off the ship and leave if they are called away to their Reservist duties. I could be wrong of course as I only have a vague idea of how this works on the Contract Mariner side so perhaps Civmar side has the notion of it is what it is…

The dayworkers who didn’t go ashore when the ship was moored were the same guys who turned down OT at sea on weekends. It was a younger crowd that preferred to spend evenings in port watching live TV and weekends at sea cycling through a selection of low brow movies. Headscratcher for me too.

Gotcha Veracruz. Kinda thought that was where you were going. Don’t know the answer to that question but hopefully the reservists on this site may answer that. Things are changing almost daily with this virus thing. My son is keeping up his obligations to the reserves, everything is way out of sorts. Still hasn’t been compensated for minute expenses from quite a while back in San Diego with a few pals.

The entire post is the best explanation I have heard regarding the current MSC situation or MSC in general for those unfamiliar.


Now that I’m gettin into this… overtime. Every year a certain amount of money goes to maintenance & repair overtime. That money isn’t unlimited. Every year as we get close to the end of the fiscal year that money runs out. I don’t recall there being a year when the money didn’t run out. When the money runs out the non-operational overtime stops.

Let’s say everyone did work every hour they could. If that were to happen the money would run out faster. To prevent that money from running out too fast the overtime would be reduced or restricted. (There’s nothing like telling the guys they can’t work underway!) The reality is the budget requires some people to not work some overtime one way or the other. It’s nice when some folks don’t want to work so I don’t have to cut off overtime to those who do want to work.

The above is a simplification of a complex beast but that’s the gist of it.


Gotcha DeckApe. So would it not be wise to get the OT as soon as possible? Slackers are fucked anyway. Pay the guys that give a shit while it’s in the budget. Then those cats can take the break the goofballs have been taking all along, but with a bit more cash.

Another aspect of the complex beast is this. There is no unlimited budget for parts and supplies. While at the shipyard working for another government agency I would share a G ride on occasion with a MSC guy going to town to pick up supplies. We went to Grainger Supply or other suppliers on more than one occasion to find one of our credit cards hadn’t been paid so one couldn’t buy what we needed that day. Luckily one of us always had some credit left so we traded. I’d buy some rags for him today and he’d get some O ring material for me next time.

Never thought of it that way since we never ran out of OT. In hindsight, I’m grateful for the TV watchers who made it possible for some of us to double our paychecks.

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I don’t know the answer to this, but know of one instance of the opposite. A guy from our office is in doing his hotel quarantine now to be sent to a MSC vessel for his active duty reserve time. Not sure what capacity he’s going as.

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