Military Sealift Command questions

It’s surprisingly hard to find clear information about MSC. I hope someone can answer a few questions I have.

  1. Will I be able to transfer to an AB from a supply utility man? I already have ab special from tugboats but not RFPNW or able seafarer deck.

  2. How are the rotations? I heard they increased the time off to two months.

  3. What sort of accommodations are there for communication with friends and family ashore? Is there internet available for use? Phones?

I appreciate any answers you all can give me as well as any other advice you may have.

  1. Yes you can transfer/switch from SU to AB. MSC will also pay for you to get all your basic credentials and STCW
  2. The rotations are 4/1 as it stands. I heard they are working on 4/2 but it’s not official yet.
  3. The accommodation depends on the class of the ship. For the most part you will have your own room on the AKE’s, tankers & oilers. You’ll only share a room on just a few ships but you get paid for sharing a room (about $1000/month extra). There are computers on the ship you can use and there telephones you can use to call home at no charge.
  1. As badly as MSC needs ABs you can not transfer from SU or from an OS without the Able Seafarer Deck STCW Endorsement. You can sail as an OS. However OS manning is well over 200%. So good luck with that. With the exception of Tugs and Puller Class, all of MSC ships have an abundance of OSs sailing as augments. So getting relieved on time, even without a relief, should not an be an issue.

  2. There are very little issues with SU rotations. Currently over 100% manning. If you are new, and while you do get 30 days off…your accrued leave will not cover 30 days so plan on being on leave without pay for some or most of your 30 days off.

  3. Berthing pay is $30 per day ($900-$930 per month) for ships like the Sub Tenders (There are 2) and the Hospital Ships (There are 2) but only if there or at least three to four to a room (Hospital Ships) or in open berthing, where you will find most of the Hospital Ship’s OSs…and a few other billets. Simply sharing a room does not generate Berthing Pay without the conditions specified within the MOU. NCOs and Officers will get a single rooms. All others will get shared rooms or will be berthed in assigned open Navy Berthing areas. This also includes female mariners.

A couple of the Puller Class will pay Berthing Pay for at least 2 SUs but not because that room is shared. It’s because that one room is tiny. Very tiny. Can’t say about the Mount Whitney though or those Fast Aluminum boats.

While Berthing pay is part of the MOU with the Union (SIU), which mentions the requirements for the Hospital ships by name, it does not cover the Puller class so Berthing Pay is only by expressed permission via shoreside. Paying berthing outside the MOU or without permission will generate an immediate audit…and plenty of troubles and headaches for the Ship’s Captain and Purser.

EDIT: " 1. What sort of accommodations are there for communication with friends and family ashore? Is there internet available for use? Phones?"

If you have Cell service you can communicate with friends and family ashore. At sea shared phones are available. Not always easy to get through. Internet is very, very slow.

You’ll have to share bandwidth with all the Facebook obsessed. Ship email is always (mostly) available for communication via the “Shared” ship computers. Most fun websites are usually blocked…except Facebook of course…which for some reason seemly works fine…so I’ve been told. Don’t personally have a Facebook account so I can’t personally qualify that observation.


Where are you getting the information that OS are manned at 200%? Not trying to discredit you or anything, just curious because I just received and accepted a conditional job offer as an OS.

The manpower reports are published to certain folks regularly. That number sounds plausible to me. That said, the office 100% ‘cooks the books’ to make the manpower numbers look good (or to further whatever they’re trying to achieve).

The only reason they’d be at 200% is to try to rapidly train up ABs, which they are in desperate need of. Unfortunately even given ample opportunity, most folks don’t have the drive to move up.

Perhaps staffing is up in the attempt to switch to the fabled 4 on 2 off schedule. Ideally the staffing needs to be well over 125% in order to be fully prepared in case shit hits the fan somewhere.

Try a FOIA request (eye opening) or ask your Department Head for manning information.