Military to Mariner

Based upon what I hear, PNW pay is similar to NY, but typically higher than most places south of Sandy Hook.


I suppose I could have been more specific.

Living in Florida, Delaware, or NH and working the east coast would be cheaper than living/sailing on the west coast. Most tug companies actively looking for work I know of off hand on the east coast aren’t based in New England anyways. I’m not well versed in the price to live in NY/NJ outside of the city but I have enough friends living there that it must be tolerable otherwise they’d be in a more tax friendly state. MA, RI, and CT would probably be comparable to the west coast.

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I am not tied down to any where specific for a home base, nor am I tied down to responsibilities for wife and children. {have seabag ready to work}. However, yes the Southeast is home for me, and cheaper. And, Charleston,SC having direct flights to Seattle helps also. All options are on the table at this point.
On a side note; Considering certification for commercial diving as another skill also. So any divers wish to throw some advice this way, by all means.

I hear good things about Stevens Towing in SC. Good folks to work for, but I don’t know what they pay.

I think it would be very hard for you to find a job in Seattle calling from SC, but if you are on an icebreaker now, then you are based in Seattle. That will get some respect. You can find a job in Seattle.

They won’t fly you back and forth from SC to work short hitches in Puget Sound, but if you are ready for 60 to 90 day hitches to Alaska or Hawaii, then they will fly you.

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I see a lot of solid advice here. You may want to consider companies most overlook: Hopper Dredges. Manson, Great Lakes and Weeks have recently built or are currently building beautiful vessels to keep up with the demand. I know Manson has a clear path from AB to Mate. Working on deck isn’t for the timid, it is challenging and difficult work at times. These jobs have great schedules as well, most are 3 weeks on/3 off. As a mate most of your time is shiphandling in tight quarters; again, that is not for everyone. Many mates end up going on to become Pilots. Good luck!


Thank you for these. How important is it for a deck hand to know how to weld, burn and cut?

Not that important, but a good skill to have.

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I don’t know about burning but if a deck hand can weld and cut I would think that would be looked upon favorably. I was on a vessel at anchor and the weather just blew up. There was a problem with the winch and the captain called me to send a member of the engineering department to cut the chain. While I scrambled to free up someone a OS grabbed a torch we had stowed up forward and cut the chain. Instant promotion to AB. :slightly_smiling_face:


Dredging companies have to do a lot of on the spot repairs. Welding and cutting would be good skills to have for working at a dredging company.



This seems to be solid advice…everytime we land a light mudscow I look at the deckhands and they always seem to be happy. Both GLDD and Weeks have help ads posted…

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Stevens does some really interesting work but the pay is on the lower end of the wage scale for the east coast, similar to tug pay in the GOM. Good to get a foot in the door but go elsewhere as soon you can.

Signet Maritime may be a good fit for the OP as well and they have great equipment. From what I have heard a military transition to working at Signet would be fairly easy compared to some other outfits.

Whatever route you choose, good luck!

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It helps to have those skills of running a torch and welding. But if you have the right attitude your shipmates will teach you they basics. Like many things experience is best.

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Our company has a no welding policy on the boat. Not saying it doesn’t get done but they aren’t actively looking for it in their hiring process…

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A lot of tug and barge companies have no welding polices. I have generally found that companies that have no welding polices, usually have a lot of other stupid polices and want to micromanage. I never enjoy working for those types of companies.

Most of the companies that I work for expect the crew to do some welding. Sometimes there is quite a bit of it. For example, welding D-rings to the deck of a barge to lash rolling stock and break bulk cargo.

We were talking about dredging companies.They look for welders. They do a lot of welding.

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Yes, a lot of companies, specifically oil transport outfits have a no weld policy. Many others don’t. Welding and cutting is an asset on your resume A good AB is worth his/her weight in gold anyway… That they can cut and weld is more than welcome.


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Some hiring managers place a lot of weight on non-maritime skills and credentials. Any skill that might come in handy at some point is a bonus.

We had a guy on a MSC ship who had worked as a commercial painter. The captain was so stoked by the nice job he did of painting the bridge using professional spray gun equipment when we were in the yard that he promoted him immediately from bosun mate to bosun. On a dredge, a guy who can weld is valuable.


Considering there are less and less boats running around with tier -4 engines (at least on the west coast), the no welding policy has to do a lot with accidentally frying the ecms/ecus on the newer generation engines commonly found after repowers.
Yes, not too complicated to secure these flux capacitors, but its just one less fuck up/expense to worry about, until you absolutely need to make a repair.

That needs a don’t unlock the welder until the flux capacitor is secured policy. Also, a big vice that is electrically isolated from the boat.

We don’t normally do much welding on the boat itself, unless it’s a project.