Axelrod, this reply comes a little late–I just got off my ship on a “LOA”, or leave of absence. I joined her on the 26th of October, when you posted. So now an applicant, a Maine Maritime man, will make excellent money for his 42 day relief tour as 3/M on an excellent ship, with excellent officers and crew. There is no reason why a young mariner shouldn’t seriously consider MM&P; depending on your shore base you will stay afloat by working as a P.R.O. NY/NJ, Charleston, San Juan, and Houston have pretty steady work (I can’t speak from direct experience of the West Coast or Honu), but you need to have transportation to the terminals (which is compensated). Alternatively, with the MSC courses in your quiver there is work at slightly lower pay, but valuable sea-time and experience. The health benefits are unmatched, as far as I know, and once you get 30 days’ seatime you’re eligible for attendance at the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies. Talk it out with friends in the industry. Look at www.bridgedeck.org for more info regarding the Organization and Inland/Offshore policy. Personally, I never considered any other deep-sea option. I worked too hard, for too many years, to be here; I wouldn’t have myself marginalized by substandard pay and no representation. The companies know what they’re doing and they know they’re getting professionals to run their ships. Just my opinion–Good Luck!