MSC 3 A/E Thinking Of Jumping Ship


I am currently sailing as a 3 A/E for MSC. The current rotation for 3 A/Es is looking like 7 months on, 1 month off.

Would sailing union or GOM offer better rotation with comparable pay? Mostly I am concerned with long term job security. I understand that “the grass is always greener on the other side.”

yup, the grass always “LOOKS” greener over here. If you’re hacking 7 months on keep it up. MSC is a darned good gig in my opinion. and you can sock away the bucks.
re: stop by more often!

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If you wanted to try the gulf out, now’s the time.

One advantage of the MSC schedule is the volume of sea days and the speed of advancing your license. There are a lot good things about a government job but time off and flexibility are not among them.

If you haven’t upgraded yet, you can get 1AE and C/E Ltd pretty quickly… If you want to do anything but deep sea, C/E Ltd, Any HP will be very valuable in your job search.

7 on, and 1 off? It doesn’t seem so good if you want a personal life.


I’d second that. Looks like most companies in the GOM are hiring 3rds and 2nds right now. If you have enough sea time for your 2nds I’d definitely look to the south.

7on 1off equates to one month off per year, with a bonus month off every other year. That f-ing insane. Even-time in the GOM translates to six months off per year, every year, and the only time your relief will be late is if there is a hurricane. The money is comparable, especially when put in terms of $/months worked.


There’s no convincing these MSC lovers that life doesn’t have to be so hard…


7 on and 1 off could be grounds for a Stockholm syndrome diagnosis…

You’re a licensed engineer. You’re lucky to get paid off after five to seven months overdue. Must be stateside.

The engineers can play hardball and refuse to go back after a month off. The office has learned it’s better to have a guy return eventually instead of driving him to immediate resignation. Just say no.

I know some licensed folks that are working at other companies while refusing to return. They don’t quit, MSC won’t fire them. No pay, of course, but still on the books.


There’s 3A/E jobs on the AMO board everyday with equal time on and off. Usually 120’s.

Are you on one of these MSC ships, sitting alongside the dock, where you get to go home every night, but report each day? Because if that’s the case, it may change people’s responses. In those 7 months, how much time at sea?

I’m not sure those are MSC vessels. In any event, the original poster is looking for a “better rotation” so whatever the current one is, they don’t like it. And if it is as you suggest, there’s a limit on how much of that time can be used for 2nd AE, see 46 CFR 10.232(e)(1).

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I am 10,000 miles from home. You do raise a point though. MSC does offer more port time than the commercial world although Covid has partially negated that.

Well then, you are going to make good decisions and bad decisions in your career, but until you make them, you will not know the outcome whether it was good or bad. Its about your risk vs reward, and if you are willing to step into something new. Don’t settle, don’t think you owe anyone anything, it is your career, your decision and your goals that what should matter to you.

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From my understanding there are a couple, that have people onboard to baby sit them.

They’re MSC contracted ships. Not CIV-Mars but ConMars

Get your 1st license unlimited motor and gas turbine before you get out. I’ve been in your shoes in the 80s and left MSC after 4.3 years , Get all your STCW quals. renewed on MSCs dime… The union doesn’t pay you when you take training. Also you pay for a hotel room when waiting at the union hall for a job when you actively are trying to use your shipping card. You can clean up on night/ day jobs to help offset away from your “home port” costs chasing a boxboat job. If you live near a good hall you are lucky. I live near Boston and aways flew west to LA and Oakland unless an open job popped up in Boston. Get your group one standing MEBA if you have sea days . MSC has 6 month yard periods with crew getting OT and penalty pay after 5 pm . Union has very fast port turnaround and my longest yard period was 30 days in Singapore. I did a few jobs in Saipan, Diego Garcia, Subic Bay on a MSC contract ships that were pretty good with port time . If you are good and a company likes your game they may offer you a 1st engineer job and you work an even rotation, 90/90 , 70/70 , 84/84 depending on the round trip time.

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There are a bunch that sit pier side. The high speed vessels are always in port to minimize the aluminum hulls cracking when they are underway.

The oilers are so wasted and past their service life that many don’t move much. Leaking shafts, thinning plates/ruptures, broken king posts, leaking cargo oil pipes. Many are being kept afloat while waiting to be retired.

The special mission ships don’t move much. Hospital ships are in endless repair. Salvage/tugs just wait for work. Tenders just sit in Guam or in a yard.

It’s only the fourteen AKEs, the two AOEs and a handful of AOs that work. MSC is fast becoming a paper fleet manned by vacancies.

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Thanks for that info @DeckApe . What is the manning like on those vessels that are pier side? Is it a reduced manning? What is their work schedule like? From what a friend told me once, he goes to work, like a normal person each day, and goes home at night. Sounds pretty cake to me.

I’m assuming you are a CIVMAR (Government fleet employee) not a commercial mariner employed on an MSC contracted ship with the Sealift or Pre-Po ships.
I guess the primary question you need to ask yourself is, as an engineer where do you see yourself in 10 years, sailing or shoreside?
With MSC you can advance your license/STCW quickly if you want to enter the MSC “monkery” (cue Gregorian Chants) for the next 6-8 years. An upper level license/STCW Management Level certification could make you more marketable for shore positions in the future either with MSC, with businesses that support the government or with some commercial companies. Some ex-MSC upper level engineers I know even ended up a Space-X then returned to MSC.
My 2 sons worked MSC Deck Officer side for a couple of years, upgraded their licenses then went GOM OSVs then moved to drill ships. For now they seem to be happy with this. My older son did experience the negative side of GOM-OSV work when in 2015(ish) his employer cut position titles (pay) then benefits including travel and 401K matches. No recourse, no negotiation, no warning.

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