MSC and NOAA ships

Hello everybody,

I am trying to break into this new career field. I have some questions. Is MSC a good place to start? I was in the Navy for twenty years and I figured that they would be a good place to begin.

Now to NOAA ships. I looked at USAjobs last week and they were hiring for a lot of engineers. Why is that? Are they hard on people or people don’t want to do the sea time.

I would welcome any comments about either of these employers.


You’ll always see ads for engineers. When deckies are on the beach, out of work, engineers are still in demand. Nature of the beast. If I could do it over again I’d be an engineer.


I was an engineer in the Navy. I am a little leery of NOAA ships because they were hiring from Chief Engineer down to wiper. Their fleet is not that big. Do you guys hear good things or bad things about them.


I’ve done a lot of training work with NOAA deck crews, and they all seem to enjoy their jobs and NOAA. MSC, not so much. If you want to collect lots of seatime though, MSC will be happy to put you on a ship and never send a relief. Leastways that’s what I’ve heard. I went to an MSC job fair once, and the recruiters made it sound way to good to be true, which told me enough.


Thank you! I thought they sounded too good to be true. They have those cool videos and slick website. It makes me think of a used car salesman.

Jake- welcome!

What did you do in the Navy?

Engineers have more job security- and an easier transition to shore jobs- but I wouldn’t trade the view from the bridge for anything:)

(Although I have thought of sailing as wiper in order to get my QMED- just in case)

I don’t know much about NOAA-but MSC is good if you want job security and don’t mind the structured environment and being at sea up to 10 months straight.

With overtime and non standard pay (i/e handling ammo) you can come home with a lot of money. Fast seatime too.

They are ALWAYS hiring engine people.

Both NOAA and MSC give hiring preference to veterans when hiring- so you have an advantage.

NOAA has entry level openings much more often.

Ordinary Seaman,

I was a nuclear machinist mate for 20 years. I am about to get downsized again. I am tired of the job insecurity. I want a job where the overtime is plentiful and I don’t have to worry about getting laid off again. So with MSC I could be at sea for 10 months That is worse than the regular Navy. The recruiter that came to Toledo said the schedule was 120 days out and 60 in. Plus that is what is on their website. I don’t know about MSC. I am glad I found this board to hear the truth.

So, you want good job security, lots of overtime, and not too much sea time. Sounds like the M/V Big Rock Candy Mountain. Let us know when you find it. If they beg I’ll take a master’s job.

Seriously I worked for both NOAA and MSC, both outfits are ok. When I worked of NOAA they didn’t have very many deck officers because they use there own commissioned deck officers. I think NOAA has low pay and good job security, not very much vacation but not hard work either.

MSC is more like regular deep sea, good pay I think, I don’t think the vacation is is good as other outfits, and it was hard to get a relief, but you can always quit.

Jakeman- “The recruiter that came to Toledo said the schedule was 120 days out and 60 in”

I’ve never sailed with MSC- but- everyone I’ve spoken to in person has told me that getting relief is HARD. I’ve been told again and again (mainly by my AB’s) that 4 months RARELY happens- and to count on being out 8-10 months.

That would be perfect for me- but tough for most.


When I sailed with MSC it was 9-10 months on and about 2 weeks off. It would have been perfect if it were 2 or 3 months off. The money was really good, but what’s the point if your on the ship forever.

MSC through the 90s was a minimum of 6 months on, followed by vacation and schools. At that time, you were accruing about 3-1/2 weeks of vacation in 6 months. After that, you were back in the pool for ships and schools. Now, it is a minimum of 4 months on. However, I talked to a classmate not long ago, who told me that the relief issue is still present. There are many times when your relief might be delayed a month or two. Kind of tough to schedule much that way.

When you don’t get relieved on time in MSC you get a daily bonus till you do get relieved. Once relieved if after only 4 months onboard, you have earned only about 2 weeks leave, the rest of your time off will be unpaid leave. MSC is very good while you in the pool or at school, bennies like food allowance and perdiem Pay, ALL travel expenses reimbursed and nice hotels, etc. MSC pay mirrors upper-end Union pay.


Thank you for your input. I think that MSC would be a good fit for me. I am use to the structured life and I don’t mind the sea time. I love being at sea, actually. I am waiting on my MMC. From what I have been reading I will have a long wait. My blood pressure was a little high when I had my physical because I was concerned about getting laid off and now I am more concerned waiting on my MMC. My MMC is waiting for a Medical Review.

Do take a closer look at NOAA. They have two classes out of the year for the officer corps and if you have a qualifying college degree they will train you in a fast pace 3rd mate officer course, for free!! However, if you leave within the first year you have to pay a certain amount to compensate training.

There is also the civilian side where you would most likely start as AB and go up the ladder.

You also have the choice of going through different sectors, like surveying, a new sector for underwater archaeology, and more.

The NOAA officer corps pay is equivalent to the armed forces officer pay scale. Also, there are substantial housing bonuses, I think I remember seeing an additional $1000-1500 per month for housing.

Either way best of luck!

from someone getting older and not particularly wiser…one of many regets is not investigating the NOAA opportunities.

Hello everyone. I’m going to start my career at sea with MSC. And I want to know more about this company: management, supply, conditions onboard etc. For the first time they offered me 6 month as a deck cadet, navigation area - Mediterranean Sea. Is it ok for the first time? Also I heard they have generally old fleet (build about 80s-90s), is it true?

I had to laugh when I read this. On my first MSC ship I requested a relief at 6 months. By the time 9 months rolled around I threw up my arms and threatened to quit. [B]Within three hours[/B] they had a named relief for me.

The other option is to fake a back injury. Very common practice at MSC. :eek:

Is there anybody out there that will say what the situation is on relief for MSC? They are still hiring for engineers, does that mean that there is not enough engineers and you will have to wait for a long time to get a relief. Just wondering!

I am a recently retired MSC master. My take, after a number of years is don’t do it. MSC only survives when shipping times are bad, and they are not that bad at this point. If MSC is rolling out the red carpet and always has jobs to offer ( and most of the time they do) what does this tell you? After being there for years I can tell you it is not the place to be. They care nothing of you, and appreciate you less. The short answer from someone that has been there don’t do it… seek another employer or get a job ashore and at least see your family and friends.

Tell me how you really feel!!! LOL! Thank you for the input. I am retired Navy but I was in the engineroom so I don’t know much about the topside workings of a ship. I would believe whatever they told me. MSC must be in bad shape because they are going to so many job fairs and looking for guys like me. I went to one in Toledo and spoke to a recruiter there. He made it sound nice. I would like to get my 3A/E out of them if possible. I don’t know what to do.