MSC and NOAA ships

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.

Jake, Just know what you are getting into. MSC will not pay for your 3rd lic unless they have a need. You could be employed for years as a wiper or a SU ( supply util in the stwd department) and not get anything from them. If they do pay for the school you are obligated for years there after. And if you are obligated you could be sent anywhere for any length of time as there is nothing you can do about it - you signed the paper and if you resign you pay for the traning. Basically, it’s a trap.
Having been in the USN do you recall what the recruters told you then? Same here. They will highlight the good news if they can find some, and not tell you about the bad. Most of the recruters are either contractors that know nothing or office types that are sent to the job fairs that know less. I once heard an Admiral (COMSC in charge of MSC no less) tell a group from Kingspoint that MSC pays you way from your home to the ship and back. MSC never has and never will. You are forced to pay for all flights to and from the office, east or west coast depending on your coast of employment. So, as someone said here they pay for yoyur travel is only half right. Only where they want you to go. I have known people stuck with an extra $800 airfair just to get home for vacation due to being on the other side of the world and MSC only paying to the location you are assinged to.
The list goes on and on about MSC. It is the bottom feeder of marine jobs out there and is getting worse by the day. I would recommend that you seek a job with a drill company or someone that uses unlic engieers. There are jobs out there in the oil field on large tonnage and the companies are taking people on… brush up your resume and seek a real job with a company that takes some interest in you. With MSC you never feel more like a red headed step child at best. If you recall good times in the USN remember that MSC is the worst of both worlds. You get no benifits from being at sea like the USN, no support like the USN, no tax breaks, no shore duty etc, but you do all their logistics for them - add to that you are a federal employee with all the rules and regs (such as JTR travel that prevents them from paying your way from home to ship that is the industry standard)… be very aware of what you are getting into.


27 years with MSC as an engineer (22 as Cheng) and now almost 2 years with NOAA as a Cheng…here’s the rest of the story.

MSC is always in need of engineers for a variety of reasons. In addition to people who don’t want to sail 10 months a year, who don’t want to wait until they’re 67 to retire, who want to be able to plan a vacation, and thus need to know when they’ll actually be home…and in addition to those who want to take more than a few weeks off between “4 month” assignments, that often are more like 5 to 6 month assignments, they have a constant turnover due to retirements and natural attrition.

NOAA is suddenly hiring in all positions because I was able to convince them that they really shouldn’t be sailing their crews for an entire field season without a break (8 months plus). After much convincing, point papers being written, etc., the powers that be decided to implement some of the changes I recommended…such as paying round trip tickets to and from the ship to the nearest MOC (marine operations center) to a person’s home of record after three months onboard (equivalent to three month tours), and that they needed to have a relief pool to implement this policy. The policy was put into place last year, but it is only now bearing fruit in the way of increased hiring. The downside is that the infrastructure is small so it takes awhile to even get hired…but that too will hopefully change. The other end of this is that until just now, they hired low and chose to “grow their own”…and have experienced a serious brain drain over the past decade. Many positions are filled with licenses under that of the position they fill (2a/e sailing as Cheng, etc.). In addition to a lack of benefits MSC employees take for granted, many of these guys stayed with NOAA because they had limited horsepower licenses and could never have sailed in deep water vessels or vessels with unlimited horsepower unless they sailed unlicensed. I believe the Administration within NOAA now understands the vulnerability this old philosophy created and are now trying to remedy the situation by hiring into the relief pool…which is why all positions are now open (the just opened the Chief Engineer position advertisement within the last week).

MSC pays you to sit on your backside between assignments when your leave has run out…but they try to sail you as much as possible and often don’t let you extend your leave past 30 days even if you have it on the books.

NOAA does not pay you to sit around between assignments when your leave has run out…but since they crew their ships differently, because you can sail on a union ship between assignments, etc., it isn’t apples and apples, it’s apples and oranges. NOAA has “permanently assigned” marines and “relief pool mariners”…those permanently assigned, take as much leave as they desire (even if it’s leave without pay), and always get to return to the same vessel. Those in the pool only get paid when they are assigned a relief job or are on vacation, but their tours are as short as one month and as long as 3 months, so they’re home more frequently. Those permanently assigned are allowed to go on vacation every 3 months, but when their leave runs out, they don’t get paid until they’re back on the ship. Also, NOAA “voyages” are shorter, the crews are smaller (so are the ships), the food is far better, and the pace is far, far slower…which usually means less stress.

The down side is that they have smaller ships, which means they move more underway. Also, the limited horsepower of their ships (only one is currently unlimited) means it’s very difficult to upgrade an unlimited license to the next higher unlimited license…but that too is changing. I’m working with MEBA right now to get the horsepower rating of two NOAA class ships upgraded to unlimited, which would translate into the greater portion of the NOAA fleet providing platforms that would count as unlimited horsepower ships for USCG upgrades.

So, which way to go…MSC will provide faster advancement of your licenses, NOAA provides a lifestyle that is closer to “normal” for non-mariners. Less Admin on NOAA ships, similar pay, although their smaller size does mean slightly lower wages, but only slightly. If you have an unlimited license, you’ll be running the show before long. If you’re just starting out, it’s a good way to break in without getting broken down. MSC goes world-wide, NOAA is mostly US waters, although at least one of their ships goes to south america.

If you would like more information on any part of life with MSC or NOAA, give me an email directly at

Whether to go to MSC or NOAA really depends on what your long term goals are and what kind of quality of life are you willing to live or expect while you’re sailing. Either company will provide a steady paycheck, both have advantages and disadvantages.

Hope this helps.

There are pros and cons, but in the end I think what one can take away from this thread is that anyone that has had any dealings with MSC basically says stay the hell away from them.

That is the best advice I can pass to anyone thinking of working for the bottom feeder of sea going jobs.

When I read these posts I find some common themes. Guys want and think MSC is going to give them training, they’ll get the training and move on. They want to be paid top dollar and get plenty of vaction. Unlimited Master is right about what he says but maybe a bit angry, although I don’t blame him. If you are a dodgey worker, broke and unhealthy, MSC will hook you up. You will never have had it so good. If you work hard and are actually ambitious, the organization will beat you down. The office really doesn’t care too much and you’ll find plenty of very objectionable co-workers.

When I sailed MSC, (AB) it seemed like the same 25% of the people were always doing 75% of the work. Lots and Lots of folks on there would probably be living on the streets or on permanent welfare if they wern’t with MSC because they [B][I]“got nowheres else to go!”[/I][/B] The whole thing seemed like a huge welfare experiment sometimes…:frowning:

I wouldn’t say don’t go MSC, just go with your eyes opened…:eek:

I worked on deck in a group of 40 ABs!! It was an Antropoligists wet-dream! (And, there were 6 more ABs working on the bridge.):smiley:

Generally, the MSC Civil Service office folks were pinheads and hard to deal with, the shipboard CiviMars were easier to deal with.

Right on target! For the record I worked with some very good people in my 30 years with MSC. Honestly, I don’t know how MSC keeps a decent work force with all the BS going on.
My hard feelings are with the management of MSC. The shore side of the organization is a nightmare.
I have seen very good hard working people come into MSC. Apply themselves, only to be shot down by the office that does not care anything about them.
If I seem angry perhaps I am… I could tell you horror stories about MSC, things you would not even think were true.
I am just trying to save someone some career time outlining the facts they would sooner or later find out for themselves. Better to start a career at sea with an organization that cares about you being there and appreciates your service to the company or organization.

Years back MSC was not bad… but those days are long gone I can tell you from first hand experiance.

The Command’s Prussian Efficiency Era (PEE) is over. It’s time to embrace the insanity or be run over by it. Neither of us are going to get [I]clear [/I]here!

I’d like to start using Vegenaut vice CIVMAR.

is the only way to get a spot on NOAA crew to apply to each position via or does someone have a good contact? if it’s through the website, do you know if they will actually look at a CV and say “well you don’t get this position you applied for, but we have another one that you fit”?

I was on the West Coast With Msc Pros and Cons Used to Hit thailand before gulf deployments reduced port time. Also pay is great on the West Coast not the East Coast there is a waiting list a mile long. You get a higher base pay on the west coast. Detailers playing favorites can put you on a lousy ship. You can end up with the Killer B’s and not any Money. Enginneers always do great wherever they Go Very tight knit.

Yeah Jakeman thats why they call it MSC-YA LATER

I would highly recommend MSC if: you are recently divorced and want to sail away. You are single and young and can stay gone for years. If you are homeless and your life is in dissarray.

is the only way to get a spot on NOAA crew to apply to each position via or does someone have a good contact?

The MEBA has the contract with NOAA. If you want an engineering position with them contact the nearest MEBA Union Hall.

NOAA may be advertising but they are not bringing people on board. In fact they may be laying up some boats, and cutting their sailing days in half

[QUOTE=skycowboy;46073]NOAA may be advertising but they are not bringing people on board. In fact they may be laying up some boats, and cutting their sailing days in half[/QUOTE]

This confirms what I have been hearing from some guys I just took a class with…

I work for noaa as an ab and I can confirm there is a hiring freeze. Those of us who were hired in the last two years are at risk of losing our jobs when they layup the ships. We are waiting for the fina word but it does not lookk good.

MSC hired me third mate out of the gate. I became a raging alcoholic on the govt dole while housed in a fine hotel, the Double Tree, in Virginial Beach. The hotel has a wonderful bar. 6 weeks in the pool and the pool means easy street and eating dinner at the bar. It was good. Yes, it does seem like a federal boondoggle. I saw people who were clearly not good seaman and did not want to ship but rather stay in the pool. They called my name and said your going to Italy tommorrow night. It was the most miserable long flight with MSC. Final wheels down was in Catania Sicily what seemed like two days. There is no one to meet you at the airport, you are on your own! I found out the hard way this is bad policy to be in Catania lost. In commercial shipping there is the agent to meet you. A lot of MSC personnel have a hard time arriving in a foriegn airport and things go wrong. Somehow found a hotel and then much to my dimay dicovered the ship was 90 miles away. Once I made it to the ship I got on was a navy type vessel and the room sucked and the ship was freezing and it was a lot thrown at you. Duty oiler in the Persian gulf. A lot of hard work and long hours. But the liberty was good in Dubai especially. Top shelf Russian hookers, tens and I felt like Hefner. At MSC the liberty is as good as you will get in shipping. So after 7 months straight work I get to go home and see my child and the guy on the phone says, ok call me in four weeks. But I did it, I shipped out with them again towing a dead ship to Hawaii at four knots for three weeks. It was the first and only time I lost it at sea, miseable description. I resigned in Honolulu and got drunk for the next three nights. But I would not recommend against MSC. A young mate out of the academy yes do it.

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