MSC Questions

Wow, good info to digest.  Is there actually something called an OS to Mate program at MSC?  

All I can do is try, but just getting a Mates license is my 1st goal. 

As far as unions, does MSC allow you to be a full MMP union member?

I'm just psyched to get out there and learn, accumulate sea time, and enjoy being out on the ocean again.  

I read the American Merchant Seaman's Manual, I'm reading Dutton's right now to get back in the swing of things with respect to rudimentary navigation (never mind celestial), at the same time looking at COLREGS to have some situational awareness as to what's going on when steering the ship, etc....   Crenshaw's Naval Shiphandling seems really good too, although some of it is over my head right now (just plain old lack of experience)--but maybe I should try to plow through it?  Any recommendations or ideas for things to read/do?

Best Regards, and thanks for being honest,



Be careful with MSC, coming in as a brand new employee with no maritime experiance you will likely be placed into the Stewards Department making beds, cleaning, and washing dishes. I used to work with MSC and I saw more than a few very smart and motivated people get stuck down in the galley when all they wanted was to be an OS or Wiper. Guys get stuck in the Stewards Department for months at a time and there is never any guarantee that you will get out, they will outright lie to you to keep you there. A common lie was "Next round, just wait a couple of months and than we will move you up". Complete BS, the best thing to do is to go work in the Gulf of Mexico or even get with the SIU…Also, don’t disregard going to one of the Maritime Academies, if your ultimate goal is to be a Mate or an Engineer, than they may be a very viable option for you, they offer limited tonnage programs as well as their unlimited program. If you do go that route, be careful what limited program you pick since there were a lot of limited kids taking all the same classes I did, altough they didn’t wear a uniform or go on cruise, and at the end of four years all they got was a 500 ton license and not the unlimited…Oh, and the ships versus boats debate, I know more people form my class sailing tugs, barges, OSV, etc than sailing on ships and the pay isn’t that much lower than what I am getting and they are going home every 2-4 weeks.


MMP negotiates on behalf of MSC licensed deck dept personnel, but you dont have to be a member, they’re just the group that does the talking for you. You can join MMP and work for MSC, sure, but you dont have to. SIU negotiates for unlicensed i believe.

I like Dutton’s, its basically an abridged version of Bowditch, easier to read, shorter to the point; Eventually you’ll want to take a look at Bowditch, the be-all-end-all bible of marine navigation. The CG takes alot of Qs from there on license as well. Theres a few Rules books out there, that have the rules on one side and an explanation on the other, i honestly never used one, but ive heard Farewells recommended.

To add to Kingfysh, schuyler offers a 2-year limited license/associates/regiment package geared for tugs thats an attractive option for a lot of people.


Kingfysh and JonN,

 Thanks gentlemen, that  is really good info for me and maybe others to chew on.  

  For Kingfysh: I applied for the Ordinary Seaman Advancement Program (OSAP) with MSC, which is only for the deck department (mandatory) in order to fulfill the requirements of the job description (these include 120 navigational watches, and instruction from  qualified members of the deck department {QMDD--just kidding} to instruct me in order to make AB within a two year period).  This will take a while, and eventually I'll be an AB limited, sail as an AB for at least a year, accumulating 3 years of sea time (one year as an AB), then enroll with PMI or MITAGS and take approx. 6 months of training in order to qualify to sit for the 3M license exam.  I don't expect this to be easy, but I'm used to getting beat up in training environments .

   JonN, thanks for the info on what to read, I just ordered a copy of Farwell's last night, and I'm plugging away at Dutton's right now (some of the chart indexing and numbering systems chapters act as a great sleeping pill).  I ordered a bunch of materials (mostly for studying for AB and lifeboatman) from maryland nautical including some training charts and a weems and plath navpak for plotting.  

  Unfortunately going back to school is not a realistic option right now (married and 3-4 years of school would be geo-bachelor stuff again without a break)--and making some money while training and working is the best and smartest idea for me.  I would love to be in a school environment again, but it's not practical right now (maybe some day though).  I'll continue to study away and hone down my plan while waiting for MSC to get back to me (should hear very soon).   

Take care & best regards,