New guy with a few out of the norm q's, also: West Coast?

19, from MN, living in AZ, I am a certified Fluid Power Specialist (hydraulics/pneumatics) and will be a Fluid Power Applications Engineer in the spring. I’m young and have that as a fall back. I have always been drawn to hard, honest work. I don’t have my neccesary credentials yet as I figured I should ask some questions first.

I’ve been doing a lot of searching/reading on all sorts of topics on this site and have not heard much about the West Coast, why is that? I prefer the west coast (not really a California fan but I know they have ports).

I am mainly interested in large ships, I’m assuming it’s not real practical for such ships to hire young, inexperienced help. Am I right in assuming most positions within my scope would be smaller, short trip boats? The only reason I’m drawn towards larger ships is the longer times between docking.

I can’t imagine my hydraulics training would have much use out on the ocean, would it?

I am fit, hard-working, I have no problem relocating for two months and knocking on doors trying to find work, and am looking to do this for a year or two to decide if it is what I think it is and if it’s a profession I would like to persue. Am I shooting myself in the foot trying, or do I have a shot at getting on a ship? I know at the moment the industry is in a lull but I wouldn’t be looking for work until spring (I realize that doesn’t mean the industry will be booming).

Thanks for any answers/advice,
Chase

I’m not sure your hydraulics certification in itself would be enough… but there are hydraulic systems on boats. I know a lot of fishing vessels have those systems… so if you can work on them, it might be a skill they want. Oilfield is slow now, but that’s not the only industry with mariners. Sounds like you might want to look into the engineering route and direct your questions to those guys.

Hard, honest work is for the young and naive, for the rest of us it should be avoided.

Have you thought about logging? It’s hard work and there’s lots of hydraulic equipment.

The relationship between long trips between ports and vessel size is probably not as strong as you’d think. We are 600+ feet and a port very two or three days is typically. There are a few long passages but overall average is probably about a port every four days. There are more ports between say, Antwerp and Singapore then you’d think.

Hydraulics is but one area of expertise that is required of a marine engineer. . . .

Well, considering you specialize in hydrolics I would say look in to getting on the ROV side of the world. Now giving my experience is in the Gulf, so all I can speak of is the gulf. ROV is the future of the oilfield and if you can get into it now, 10, 15 yrs down the road you will be set! Just my opinion. And most of your ROV boats now a days are big boats… Look into company’s like EMAS, Bibby, and I believe AQUEOS may also have ROV work.

Thanks for the info, I’ll definitely be looking into what is in demand as far as ROV work goes.

Does it make sense for someone like me to become a merchant mariner for a year to see if working in the industry is what I want to do before pursuing more education or would I just be wasting my time?

Thanks,
Chase

The ROV route sounds good. Maybe another idea in that vein would be research vessels. An example is the [I]Thomas Thompson[/I] operated by the University of Washington. I’d be surprised if that boat didn’t operate ROVs, as well as the normal complement of hydraulic cranes and windlasses. My experience is that the university-owned RVs don’t sail all year long, so there is a certain amount of turnover in parts of the crew, which may work in your favor. I think each of the West Coast states have universities which own similar vessels. I was at Dakota Creek Shipyard in Anacortes yesterday and saw that they are completing two new RVs owned by the DOD, I believe, but to be operated by Scripps Institution in San Diego. Lots of hydraulics on those. (By the way Dakota Creek is a great shipyard, and from what I have heard is growing itself, and perhaps in need of skilled workers).
You’re right in thinking that knowledge of hydraulics doesn’t necessarily put you first in line for a job. But it does indicate to a prospective employer that 1) you are mechanically inclined 2) smart enough at least to get a certificate in something. That [I]does [/I]make you stand out from the crowd. Most entry level applicants have no real technical skills. As for the nuts-and-bolts of job hunting these forum threads are filled with lots of great advice you should research.
I, too, have noticed these forums seem to be aimed mostly at OSV/GOM. Makes sense because, what? Half or more or all mariner jobs are in GOM? That’s an educated guess but I think pretty close to the mark. That being said there are plenty of jobs on the West Coast. The problem is they are evenly spread out over four big states so you can’t target them as efficiently as you can elsewhere.
In the Seattle-Alaska maritime world things will slow down come September, but will get busy again until January.
Your hydraulic experience makes you valuable for shipyard-associated vendors. In taking such a shoreside job may get an “in” on vessels. For example in Seattle there’s a company called Maximum Performance Hydraulics which does a great deal of hydraulic work on vessels of all sizes and kinds, primarily fishing boats and tugs. You would not sail working for them but you would get good experience in working with boat systems. Coincidentally you would be in a position to get “poached” if the engineering staff on a boat you’re working on is impressed by you. It’s happened before. Of course, the downside is that working for such a vendor you would also work on non-maritime jobs also. FYI the Seattle shoreside job market is hot right now.
The largest of U.S. ships are, by and large, union-staffed. Your certificate will mean nothing in getting an entry level position on those. The route to USCG certification and licensing follows it own route. Your hydraulic certificate will play no part in the process. But your knowledge will help you a lot in your daily work as a marine engineer, if you become one.

If your interested in ROV work then email this guy. His name is mark. Ask him what it takes and what you should an shouldn’t do to get into the field and tell him what you can and can’t do. Just be straight up with him and he will in return do the same for you…

matt.movre@emas.com

When I talked to him, work was scarce for an entry level hand with no ROV experience and basic hydraulic and basic mechanic skills, but like the guy above me said, you have a skill I can’t do so that puts you ahead of some, if not all entry level hands.

As far as trying out the industry for a year or two, that might not be thoroughly feasible. The time and money required to obtain a MMD and STCW would not be recouped in only 1-2 years. After obtaining a TWIC, MMD and BST for STCW you are now qualified to go sit in a union hall hoping to get on the next job posting. As an OS/Wiper brand new to the union you could likely spend more than half of your 2 year trial period sitting in a hall.

What are you really trying to achieve? Advancing a hydraulics career or becoming a marine engineer?

If the former another option might be the drilling industry. Yes there is a downturn right now but for the right guy who knows. Aboard drill ships the guys that work primarily on the drilling equipment are called rig mechanics and the primary focus of their jobs is electro-hydraulic machinery. The entry level is usually called an assistant mechanic. Although at least one company I know of actually started hiring a separate guy called a hydraulic tech. Having formal training in hydraulics would be a definite advantage based on some of the guys I have had work for me and trained. Also subsea (they work on the blow out preventers) is nothing but hydraulics at its heart. There you would just have to try each drilling contractor and see if they have openings in their subsea departments. You might get a slot on a tiger team and that is how they evaluate if you have what it takes. Later will come a assistant subsea engineer and then subsea or senior subsea engineer. If you prefer land based try NOV, in particular the Varco side of the house. Their service engineers would be another opportunity. They typically are on the road a lot though.

If the latter, take anything you can to get to sea. Use the training you have had and apply yourself to learn about other machinery. Work hard, smart, organaized and others will guide you. Seek outside training if possible (everybody seems to cut training budgets first though).

Good luck.

[QUOTE=txwooley;167395]As far as trying out the industry for a year or two, that might not be thoroughly feasible. The time and money required to obtain a MMD and STCW would not be recouped in only 1-2 years. After obtaining a TWIC, MMD and BST for STCW you are now qualified to go sit in a union hall hoping to get on the next job posting. As an OS/Wiper brand new to the union you could likely spend more than half of your 2 year trial period sitting in a hall.[/QUOTE]

Seems that a lot of first time posters here have an outdated view of today’s merchant marine. This is what some are thinking:

“As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.”
― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale

Commercial pressure drives towards making the industry as much like an assembly line as possible. The tell that this is not understood is the stated “willingness to work hard”'That is a desirable trait of course, particuly to advance, but for an entry level postion deep-sea getting the proper credentials is more difficult and much more important.

Factory trawlers/pollock boats out of Seattle. Beaucoup de hydraulics / machinery systems and lots of time in between port calls. :grinning:

Ha! I spit my coffee out when you said logging. I was 24 and had been logging in Maine for a little over a year when i got my first job on a tug. After my first day on the tug i thought i was on vacation. Speaking of hydraulics, i was running the skidder when the guy cutting dropped a tree to close and ripped open a couple hydraulic lines spraying hot hydraulic fluid all over me inside the cab. So yea lots of hydraulic repairs needed in that field.

[QUOTE=acesouthcoast;167400]Ha! I spit my coffee out when you said logging. I was 24 and had been logging in Maine for a little over a year when i got my first job on a tug. After my first day on the tug i thought i was on vacation. Speaking of hydraulics, i was running the skidder when the guy cutting dropped a tree to close and ripped open a couple hydraulic lines spraying hot hydraulic fluid all over me inside the cab. So yea lots of hydraulic repairs needed in that field.[/QUOTE]

That’s something.

There is a young man here in the house looking at Craiglist and calling around for a skidder. He’s on the phone and I’m yelling at him; “He can’t understand what you’re saying, you’re saying it wrong! Tell him you’re interested in looking at the SKIDDAH!”

Tell him to check uncle henry’s!

best bet when your looking to do some dickering bub, fuckin a right

[QUOTE=acesouthcoast;167461]Tell him to check uncle henry’s![/QUOTE]

Uncle Henry’s has an on-line site but unlike Craigslist you can still place free ads by mailing in the back page form. That means you can buy and sell stuff even if you don’t or can’t get on-line. Imagine what it’s like to talk to folks selling stuff in rural Maine, now imagine just dealing with the ones that don’t use the internet.

Bring the wife and we can dickher! I saw that in henrys not to long ago on an ad for a 2001 ski doo mxz. So yes i get what you mean. I havent lived in Maine for several years but i still check henrys every week.

11 free kittens free for the taking in Orland this week. Come get’em!

lol, orland. I’ll rip right up thayah on my sled need them cats to keep the shitpokes outtah my pond

[QUOTE=acesouthcoast;167485]Bring the wife and we can dickher! I saw that in henrys not to long ago on an ad for a 2001 ski doo mxz. So yes i get what you mean. I havent lived in Maine for several years but i still check henrys every week.

11 free kittens free for the taking in Orland this week. Come get’em![/QUOTE]

I like the trades, some guy had some bear traps, looking to trade for a violin. Or was it the other way around?