NOAA Ship Schedules

Hey y’all I am new to the forum. I just had questions for anyone who might have worked for NOAA or a similar agency in the past (or maybe just maritime work in general). My primary question is: Do folks who work at sea typically maintain a residence at the home port of the ship? For example, if I live in Florida, would it be advised to relocate? From what I can tell most NOAA ships are at sea for roughly ~7 days with 2 days at port (I’m guessing at port). Has anyone here worked this schedule? Would it make sense to maintain a residence away from the home port (I believe some months of the year work is performed at homeport)? It seems to me that it would almost make more sense to maintain a residence if the schedule was a 30/30 but with the 7 day - 2 off schedule it makes things tricky.

I hope that makes sense. Any input would be greatly appreciated. I apologize if this thread overlaps anywhere.



Man that’s just mean.

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NOAA has ships based in Newport, RI- Norfolk, VA- Charleston, SC, Pascagoula, MS- Newport, OR- San Diego, CA and Honolulu, HI. You don’t have to live in any of those cities to work there. Even if you did you won’t necessarily get to take leave when in home port. You earn leave as a new employee at 4 hours per pay period (2 weeks) plus 1 day for every 15 days at sea. You also earn sick leave at 4 hours per pay period. Bottom line is this: if you work for NOAA you shouldn’t expect to spend much time away from the ship.

Edit: Working for NOAA is a lot of fun especially if you are young and not tied down with family commitments. I’ve said for years that it would be the best job at sea if there were a rotation for the crew.

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Thanks for the tip! Would almost seem to make the most sense to sub-lease my place and live on board when the ship was at home port. Plenty of folks around here do a 30/30 working on oil rigs/etc. and it makes sense to maintain a residence, but seems like it’d be a waste of $$$ to me keep on renting if 7+ days/2 days at different ports. Does sound like a lot fun.

Also, I don’t know of any NOAA ship that does a 7/2 schedule. Most of my trips were 21 to 30 days out/2 days in port.

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That might’ve been hearsay. I think person I was talking to worked a survey ship, made it sound like they were at port a little more regularly.


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I should add that if you live in the homeport of the ship you can go home after the workday and on weekends. I used to do gangway watches on the weekend for overtime.

I work there now and have worked there for 5 years. You don’t have to move anywhere unless you wish to do so. Most ships do 200 days a year at sea. Some more, some less. Most trips anywhere from 2 weeks to one month. Some longer especially the Pacific boats like Hi’ialakai and Sette which head to Samoa and Guam often. The Ron Brown goes around the world.

You get full fed bennies plus MWR which is very nice.

You can be a “permanent” homesteaded crewmember or be like me in the relief pool (which does not work like MSC’s pool). You are dispatched from home. I work around 4-5 months a year and it still counts as a year for retirement purposes.

A few ships are on a kind of rotational deal where you share the position with another person. Those are usually engineers and stewards.

One little thing to remember when deciding whether to sell your home is that the ships generally do not head back to homeport between every trip and are often not back in homeport until the end of field season.

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They use a lot of contracted security for that now. FYI

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Thanks so much for the input. Have you ever heard of a scenario where someone was able to station in a different home port in the off-season? For example, I work in the geospatial/surveying field and am not currently located too far Gulf Marine Support facility in MS. I’m assuming it wouldn’t be possible to carry out my duties from that facility rather than the home port? Just trying to decode the mystery a little more.

You are looking to get into Survey? That’s a whole different animal. Very possible to work out of a field office or MOC during the winter- that’s what most of them end up doing anyway. Just remember that they are going to put you where they need you, so there’s no guarantees you’ll stay in MS.

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Yeah currently work in GIS, previously did some work with navigational charting with the Corps so I’m familiar with the process. It seems like in the off season it wouldn’t be difficult to do any survey data/charting work remotely or from a different MOC. If that was the case, it might make more sense to maintain my current residence (within reasonable commuting distance of MOC in Pascagoula).

Seems like many of the “navigators” on the seismic vessels I’ve worked on had a background like yours. They aren’t what mariners call navigators, they are surveyors, but of a very special kind and they do have some control of the ship. Anyway: that kind of gig is usually month on month off or 7 weeks on 7 off. The “off” is a little shorter because your travel days come from the “off” time. Pay is astronomical, too. Most of them are ultra comfortable ships with Norwegian designed luxuries. Trouble is, with price of oil where it is now, you might not find one of these gigs easily.

I wasn’t able to “maintain a residence” while doing that kind of work… but residences are over-rated, really. My theory is: homo sapiens like caves and small close social groups with strong leadership, focused goals, and clear division of labour. They also like walking over the mountain to see the next valley and relying on their-own-selves. Work-life balance is having a cave and a group when you are at work and walking over the mountain when you aren’t. “Residences” are for victims of marketing. Happiness is two pairs of boots: one with hard toes and another with hard miles. And enough clean socks, one of them very fluffy.

Lectio Finem


He won’t get “astronomical” pay or a regular schedule here. That’s for sure. My base pay as a 3A/E is higher.

How would one go about getting on a seismic vessel?

Wait for the price of oil to rise, I guess. Apply on websites. After you have been doing it for a while you can go to a head-hunter and let them find you contracts. Not too many of the ships that I worked on are still working, so the market is probably too tight for a trainee to get in to right now. Used to be they would take all the bodies they could.

Thanks for the reply! That was poetry right there.


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