Older sailors

Here I am at 59 and wanting to get back to sea. I sailed ships primarily and some ocean tugs. I hold a current AB unlimited with RFPNW. I am fit (been installing floors for a few years now) - hard work you know! I am concerned that my age will be a red flag for hiring.
Any suggestions would be helpful.

You will never get them to admit that age is a red flag. However, the reality of the situation from a HR standpoint is this: Why should they hire a guy who has probably less than 10 years left that he will be able to do the job when they can hire a kid who can work for another 30 years or more?

The unions will send anybody regardless of age to a ship. I’ve seen it time and time again.

MSC is an Equal Opportunity Employer. I don’t know how easy it would be to get hired on as an AB though, but regardless, you will have to wait a long time for them to process your application. (40 years or older is a protected status, but that just means a company isn’t going to tell you that’s why they’re not going to hire you.)

There are plenty of us old farts out there. Don’t let age stop you.

I think the average age of the SUP is around 60.

Our second mate just turned 70, you would think hes 50. Im willing to bet the average age here is over 50, so I wouldnt sweat it, as long as you dont have any serious health conditions.

And SIU would be 70

[QUOTE=brjones;117162]And SIU would be 70[/QUOTE]

Well…if you can pass the yearly physical…

When I first started sailing SIU contracted tugs in the mid '80s, we had an old AB that was retired from the NMU. He sailed the Murmansk Run and drew a Soviet stipend of about $2 a month. He was a hell of a seaman and mentor to many seamen as they advanced. 6 of them I can think of offhand are pilots now. He could hustle pigiron on deck with the best of them until he approached 72. He worked out on my speed bag and heavy bag every day in the ER. He retired from the SIU with 10 years and died 7 years later. A tough old bastard. RIP Quinn.

[QUOTE=injunear;117181]Well…if you can pass the yearly physical…

When I first started sailing SIU contracted tugs in the mid '80s, we had an old AB that was retired from the NMU. He sailed the Murmansk Run and drew a Soviet stipend of about $2 a month. He was a hell of a seaman and mentor to many seamen as they advanced. 6 of them I can think of offhand are pilots now. He could hustle pigiron on deck with the best of them until he approached 72. He worked out on my speed bag and heavy bag every day in the ER. He retired from the SIU with 10 years and died 7 years later. A tough old bastard. RIP Quinn.[/QUOTE]

A follow-up on Quinn. In 1940 as a juvenile delinquent from Southie, he was sentenced to maritime training at the age of 16. He survived a torpedoed freighter and shelled tanker in the North Atlantic. He told me the story of picking up a German seaman from flotsam of the SHORNHORST. About 6 months later, we were sitting in the VFW in Port Arthur. (His wife Scotty was the bartender and a retired English radio officer.) A German tourist in a very fancy motorhome stopped in for a drink. It was amazing to see them both recognize each other from the ordeal.

Bump…

. Added to meet minimum requirements for gcaptain.

This thread is about the question of age discrimination in the maritime industry. It varies by sector, likely the government and unions have less due to enforced policy

Another angle is the difference between long time career mariners compared to people who switched later in life from an unrelated field.

My observations have been that late starters resent it when the degree of professional respect is lower then that which they have become accustomed to in their previous field. Their input is not going to be as valued as that of far younger crew.

A second issue is that they may not understand that their intuition is not as reliable as their co-workers of the same age. Decisions will be made, procedures carried out etc based on good seamanship which may violate the “common sense” which was developed in a different context and is less reliable and less valuable at sea.

I think it takes considerable wisdom for a late starter to understand he not playing on his home court and the younger players are running the game.

Five years ago I retired from commercial fishing, the first job I ever had at the age of 54. With an AB unlimited and a 100 ton license I went in search of a new career. I applied to all the company’s on the east coast and the few that did respond did not need anyone. A friend who worked in the insurance industry told me that there were too many injuries to older folks on the barges and tugs so they were not in the market for some one 54 years old. I ventured to the Gulf and found greener pastures. There are plenty of people, mostly officers, in the oil field that are over 50.

I’m no super mate, I can drive the boat, do the paperwork and keep a watch out of trouble by myself. So I am always still open to suggestions from the peanut gallery, but the condescending “you look like your twelve and don’t deserve to be my boss because of that” attitude, absolutely chaps my ass. Especially when it is the 40 year old orange hat OS who doesn’t want to listen because he used to manage the highest earning Walmart in his region, and I evidently can’t manage to pull my dick on my own.

That same outfit I sailed in the ‘80s and ‘90s, there was a guy that was 50 when he hired on as OS. He was raised commercial fishing and shrimping. Couldn’t read or write and had a bad speech impediment but had amazing mechanical, math and poker skills. He had his sights set on a harbor tug engineers job. A DDE ticket was being required by the company and several unlicensed engineers were pissing and moaning about having to go to school. This guy attended a few night classes to learn basic reading skills. He got his wife to record the questions and answers from the study guide on cassette tapes. I watched over several hitches as he taught himself to read as he followed the study guide with headphones on. He needed very little help as he progressed. He transferred to the harbor division and I heard he passed the 4K DDE on his third try without attending any school. I don’t have much sympathy for people saying that the system is stacked against them.

I’ve personally seen half a dozen guys (and one gal) in their late 50s and early 60s coming back to the oilfield after decades ashore (or coming for the first time after doing other stuff), and some of them do quite well. Entering the industry in my early 40s after a mostly-office, often coat-and-tie career, I can attest that it’s not always easy to make that transition, including the transition of answering to younger folks who perhaps have more limited life experience (but a lot more experience in the industry).

I personally enjoy working with the older folks – better stories, usually less drama, and often pretty good judgment and decision-making skills.

I may flatter myself overmuch, but it’s my feeling that a lot of my experience in other sectors is helpful now; I can use a computer, for instance. The Army taught me how to hurry up and wait, and the phonetic alphabet, and how to live and work with a bunch of guys in sometime crappy conditions. I learned some mad customer service skills that I like to think make a difference when dealing with the company man, toolpusher and dispatchers. I have been both a supervisee and a supervisor before.

So, anyhow, think about your shoreside strengths that may carry-over to life afloat. I suspect that a recruiter or personnel manager is going to be most interested that you know what you’re getting in to (won’t leave after one hitch), that you don’t mind working, and that you’re not a liability health-wise. Satisfy those points and be ready to go right now, and I don’t think it matters whether you have five or 10 or 20 years in the industry ahead of you, given the rate of turnover at most companies.

I suspect that working FOR the youngsters is just a fact of life for most of us, no matter our career fields. We can’t all move up to the C-suite or become senior partners or own boat companies. I’ve learned a lot from guys younger than me and from people I supervise (still do) .

No, when I go to sea, I go as a simple sailor, right before the mast, plumb down into the forecastle, aloft there to the royal mast-head. True, they rather order me about some, and make me jump from spar to spar, like a grasshopper in a May meadow. And at first, this sort of thing is unpleasant enough. It touches one’s sense of honour, particularly if you come of an old established family in the land, the Van Rensselaers, or Randolphs, or Hardicanutes. And more than all, if just previous to putting your hand into the tar-pot, you have been lording it as a country schoolmaster, making the tallest boys stand in awe of you. The transition is a keen one, I assure you, from a schoolmaster to a sailor, and requires a strong decoction of Seneca and the Stoics to enable you to grin and bear it. But even this wears off in time.

Moby Dick Chapter 1

[QUOTE=txh2oman;117552]I’ve personally seen half a dozen guys (and one gal) in their late 50s and early 60s coming back to the oilfield after decades ashore (or coming for the first time after doing other stuff), and some of them do quite well. Entering the industry in my early 40s after a mostly-office, often coat-and-tie career, I can attest that it’s not always easy to make that transition, including the transition of answering to younger folks who perhaps have more limited life experience (but a lot more experience in the industry).

I personally enjoy working with the older folks – better stories, usually less drama, and often pretty good judgment and decision-making skills.

I may flatter myself overmuch, but it’s my feeling that a lot of my experience in other sectors is helpful now; I can use a computer, for instance. The Army taught me how to hurry up and wait, and the phonetic alphabet, and how to live and work with a bunch of guys in sometime crappy conditions. I learned some mad customer service skills that I like to think make a difference when dealing with the company man, toolpusher and dispatchers. I have been both a supervisee and a supervisor before.

So, anyhow, think about your shoreside strengths that may carry-over to life afloat. I suspect that a recruiter or personnel manager is going to be most interested that you know what you’re getting in to (won’t leave after one hitch), that you don’t mind working, and that you’re not a liability health-wise. Satisfy those points and be ready to go right now, and I don’t think it matters whether you have five or 10 or 20 years in the industry ahead of you, given the rate of turnover at most companies.

I suspect that working FOR the youngsters is just a fact of life for most of us, no matter our career fields. We can’t all move up to the C-suite or become senior partners or own boat companies. I’ve learned a lot from guys younger than me and from people I supervise (still do) .[/QUOTE]

I might have overstated my case. A couple of run-ins with the Wallmart manger types mentioned up-thread tend to stick in your mind.

I am sailing at 53 after over 20 years ashore. You can do anything you set your sights on. Just be realistic and set achievable goals for yourself.

I have sailed master on and off since i was in school @20 or so. Sometimes sailing deckhand in the morning, 100-ton wonder in the afternoon. Doing both at the same time helped me avoid a case of captain-itis as I moved up. Moving between industries and back and forth from wheelhouse to deck has helped me have a good rapport with crews in general, but especially with older guys unlicensed. I haven’t run into anyone yet who wants respect just because of their age, but i know its out there.

On topic, some are more “discriminatory” than others. For a while it seemed the gulf only wanted fresh academy kids for the entry-level wheelhouse jobs, it seems to have changed some, anyone have some first-hand info on how it is now? It sometimes could be that they would rather train someone their way, rather than re-train someone with potentially bad habits but more than likely years of experience. Its a tough trade-off.