Quitting MSC for the Union

Hey folks. I’ve been a 3/O with MSC for about 2 years now and am just about finished with the time to upgrade to 2/O. I’ve been assigned to a ship here for the last 6 months. My relief date was supposed to be November 11th. They are telling me they can’t relieve me until late February/early March. That’s another 4 months! I can’t take it anymore!! This isn’t worth the money. I have all the classes required for 3/O. I want to finish this hitch and then find another job in the limited time they give me off. If I want to stay deep sea, should I just take a leap of faith by quitting here and rolling the dice with the union or is there a better option. Any advice would help.

Join the MMP

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Short answer, yes, if you want to continue sailing deep sea then yes, you’ll need to join a US union or sail foreign.

Did you by any chance joins MMP’s government division during your time with MSC? I know if you are there long enough you can transfer over to full book membership versus applicant status.

Maybe not an ideal situation, and I am sorry you are delayed for relief, but stick it out until you are relieved, then on your time off join the Union and see if you get any traction, if not, then you have a job to go back too.


This is true. As a member who did it the hard way, I don’t always agree with this but it is possible.

Another note. Those that I have met that have used this loophole were best served “slumming it” for a period to get comfortable with the different pace of commercial operation. A lot easier to remain employed on a lower tier contract than one of the top tier where they aren’t going to put up with non-near instantaneous job proficiency. Not saying that MSC mates aren’t proficient but it is a different way of doing business than just about anywhere else and requires time to assimilate if the only thing you’ve ever known is “the MSC way.”

Definitely got to sail lower rank or on a crummy contract at least a little. Jump on a fancy box ship without knowing what you’re doing and you’re liable to get run off. There’s just too few people and too much to do too fast. It’s a pretty insular group to boot. This is what I’ve seen as an engineer, not sure how breaking into sailing tanker mate or what have you, where the mate does even more specialized cargo stuff, works at all.

Quit. MSC is great to get some experience and upgrade. You’ve got to be a psychopath to stay on a ship for 10 months out of the year or stay on a ship for years in order to promote. Just be prepared to actually work on the commercial side. Stay safe out there.

@Chief_Seadog . I believe this was ended several years ago. I was told people in the past were able to go from MSC to a C book, but now you have to start as an applicant. I guess the people sitting in the hall were getting mad at the practice

It’s worth your time verifying that assumption with the MM&P govt service rep, as the MM&P website still lists the procedure to transfer from gov to offshore group C.

I wouldn’t rely on rumor when it comes to your own future.


Son sailed with MSC and was member of MMP. Hoped to transition to them or AMO until a medical condition interfered, Good plan, but didn’t work out through no fault of his own. Go union if at all possible. May not be the best position in the beginning, but quite rewarding as you get further on. Best of luck sir no matter what union you end up with.

True, the OP should absolutely verify this with MMP. Ironically, seems that once you join MMP one has to rely on rumors regarding where and when jobs are going to be called, until they get their foot in the door. But then again @Shipsahoy should also verify this with MMP, last I heard from MMP members is that the union doesn’t let anyone know when a job is going. But yes verify this info for sure

It is in the shipping rules that no official of the union is allowed to “tip off” anyone about a job coming on the board. That being said, Members, including myself, are well within their rights to inform other members of upcoming job openings. Those that don’t have the established reputation to garner such preferential treatment can always hawk the shipping list which is available online to all applicants and members. It will list when jobs were filled and for how long. Either method will give you an edge.

There is an art and science to shipping within any union. MM&P is no different.


I have definitely seen folks still transfer over to C-Book status. While most members I know think it is BS, it still happens.

Good, bad, or otherwise it is one of the inducements for someone to join the MMP (or MEBA) federal services group. One of the caveats is that all that time with MSC, Army Corp of Engineers, etc does not count for pension time if you transfer.

The deal in MEBA is even sweeter. Straight in as Group 1, which is rough on the younger guys because it’s a big pool of Group 1 thirds. Or I mean they come over and try to sail first on a box ship and it’s a debacle but that’s rare.

If you come over as Group 1 with even a CE license, stay humble and take a 2nd job learn the job and pay your sweat dues one can earn respect and do well.

I’m personally indifferent to it. Always have been.

I have had a number of guys come over from grey stack lines. Most catch on pretty quick. Others hold on to the bad habits and require more supervision & direction. The first trip is always a learning experience particularly in the world of rotary shipping. I have found the key is to not assume and to make requirements known. It helps avoid misunderstandings and mistakes down the line. Just the way it is.


It was only Group 2 when I was there, and according to MEBA as of this summer it’s still just Group 2.