SIU C Book, can I still find work?

HI folks, 33 year old Hawsepiper here 0 experience. (I know about the SIU school/program, thats not what I am talking about)

After some consideration, I believe that getting a C book at the SIU union hall is going to be my next approach. However, I have heard alot of horror stories of people unable to find work and even EGADS! bribery and payoffs happening to secure a job as a C book at SIU. For instance what is the average time for a C book to find a job? And would SIU still help me acquire my AB if I don’t want to go through their program?

Kind Regards

No bribery, just waiting your turn.I started in life with a B book because I attended their school way back when.Never went deep sea or waited in the hall. Free training for life helped me move to other levels. No regrets whatsoever.

Thanks SeaEagle but what about C book holders, do you regularly see jobs for them on the Union Board?

No, I can’t confirm that. Never waited in a hall. I do know if you are patient, good things will happen down the road. Shipping out is better lately. Hang in there.

There is definitely some benefit to going through the Piney Point school. You get a STOS at the end of it and some kind of preference with jobs, although I couldn’t tell you what exactly that is. Hopefully others will chime in.

It always seemed that the guys who got their endorsements through the union schooling/system had an easier time finding a job.

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I know about the school and appreciate that information, but genuinely just looking for information regarding C book holders and employment.

If you live within reasonable driving distance to a SIU hall, i’d go talk to them directly and ask these questions.


This. Go down and talk to the patrolman at the hall. If you live near one of the busy halls NY, Norfolk, Jax, Oakland… you may get lucky sooner.


How far do you live from the West Coast? Check out the SUP if possible. SIU isn’t the only unlicensed union outfit.

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Right now I think a C book AB would have no problem finding jobs. There are almost no OS billets in existence so trying to find work as an OS without the union’s help is likely nearly impossible.

Cheers Capt, when you say without the unions help… Does this mean if I ask them as an entry level mariner that they may help me get on a boat, even if I dont want to go their SIU AB class route?

Afaik, they ‘help’ the graduates of their program get the sea time required to get their AB ticket. If you just join you might get lucky, maybe the job market is really that desperate.

Disagree, keep looking

Depends on what you are referring to by “SIU AB class.” The unlicensed apprentice program will get you AB. The short, single AB course just substitutes for taking the Coast Guard exam for AB, you have to get the sea time on your own.

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Just go get a job on a tugboat or OSV or at MSC, or even a fishing boat. You will make the same money as in the union.

After 120 (12 hour) days you can take two weeks of courses at any school for $2000 and get AB OSV.

You will never need to take another exam to upgrade your AB all the way to AB unlimited (you just need more seatime).

Work another 120 (12 hour ) days and you can get AB Special and STCW II/4.

Work another 120 days and you can get AB Limited.

Once you have AB Limited and STCW II/4 you can go to the Union Hall if you want to and put in for deep sea jobs as an AB.

Private message me and I will tell you what you need to do to get out with the SIU as a “C” card. (No, bribery required, just strategy.) In the meantime, as others have said, getting work as a deckhand almost anywhere and getting the sea time for an A.B. ticket is a good move. Good luck.

Not sure why you deleted that. Lot of good information.

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Back by request.
To the unknown Mariner:

Well it is apparent that you have a license, I am assuming 3rd Mate - Unlimited. Have you applied with the employment agency masquerading as a union, the AMO? From my understanding they are always looking for people. Sounds like MSC needs people as well.

What I am going to suggest works with any maritime union that has a hiring hall system, licensed or unlicensed. Your timing is a little bit off but if you are prepared this will succeed, when the time is right.

Go to the union hall of your choice: SIU for an unlicensed job, MMP or MEBA for a job on your license. You can do this for all three at the same time. Show them your credentials and ask them what is required to register for work. The SIU used to require you to register in a geographic port and they may still. The MMP and MEBA have national cards. The key to this is timing. Every year, beginning around early to mid-May mariners pile off the ships to be home for the summer for the usual reasons: good weather, kids are out of school etc. This usually dries up around the 4th of July. In late November the process repeats itself with mariners getting off to be home for Christmas. This boom will abruptly end just after New Year. The key is to haunt the hall during these periods (if they require your physical presence) from the time they open the doors until they kick you out at night. Let the union patrolman / agent / representative know that your bags are packed and that you are ready to go on a moments notice (and be ready to do so!) You quite likely will get a “fly-out” job.
I have been in the industry for 46 years and it worked for me in the SIU and with the MEBA. It worked for others long before I started. If you are looking at the SIU, get the number for “Manpower” at headquarters and tell them the same thing about being ready to go. If you can afford to go to a port away from where you live to wait, check the union newspapers and shipping reports and see where “C” cards or Group 3 (applicants with no seniority are getting out.) That might be where you want to go.
Seniority works against you for a while and then for you the rest of your career as you move up.

Best of luck, SEAGO

Disclaimer: This is to the best of my knowledge and my information about shipping rules for a particular union could be out of date.


Seago, I have NO LICENSE. I have NO EXPERIENCE. Seriously sometimes I think you guys don’t read anything I write. Complete entry level, impossible to get information. I DONT WANT TO DO SIU SCHOOL “HI folks, 33 year old Hawsepiper here 0 experience.” Appreciate the advice but it doesn’t apply to me.

Dude, try finding a deckhand job on a ferry, you can work your way up to AB, then go join SIU and go from there as an AB “c” card. Be ready to spend time at the hiring hall until something opens up for you. Or keep working at the ferry….