So an old guy interested in the Merchant Marine,

Looking for some advice. I’m a 54 year old guy still serving in the US military (Army) as a federal technician which will require me to retire at age 60. Currently i’m an officer in the Field Artillery and I have Navy experience as and electrician from when i was younger as well. I’d like to see if the merchant marine is a possibility when the military makes me retire. I’ve always loved my time in the Navy and military in general and would love the opportunity to get back to sea. I’m in pretty good shape for and old guy, have a bachelors degree and a butt load of Army training that probably doesnt’ apply. I’m married but no kids at home and would look to be in Charleston SC which we love (live in Columbia SC now).

Any help and advice is greatly appreciated.


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Hello William! First of all, let me be the first to welcome you to GCaptain! You’ll find a ton of very knowledgeable people on here!

First I’d like to ask, to be clear, would you want to be “involved” with the merchant mariner’s career? (Like working in the office for a company) or actually working on the equipment out at sea?

That leads me to ask, do you want to go to sea? Or do you want to work locally? (Usually tugs and barges)

Hope you are having a great day!

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Thanks for the reply.

I’d like to go back to sea. But my wife might have something to say about that so either way would be great. We love the coast so moving isn’t a concern.


With this background I recommend Maine Maritime.

But seriously what skills are you looking to use. How strong are the electronic skills. The ETR ETO path might be one possibility.


There’s no age limit. You just have to pass the physical. Assuming you will have to start as an entry level rating, here is the form:

Down the road, if/when you get enough training and experience to qualify for qualified ratings or a license, you’ll have to pass this one:

It doesn’t hurt to apply…put all your training and experience down on MMC application form:

and see what they say. Also, on the NMC website are checklists which are very helpful to determine what you qualify for:

Good luck!

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Thanks for the information and forms. This certainly helps.


So i’ve looked at the NMC links and checklists. Where to start on the certification and training items, STCW certification or endorsements, Basic Training, particularily interested in the military sealift command stuff.

I am sailing with a Chief engineer who is younger than my son, so welcome aboard

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You will need you TWIC card first and foremost. TSA

Do you have GI bill? You can use it to do the grad program at SUNY to get a 3rd Mate license (2-3 years, I think).

Maine and other schools also have workboat academy stuff that is not 4 full years. Engineering path will take 4+ years.

With your age and background, I’m not sure hawespiping would be good plan if you desire to get a license. If you desire to work unlicensed, there are many options, but it can be tough on the body.