First, say hi to Willy for me, assuming he’s still there. He’ll know who I am.
I graduated DIT in 76, went to the North Sea, got work in two weeks and five days later was in the water. Upon return to Seattle in 78 I did a number of things. Working for Crowley was one–towboats to Dutch Harbor, which I was able to do because I already had AB papers. Around that time I went to the Seattle CG office to see if my offshore oil time counted as sea time. The guy behind the counter at that time was a young guy, very hard, and hard to deal with. He may have been (I’m not sure) the very guy that a few years later was accused of taking bribes in return for a certain laxity. He would not, himself, ok my oil patch time. When he said it had to be time underway, I countered with the truth that underway time was precisely that time when most workers, even the vessel ABs, did the least work. And anyway, what did it matter if you were anchored to buoys when you moved about just as if you were underway and, when the weather got up, you moved off in a tow? And there was the truth, too, that most of both the tenders and divers did far more seamanship work–rigging, moving of lines, handling of deck machinery–than anyone else on the vessel. That was especially true in the North Sea of the time, a time when people weren’t so touchy about division of labor and when there were no unions, no hard hats, no life jackets to fiddle with. Noone said anything if you carried a wicked diver knife or stood 150 feet above the sea on an I-beam to take a piss. About the only thing the divers and tenders didn’t do was chip paint and stand a wheel watch. If you’ve ever worked on a ship you’ll know that monkeys can chip paint. And any quite moderately endowed human person can stand a wheel watch. And of course, we have the obvious, that a divers association with the sea is a most intimate one.
Finally, there was the matter that all the vessels I worked from–semisubs, jackups, dive support vessels-- had as almost the sole excuse for being out there the very work that the divers and tenders, and only those guys, were there to do, and so the divers and tenders were absolutely essential for the operation of the vessel. None of these arguments moved in the slightest the CG guy behind the counter. And so I gave up for a long time any thought of getting sea time for what I knew from my own quite good previous sea experience was, in fact, the best, most legitimate “sea time” that I had, if we are talking about work as opposed to just enjoying the scenery.
Later, I was told by several people that Seattle at that time was the hardest place in the USA to get credit, that had I gone up to Juneau, or down to San Francisco or Saint Petersburg, I would have had no trouble at all. I don’t know whether that was really true. If it was, I’m led to believe it’s not true any more. The person here to ask about this, I think, is Mr. Cavo, here on gcaptain.
Now, my interest in the matter is mainly one of curiosity, a credential or two to add to a scrapbook of mementos. When I returned from the North Sea I did so with a letter stating what I had worked on, my duties (vaguely), my times, and some sketchy stuff about the tonnage, propulsion, etc, of the vessels, stuff that I had to supplement by my own research. I did not have even one thing from a vessel captain. The first vessel was the DB Thor, at the time the world’s largest derrick ship/barge. Dutch, but the officers were Norwegian. I could speak Norwegian, but they didn’t give me a chance. A bunch of big blond guys who were too busy with their cards and whiskey. Other places I got some promises but nothing came of them. Divers were thought of as outlaws. (and consumables!)
Another thing I did when I returned was get into Local 2396 of the piledrivers/carpenters/divers union there in Seattle. I formally retired from that in 1994. For nine months of 85/86 I was an instructor at DIT, hired to fill a need during a period when DIT was changing ownership. Layed off, I went back to sea as an AB. My ship went down the ship canal past DITs wooden ship/classroom boat’s sunken hull. One of my last tasks there had been to help with some shoring. I think one of the instructors, Steve Stiltz, thought I may have intentionally sunk their classroom, either from inside or in a dive, because I had been layed off. (I could be pretty resourceful) However, the beautiful large photos I had given to the school, that were hanging on the walls, went down, too, I suppose. Anyway, I never saw them again when I would infrequently return to DIT for the memories. One was a brilliant night shot of the Piper Alpha. Another was a dramatic shot of the Stad Scotia, taken from the Thistle A. I and eight other divers got pretty sick on the Stad Scotia in a journey to the Shetlands. Tell Willy to tell the school that I want those photos back!
Cheers. Remember, keep good records, get signatures. Sweet talk them. (Hard for a diver) Myself, I burnt bridges. But memory is still green.