US Navy vet interested in Merchant Marine!

Hey all shipmates,

I am a US Navy nuclear submarines vet, I was a sonar tech. For the past 2.5 years, believe it or not, I have been stuck in a minimum wage job, so…

I’m interested in joining the Merchant Marine, not as an officer, but as an enlisted man, that is to say, an “ordinary seaman”.

Doing a little research, I have discovered The Sailor’s Union of the Pacific.

If you click on “Training” at the top, you are presented with information on training for STCW95. There is a link to download a training application on the right.

So, I have a few questions about that:

The training is in San Diego; do I need to pay to fly down there myself? (I assume the answer is yes…) I live in “Silicon Valley” right now. Of course I could always go Greyhound, that would be cheaper. :wink:

Can I expect to go underway on a vessel immediately after this training? That would be my preference. If not, what would the typical waiting period be?

My understanding is that one can typically expect to be at sea for up to 9 months at a time, with a 3 month period afterward which is some kind of mandatory time off? Is that correct, and can anyone offer more details/advice about that?

Also, I have a general question about pay; I assume it would be more than what I got as an E-4 in 2002, which was about $1800/month, including submarine pay and sea pay. I heard the starting salary, as an ordinary seaman (as opposed to an able seaman) is about $3000/month, is this correct?

Get back to me, I might have some follow up questions also!!! :slight_smile:



I suggest you use the search engine on this forum. It will answer many of your questions as there is a wealth of info on here already.

Check out the SIU (union) website and look for the apprentice program. It will put you light years ahead, get you AB and get you work (which can be tough to find) Also search for it on here. Keyword SIU apprentice program or Piney Point.

You do not have to travel to SD for school. They are all over the country, check the USCG web-site for a list. You’ll only need a couple of courses to get started and you’ll probably have to pay for them yourself so you can pick one close to where you live.

The sea time you mentioned is longer than normal. MSC does send people out for that long though, maybe whoever told you that was referring to them?

Good Luck.

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As a prior Sonar Tech you might want to check into a survey or ROV comapny. I would think that with your background you could make alot more than an OS and you won’t have to deal with the bureaucratic mess at NMC for your credentials, all you would need is a TWIC. Check out FUGRO and Fairfield.
All this is assuming you don’t want to eventually want to drive ships.

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Hi neutrio, I also served on subs (ret QMC). As a Sonar Tech, I agree with azimuth that your best option may be going into survey or ROV work (try also). As a QMC I still had to go to schools because the Navy training certificates/qualifications I had are only worth the paper it’s printed on. While the previous training gave me a leg up I basically still had to repeat the training. Good Luck.

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And to think that the Navy went out of their way to train the Quartermasters of the Coast Guard …That is a heck of a thank you !!:smiley:

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Wow, I posted this a long time ago…So yeah, I sort of went in a different direction for a while. But now I’m in the process of putting a package together for MSC. :slight_smile:

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Your deck service from the Navy might be totally moot. You’ll have to start from the bottom almost guaranteed and even if you’re willing to be an OS- proverbially, that ship has sailed away a long time ago. Unless you can secure a position within MSC and even they are not really hiring anybody right now.

I also suggest an apprentice program through a union and start from there. You need to be an AB nowadays to start anywhere and even the National AB rating is not worth a lot outside of harbors- what you need is STCW Able Seafarer - Deck.

A good option is also the Workboat Academy through PMI Mitags. It’s spendy, but your GI bill could probably cover it and you come out that program with an officers license.

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…and I didn’t even see this was a necropost. Disregard. Although might be helpful to those who use the search feature.

Snusumriken, yeah like I said I’m getting stuff together to apply at MSC. After starting this thread, like I said I changed my mind for a few years…last year I started a package at MSC but gave it up for a while when the Navy took a while to release some records…then I got an automated email saying MSC was opening up the entry level position. Apparently they open it up for four days at a time, once a year. Last year they did it in October. I’m going to try and give it a shot this year. :slight_smile:

I don’t have a car and live about 70 miles from the nearest shipping ports (Oakland and San Francisco), so going up there regularly to visit the union office to try and see if there’s a ship is not practical when I already have a job, which I do. :slight_smile: If I still lived in downtown San Jose I probably would go that, probably go up there once a month, to the Union Hall in San Francisco, to see if there’s a US Flag ship taking people. I still live in Silicon Valley, but in an obscure corner where it takes me an hour on public transit just to get to the Caltrain station in downtown San Jose. :slight_smile:

MSC sounds cool though. I talked to a recruiter for that in person. He said you if you are accepted, you are notified several months in advance when they think they will need you, and they fly you out for STCW training etc. He also said that EVERYTHING they do is on the computer, so if the web site doesn’t list anything open, that really does mean they aren’t hiring right now (he said there is no such thing as open positions that are not on the web site). They were definitely hiring in October 2016 though. So if it opens in October 2017 I’ll definitely give it a shot.

If hired, the plan is to work there until I make officer, then be an officer for a couple years, then probably get out for the higher salary in the private sector.

It’s cool if MSC doesn’t work out…I’m still pursuing other stuff. I have IT skills but only one junior credential, and I never did IT as a job, despite growing up in Silicon Valley…I did a couple interviews at a famous IT company, and they said I could run circles around some of their senior engineers in terms of my UNIX command line knowledge, and they were prepared to hire if I came back with a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) cert (it was an entry level job). They said they’re always hiring for that position. So if not MSC there is the IT stuff…the guy I interviewed with thought I could make a lot of money in IT…to be honest, that’s more of a hobby, though. I’ve never truly wanted it as a job. Maybe if I could get just the right role. Going back to working at sea seems like a much better option, if I can get into it. :slight_smile: I hated the Navy as a job BUT I loved working at sea, I loved the adventure of it. :slight_smile:

That PMI thing is apparently up in Seattle…I’m in Silicon Valley. :slight_smile: If I were to try to get into the Merchant Marine via the union instead of MSC, I would probably go to Cal Maritime in Vallejo (in the East Bay) to take the STCW class. It is a week long and it costs about $1200. :slight_smile: Here’s the link for anybody reading this in the Bay Area who might be interested: Cal Maritime STCW class

Chief, sorry I took so long…I didn’t log on this web site again for a long time…but yeah that job sounds interesting, but it would require me to move to Texas, as far as I can tell. If I’m going to take something like that it would probably be a tugboat out of SF or Oakland…neither of which is ideal since I live in Silicon Valley, although I would be more interested in moving to SF or Oakland than I would be in moving to Texas. :slight_smile: Really, if I’m going to work at sea, I think a container ship would be a closer match to my interests. :slight_smile:

Thanks for your advice and thanks for your service, shipmate. :slight_smile:

You were past bad info. Do not listen to MSC recruiters…Knowledge of MSC is not a requirement for their Job. They are not actually recruiters. As part of the Workforce Investment Act they are required hold informational (false recruitment) drives to pass alone “potential” job opportunities to job seekers…even if there are “No” job openings now or within any foreseeable future. The program is part of a Federal Funding source for local community Job Service establishments. Your community is paid per body that attend. Ask me how I know.

And do not count on MSC if you are desperate for work. It could take years or never happen at all.

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hmm well thanks for your advice shipmate. :slight_smile: I wouldn’t say I am desperate for work, I currently have a job, but I’ve been interested in working at sea again. It’s cool if they don’t pick me up the first few attempts. :smile: