Washington State Ferries

No sooner than I posted here last time about using a company as a filler do I have an interview coming up with Washington State Ferries.

Overall, how are they as an organization and for using them for career advancement as a hawsepiper?

Does anyone here work for them? From what I found the postings were a couple of years old.

Regardless I’m hoping they are my ticket out of the Gulf.

Thanks for reading.

Those aren’t a bad gig if you live in the area. Most of the jobs I know of are union

WA State Ferries is desperate for any body with an MMC to work for them. The biggest issue is being a newb and having no fixed work schedule. You need to be “on call” for at least 6months I believe and lots of people don’t like that kind of BS.

further if you come in already holding a license with enough tonnage you cannot be a mate/observer for at least 6months and still have to go through the on call period as a seaman although you do not have to be an OS if you hold AB so get to bypass cleaning the toilets.

regarding promotion potential, you cannot find better. Paid training, great benefits, easy work (basically being a bus driver and parking garage attendant if you are deck). no chipping or painting either…that is for the shipyards to do.

if you want to escape the GoM and Joe Boss you will do very well

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if you live in the area.

There’s the rub right there. I don’t, I’d move to Seattle or so for the job were I to take it.

6 months of being on call for an ocassional day of work here and there as an AB doesn’t sound like much to me. It’s bullshit. No wonder they are “desperate for people.”

If they were really in need of masters or mates, They would pay them to attend training and provide them with a normal work schedule.

I remember 30 years ago when everyone wanted to work on the Seattle ferries. Whenever they advertised one of these starting on call OS jobs, hundreds of people would line up to apply in person. The ferries were cool back then.

Now everyone wants to work at Amazon and Google. I cannot believe how they have invaded and ruined Ballard and Fremont.


I know the engineers do1 week on and 1 week off. Don’t know about the others

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Just another step on the road to the pussyfication of America.


My financial situation is such where I could take 6 months of reduced work on the potential of regular work down the line.

Is the 6 month period just a probationary period or is it there just to weed people out?

Regardless, my girlfriend and I have been talking about moving to Seattle for a while now and getting out of the Gulf may be the motivating factor I need to take this.

I would suspect both…this time of year there might not be so many calls as during the summer months

don’t plan to live in the city unless you can afford some obscene rent payments. even 70 miles out the cost of living will be much higher than in the GoM region. where I am in Mt Vernon, a one bedroom apt is well over $1000/mo


The good old days when I rented in Ballard for $600 and a waterfront apartment on Lake Union for $800 are long gone. Adjusted for inflation, I also made a lot more money back then.


Well, I did some digging on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Reddit, and so on and the consensus is that the on-call gig would last 3 years!

The 6 months deal is a straight probation period it seems and I’d likely work as an OS with my AB-Special. I’d use my current company for seating to get my Limited. (My last company wrote my last letter in such a way as I could get an Oiler, which I turned in the letter for).

I could handle a year of no work, potentially longer with sporadic work.

As far as Seattle prices go my girlfriend and I live in California so the cost of living shouldn’t be too radically different. I mean, hell, I’m pretty used to Seattle prices on goods and gas from working there.

I’m still inclined to take it, but I’m also probably going to keep looking for west coast work (not Harley - I got canned from there).

If new hires have to work occasional on call deckhand gigs for three years, they obviously have far too many employees already. I do not see how any experienced Mariner could, or would, do that.

Have you checked into the SUP? They have an office in Frisco and Wilmington.

I have been told that with the current situation with the WSF being shorthanded that the period to get a set schedule to be much closer to the six months. If anything, being on call yields to too much work on too many runs leaving the probationer to be driving all over Puget Sound at all hours in order to please the management. I don’t know if the WSF dispatchers allow a new hire to say no to their call? you need to ask about what they expect of the new employee during this period.

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I checked out SIU in Oakland. Apparently with what I have on my document I’d come in at a “B-3” card, whatever that means.

I’m not at all opposed to the whole union or deep sea deal.

I’ve been working on deck for WSF for about five years. It is a good gig, but it is a long road to any regular schedule…especially if you want to work AB. And an AB Special won’t do you any good. Will need a Limited or Unlimited. If you do get hired on, move to the Olympic Peninsula side. Most of our boats relieve on that side and that is where the bulk of the work is. If you move to the North Sound…ie Anacortes…you can plan on working 3-5 years as an OS before getting much AB work, and probably 6-8 years before you are working it year round. That being said we do have the very sweet luxury of sleeping in our own beds every night!

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How much work could I expect on call? Further could I work on call and have a side job if the work is really that sporadic?

6-8 years for a schedule is a looooong time to wait unless I’d make out with the on call work. It seems crazy to me how they keep anybody around if that is actually the case unless people are either supplementing their income elsewhere or are retirees.

Do the deck and engineering officers have to go through the same on call 6 month probation?

Years ago, WSF required everyone to start out as an on call OS or wiper (even if they had unlimited Master or Chief licenses). Hundreds of people lined up to apply for the on call OS and wiper jobs.

I don’t know what it’s like now, but by continuing this on call OS for 5 years nonsense, instead of recruiting officer trainees at CMA, it’s clear the WSF has no shortage of officers.

I don’t know how it is now but a few years ago there were always enough WSF relief jobs on the board at the Seattle MEBA hall available on a night card to be comfortable while aging the shipping card.

It seemed like there were never enough on call engineers to cover vacations and other absences.