What should I expect going from GOM to Deep Sea/Union?

I am looking to make the transition from being an engineer on a GOM mudboat to an A/E on a deep sea vessel. What am I getting myself into? How is it better/how is it worse? Although the hitches are longer, does the time seem to go by faster since you’re able to get off the ship every now and then? How much of a disadvantage am I going to be in due to the fact I have never sailed on a deep sea commercial vessel before? Any input from those who have sailed deep sea would be greatly appreciated as it is all new to me.

First of all, do you have the horse power rating that is needed? If you have been only on mud boats, probably not. If you plan on joining a union, you can expect to be low on the list if you are an applicant but, since you are an engineer you will probably get out faster than a deck officer. Usually 4 month hitches.

Yeah, I got a 2nd A/E-Unlimited HP-Oceans. My navy time was on submarines and my initial GOM time was on an anchor boat (~12,000 HP), so I was able to get unlim. HP.

HP limitation is one of the main reasons I’m looking to go deep sea. With the new rules coming out, unlimited HP is going to be in excess of 10,000 instead of the current 4,000. I got an unlimited license and I want to keep it!!

Roger that. That’s why I am seeking unlimited tonnage jobs also. Good luck. Try signing up with a union…

From what I have run across in my limited experience with unions, their pay is a totally indecipherable mishmash of crazy shit that eventually equals your day rate. MM&P was anyway…

Now, it has been some time since I sailed, let alone with MEBA. I was an applicant with District 1, PCD. Pay was based on horsepower/tonnage and rating. Holiday compensation was based on type of ship. One difference from your situation, though. I didn’t care how long I would be on board. I took the job out of the SF hall as a relief day third for the trip through the Canal, from the Bay to Port Elizabeth. When we got to the east coast, the engineer I was relieving wanted no part of the Atlantic crossings. The Chief helped me by not putting the job up, and I got 90 days (plus or minus) onboard. By then it was November, and I figured (incorrectly) that there would be plenty of jobs in the SF hall when I got back to the west coast to catch a ship over Christmas. But this was the winter of 81, and shipping really started to tighten up. What I found trying to get another ship was that the professional “night hawks” would take night relief jobs until their year was nearly up, make one short relief trip and then go right back to night hawking with a fresh card. Those of us low on the food chain would get very few scraps unless someone decided that we were too much of an annoyance in the hall and didn’t call on a job to let us out. I never did get another sailing job out of the hall. I ended up working with Crowley out of Lake Charles; most of the time on the San Juan/ Port au Prince run with the trailer barges.

The pay varies with the contract. There is a book in each hall that details the contract and pay for each company. There is no mystery and no nonsense surrounding it. Every variable is spelled out clearly.

As far as nighthawks go, getting night jobs keeps a lot of people fed while they wait for work. Just as often as not, night jobs may “double up” because there are not enough people in the hall to take them. All of us Group 1s were applicants at one time and survived. It is worth it.

Don’t take my post as complaining. I was just stating that it can be difficult as an applicant even in the best of times; just more difficult for someone who spent his money like a drunken sailor and couldn’t wait for shipping to loosen up. I certainly have no regrets as to how my career has unfolded. Back when I first started at sea, there were a whole lot more shipping companies operating, and no “ready reserve” ships. But the companies were dropping rapidly (PFE, States, Export, Farrel. . . .).

If you are looking into AMO as an option there are NUMEROUS jobs available right now within your rating. You will most likely be able to get out right away. You do not have to go to a hall somewhere to sign up for work – it is all done by phone or internet. As far as the pay goes - it is hit or miss depending on the type of ship or company. There is not a lot of transparency regarding the onboard wages - either you want the job when they call you or you don’t. There are some retirement plan issues but since you would be starting out they will probably not have much of an effect on you. It is an election year and there could be some nice changes at the end of the year within union leadership. As far as skill sets go you can expect that to be hit or miss as well. You might know more than your boss or you might get to work with someone that has great abilities and experience to learn from… or it might be a hell hole…or it might be a bunch of guys talking about how great they are and never getting up to turn a wrench, but hey mostly it will be what you decide to make it. AMO does have a wide variety of vessel types that you could land on and the pay ranges from incredibly good to WTF am I doing here? You will need at least a year to figure out which companies are good and which you need to stay away from, but you never know you might land on a TOTE or APL ship and stick to it like glue. (my recommendation as an AMO member? - join MEBA)

Yeah, AMO is the backup plan. From everything I have read/heard, MEBA is the way to go…IF I can get on. I’m pretty set on going deep sea, so if MEBA can’t put me to work, then AMO it is.