Alumni, Mariners....I need your help.....

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by Suzie, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. Suzie

    Suzie Member

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    My DS is currently a plebe at USMMA, he needs to get his head straight on a couple of things and I don't know the answers:

    1. When you go out to sea what is the typical time spent at sea. He currently understands that when you go out you are out there for years and will only have a day or two on shore. I would think they get more time off.....but I don't know!

    2. Does everyone fulfil their 6 years out at sea or can they work for a US Merchant Marine Co. on shore or......... if they choose to do the Merchant Marine Option.

    Thank you for your time and answers....
     
  2. Lynpar

    Lynpar Member

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    Suzie, are there any other issues you think your DS has? Plebe life? These folks are awesome about helping out with their experience. :thumb:
     
  3. cmakin

    cmakin Member

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    Time at sea varies depending on shipping company, type of vessel, route, etc. US mariners are not at sea for years unless they want to be. Most typically sail for 6 to 9 months/year. How the time off/on works depends again on the type of vessel and trade. Most times during voyages, time away from the ship is allowed, as long as the work/watch responsibilities are fulfilled and any visa requirements (rare) are met.

    With regard to the commitment requirement, I cannot say. It may be different from when I graduated. I do know that I enjoyed my time at sea, especially as a young, unattached person. I can't think of any better way to spend a young adult life.
     
  4. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    I have talked to people who worked as few as four months out of the year and as much as 10 months. It all comes down to personal preference. What standard of living do you want to maintain and what sacrifices are you willing to make to get it. I personally only sail six months a year. I sail on an Articulated Tug and Barge and work a 3 week on/off rotation.

    As far as the commitment goes, it changes from year to year and is to some degree dependent on the industry. When shipping is tight, MARAD can be more flexible if they want to. When I got out in the mid-90s, no one gave it a second thought and I know some who never worked in the maritime industry. I know some years you had to prove you couldn't find or were at least actively seeking seagoing employment before they gave you credit for shoreside employment.

    I would advise him to make no decisions based on any ideas he has of a seagoing life this early in his career. He should talk to his shipmates during sea year and see what the life really is like.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
  5. TwinsDad

    TwinsDad Member

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    Merchant Marine jobs are widely varied

    My son graduated SUNY Maritime College last May with a bachelor of Marine engineering degree and US Coast Guard third assistant engineers license. During his second-class summer cruise he served as a cadet observer on a conical Phillips supertanker which sailed between Valdez Alaska, Seattle Washington and the San Francisco Bay Area. Crews on those ships were two months on and two months off. When in port they could leave the ship for a few hours to obtain toiletries and souvenirs but not much more. Typical time in port was 8 to 12 hours which was sufficient to load or unload.

    Upon graduation he was employed by Bechtel Marine engineering nuclear propulsion division. He just completed a six-month classroom program in nuclear reactors and is about to start work earning ratings on a nuclear prototype in the Albany New York area. Upon completion of his required ratings, he will instruct Navy personnel in the operation of nuclear power plants. He will not go to sea. Two of his classmates are graduates of the merchant Marine Academy at Kings point.

    The amount of time at sea for merchant mariners varies by company and operation. Some go on for two months, four months or six months and vacation time varies based upon the company and operation. Those that spend more time at sea generally earn more money during the year for the extra hours. I have heard of Cadet signing on for 12 month duties on unusual cruises one in particular was to Antarctica and not cruise involved a very large bonus because of the prolonged time at sea. Some graduates operate tugboats and/or ferries and usually return home every night. Some graduates work on shore jobs and keep their hours up with special training one weekend a month and two weeks during the summer to keep their license active which is required.

    At SUNY maritime only about 30% of the licensed graduates actually go to sea. There are so many job opportunities that it would be virtually impossible for your son to guess what he will do what he graduates. My son always intended to go to sea but when offered the nuclear teaching position, jumped at the opportunity.

    United States merchant Marine Academy is a fantastic school and will often him numerous opportunities. I would suggest that he studied hard and tries to keep his grades as high as possible since the graduates with the best grades generally receive better job offers and more opportunities.

    Be very proud of your son and although he is working very hard, he will be rewarded upon graduation.

    PS - some graduates work in power plants for large utilities
     
  6. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    I think you are confusing USCG License requirements with Navy SSO requirements.
     
  7. cmakin

    cmakin Member

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    Conical? Sorry, I just had to. Probably an spell check correction. Comical, to be sure.
     
  8. Suzie

    Suzie Member

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    This is exactly what I was looking for!!! Thank you!! DS is going through a tough time and questioning many things. He is not having trouble academically, but in addition to the questions I asked above, he is also questioning if he chose the right major....he wants to switch to Engineering from Deck and really is considering leaving USMMA to go to school for Engineering. He is trying to find out the answers if he can switch right now.

    Along with the Dark Ages he is just one completely confused Plebe....I'm trying to give him encouragement and info, but I'm Mom, so it really helps to get some info from y'all.

    Thank you again and if you have anything else to add...please do!!!:thumb:
    Suzie
     
  9. h20costable

    h20costable H2OCoNstable

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    Suzie,

    It seems like yesterday that we dropped our son off for his Plebe year. Now he is in California doing his internship at a shipyard (He is an Engineer / Ship yard management major). He sailed off the coast of Korea as a 3rd Classmen. This year - Alaska, the shipyard, and then who knows? He is thinking about asking to work on one of the "Mercy" Ships. When he goes back to KP this fall he will be a 1st Classmen, looking forward to graduation.

    All that to say, it has been an awesome ride! There is no comparison between what he has done, and the rest of his friends who went off to "Standard" schools. Tell your son to hang in there, it only gets better, and the opportunities are endless.

    As to switching to Engine - the old saying goes: "There are only two types of people on a ship, Engineers, and passengers....."
     
  10. cmakin

    cmakin Member

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    I remember, early in my career post Academy, I sailed with a Chief that broke it down even further. He had a list of the entire engine department. Next to some he wrote the letter "P". Those were the ones that he considered to be passengers. That got me to work harder to keep off of his "manifest"..
     

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