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US Maritime Academy
Posted: Sunday, March 23, 2014 8:57 PM
Joined: 19/10/2010
Posts: 11

I've been working on yachts for a few years and decided to apply to one of the Merchant Maritime Academies for marine engineering. If I attend I'll graduate when I'm 32 or 33 with a USCG 3rd Assistant Engineer Unlimited ticket and a Bachelor's in Engineering. 
I applied because I'm interested in working in commercial shipping, but I want to keep the door open in the yachting industry as well. I'm wondering whether Captains/Chiefs believe there is any place/demand for this ticket in the industry, especially on larger vessels. I haven't met too many maritime grads in the time I've been working on yachts. As far as I can tell from the MPT website, there is no MCA equivalent for the 3rd Asst. Engineer Unlimited. I'm not sure how much this would advance my career on yachts.
Any advice is appreciated. Thanks

Posted: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 9:46 PM

The education you will be receiving at the acadamies will be far above your MCA compatriots that are coming out of the yachting schools, and you will have a true Commercial license. I am an acadamey grad from over 20 years ago, and have been in yachting my entire time, you are right, there are not that many of us. There is a big demand for larger licensed engineers and with a little unlimited tonnage you will be able to upgrade rather quickly, maybe longer going with yachts. I am sure once you graduate you will do some commercial time, at least you should to see what it is like.

As for the tickets I believe you will be able to get a CEC for most flags, except maybe the true Red Esign boats, but I wouldn't worry, there are plenty of boats with Cayman, BVI, Marshall and others that with a little paperwork you will be good to go.

Best of luck in getting accepted some of the schools, like Mass Maritime have become hard to get into, as the demand is pretty high.

Posted: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 11:41 PM
Joined: 09/09/2008
Posts: 78

Although you say you've worked in yachting for a few years, you do not say what position, or at what level.  The education you could get from an Academy, is priceless, but requires a lot of time and money, for something you will probably really only need if you go commercial.  Working your way up through Yachting can be a better way to go, a lot of yachts pay for schooling, and you get actual experience and get paid at the same time. Unless you get into Kings point, schooling is going to cost a pretty penny, and for the first year or two, you will be in school, unable to work in the summertime to pay for it. You are also going to be competing with graduates that are going to be 10yrs younger than you, when you get out. If the company had two people applying and they have the same training and license level, which do you think they are going to hire ? The reality is that long term, the younger one will more likely have less health issues in the time they work there. There is usually demand in yachting for engineers with proper tickets, so that shouldn't be a problem. I have seen academy graduates seeking employment in yachts, due to lack of commercial work,the merchant fleet of the US is generally small, and people in it stay longer than they have in the past, so there may be limited positions in the commercial on ships, although with an engineering ticket, there are land based jobs available. There are a lot of smaller commercial jobs you can get, which a 1600\3000 will be good for. Good luck
Posted: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 7:20 PM
Joined: 19/10/2010
Posts: 11

Thank you both for replying. 

Anon- Thanks for your advice and best wishes. The academy I applied to was Mass, and I was accepted. It's helpful to know that there is a demand for larger tickets and an equivalency path that I can take if I want to get into yachts. I am interested in getting some commercial experience, as you mentioned.  
Capt. Erik- thank you for raising some important points. My last position was sole engineer on a smaller vessel and before that I was a deckhand on a larger one. I've been looking for some time (with not much luck) for a 2nd or deck/engineer position, which would be more suitable for my experience level. Thanks for bringing up some other considerations as well. It's true that US Merchant fleet is small, and after speaking to a careers rep at Mass Maritime I learned that there are not too many merchant marine opportunities for graduates, even engineers- although he said that there is a very high demand for seagoing engineers in other commercial sectors (supply vessels, sea lift, etc.). 

And as you said it's true that I'll be competing with younger people... but seeing as how I'm pushing thirty and the sands of time have already begun to weather me, I already am older than a lot of the guys who are applying for entry-level engineer work. By the time I meet the sea time requirements for a Y4 or DDE (provided dementia and advanced rheumatoid arthritis haven't gotten the best of me) I'll probably be 10 years older than some of the other guys sitting for the same test. But you're right, whether or not it's in my control my age is something I have to consider.
Anyway thanks again to both of you. If anyone else has any thoughts on finding work with a Maritime Academy engineering background please share. Thanks. 

Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2014 1:19 PM

Congratulations on being accepted for MMA, it is by far the best of the Acadamies and offers one of the best post graduation emplyment rates of any college. Don't worry about the age thing, that is a yachty thing, the commercial guys could care less. The college job rep is right, not much going in the deep sea world, but plenty in the oil patch, in fact I know several yacht captains that have recently gone that route and love it. I good site to check out is the GCaptain web site, lots of good useful knowledge and a good forums.

One word of advice when you get to MMA, it is a military school and they take it seriously, it is going to be hard for you as a freshman to be yelled at by people that are 8-9 years younger than yourself. When I went through the hazing laws had not taken effect yet, and the older guys really chaffed at some 20 year old kid yelling at them, it is all part of the deal, just keep you head down, blend in and you'll get by fine. Buzzards Bay is not the most exciting place to be, but the campus is great, and a quick ride to Boston or the Cape.

Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 3:06 AM

Anonymous, nice for you to support your Alma Mater, but you know that there is really only one true Academy.    

Good luck Ishmael.  You are about to become a student at the 3 or 4th best maritime school in the United States.  MMA is a very good community college.  Plenty of obnoxious Patriot fans and girls that will wrestle you for a pack of unfiltered camels.  I hear that they even let you graduate now without any sea time.  [Comment edited by moderator.] 

Posted: Friday, March 28, 2014 3:56 PM
Joined: 19/10/2010
Posts: 11

MMA Anon- I'm happy to get some great advice from an alum, and what you bring up is definitely something that's occurred to me. Fortunately, as the other Anon demonstrates, there are plenty of mental teenagers in the industry. Who knows, maybe it'll be better to be yelled at by an actual 20 year old, as opposed to someone whose brain just got stuck at that point.
Posted: Saturday, March 29, 2014 5:09 PM

 Well according to these two articles, your investment in MMA should be well worth it. You will see that only one Merchant Marine Academy is mentioned!

If you can, I suggest moving to Mass and establishing residency, I think you will need to do it  at least 6 months prior, check out the rules on the web site.

Posted: Sunday, September 28, 2014 9:41 AM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1061

Yes, it will be worthwhile, when you sit exams, also sit the MCA exams and keep dual licensing. More yachts requiring unlimited licensing are being built every year, and it is becoming nearly impossible to "hawse pipe" into an unlimited grade license. I would suggest you specialize in DP systems and other ETO issues, the future of the commercial shipping industry is Autonomous Ships as to navigation. Technicians with the skills to keep all the sensors and systems up and operating will in high demand. You would also be wise to dual license as a DPO learning operations and DP ship handling as well.
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