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Average age you can expect to reach Captain?

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  • Average age you can expect to reach Captain?

    Title says it all really, say you start your career at 20 years old, when could you realistically expect to reach Captain?
    Or even just a timescale, i.e. 10 years, 15 years..

    Thanks

    T

  • #2
    You can hold a masters license after;

    Cadet ship - 3 years
    Chief Mate - 18 months sea time (realistically minimum 2.5 years)
    Master - 18 months sea time (again realistically 2.5 - 3 years);

    (Different routes may have slightly different time frame - above is for route I'm on)

    Thus assuming you did everything as quickly as possible, had no resits and got your sea time as quickly as you could hold your masters license after 8.5 - 9 years.

    Of course this in no way means you would sail as a master, that's down to company, experience and the individual.
    ?Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn?t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.?

    ? Mark Twain
    myBlog | @alistairuk | flickr | youtube Views and opinions expressed are those of myself and not representative of any employer or other associated party.

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    • #3
      I've known people sailing as Captain at 27 years old, possibly even younger, I'd say the average age to obtain a command would be between 30 to 40. This all involves a great deal of sacrifice to get the sea time in quickly if you want it young. But all possible.

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      • #4
        In addition, you can qualify as Master on smaller vessels and/or in limited trading areas in a shorter timescale.

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        • #5
          Not to throw a spanner in the works, but even though you may hold a Master's ticket, doesn't automatically mean a company will promote you to Master. You will still have to work your way towards it.
          I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.....

          All posts here represent my own opinion and not that of my employer.

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          • #6
            Thanks everyone, quite surprised actually, expected at least 15 years to be in with a chance, great that the opportunities there though.

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            • #7
              Mathematically you could get an unlimited skippers ticket at 22 if you went to sea at 16. But most people will be in their 30's with a good deal of ship handling skills behind them. The most skilled part of being a Captain is the ship handling, all the ISM paperwork bull any tom dick or harry could do.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by marlinspike View Post
                Mathematically you could get an unlimited skippers ticket at 22 if you went to sea at 16. But most people will be in their 30's with a good deal of ship handling skills behind them. The most skilled part of being a Captain is the ship handling, all the ISM paperwork bull any tom dick or harry could do.
                Actually. I'd disagree. Ship handling is not quite the dark art, on the right ship types with practice and exposure it comes quickly. I believe that management and leadership are the biggest problem. There have been a few cases in recent years where young Captains have made immature decisions, but I'd say those are very much isolated incidents as I've met some very successful young commands.

                The key to a quick command is not working for large companies, generally it's easier with smaller companies and if you are willing to accept a lower salary.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by YoungMariner View Post
                  Actually. I'd disagree. Ship handling is not quite the dark art, on the right ship types with practice and exposure it comes quickly. I believe that management and leadership are the biggest problem. There have been a few cases in recent years where young Captains have made immature decisions, but I'd say those are very much isolated incidents as I've met some very successful young commands.

                  The key to a quick command is not working for large companies, generally it's easier with smaller companies and if you are willing to accept a lower salary.
                  Outside of ship handling, the job of Captain is not very difficult in the slightest. On paper Captains have a lot of authority, but in this day and age of instant satellite communication, Captains rarely make major decisions, it all is done shore side in companies offices by HR & chartering departments and Superintendents, and also by following set rules in companies SMS.

                  A couple of decades ago when there was no satellite communication or SMS in place, they may have wielded some power on board, but now not so much. I've seen so many captains now that are never off the phone and emailing companies offices they are in reality glorified secretaries.

                  It is not approved yet, but heard some chatter that some time in the not too distant future, on some ship types they will roll the job of Chief Engineer and Captain into position one and create a new rank called "Ship Manager".

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                  • #10
                    Perhaps deep sea on ships with simple cargo operations (container, tanker etc???) but on most of the ship types I've worked on the Master seems to be under significant amounts of commercial pressure from all sides, the office are reluctant to make decisions on the Masters behalf.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by marlinspike View Post
                      It is not approved yet, but heard some chatter that some time in the not too distant future, on some ship types they will roll the job of Chief Engineer and Captain into position one and create a new rank called "Ship Manager".
                      I highly doubt that. Chief Engineer and Master are two separate ranks entirely, with completely different sets of responsibilities. You cannot just merge them into one.

                      Whoever told you that one is talking out of their arse....
                      I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.....

                      All posts here represent my own opinion and not that of my employer.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by YoungMariner View Post
                        Perhaps deep sea on ships with simple cargo operations (container, tanker etc???) but on most of the ship types I've worked on the Master seems to be under significant amounts of commercial pressure from all sides, the office are reluctant to make decisions on the Masters behalf.
                        Master has over-riding authority and, as far as we are concerned, the management of a vessel is on-board and as such we tend to leave them to get on with it. If they want advise, sure, call us, but we're not going to tell you what to do unless there is no other option.
                        I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.....

                        All posts here represent my own opinion and not that of my employer.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Outside of ship handling, the job of Captain is not very difficult in the slightest. On paper Captains have a lot of authority, but in this day and age of instant satellite communication, Captains rarely make major decisions, it all is done shore side in companies offices by HR & chartering departments and Superintendents, and also by following set rules in companies SMS.

                          A couple of decades ago when there was no satellite communication or SMS in place, they may have wielded some power on board, but now not so much. I've seen so many captains now that are never off the phone and emailing companies offices they are in reality glorified secretaries.

                          It is not approved yet, but heard some chatter that some time in the not too distant future, on some ship types they will roll the job of Chief Engineer and Captain into position one and create a new rank called "Ship Manager".
                          Responsibility does not directly correlate with difficulty. I feel you are grossly over simplifying the role, imo.

                          As YM says, it is rare, in my experience, for the office to make unilateral decisions. Legally and culturally the old man is still top dog, so why would someone in the office overrule and fall on their own sword, when they can instead use the 21st century comms to exert constant pressure until the old man makes a decision.

                          For example, I have been present a number of times when the old man has made decisions to sail, or not sail due to weather. The office either had no input (out of hours) or nothing particularly valuable to add. The old man has decided to take a (calculated) risk, one way or the other, with millions of pounds worth of ship, cargo, pax, crew, oil etc...

                          A C/E once described it best when a cadet (foolishly) said that the chiefs job, sat up in the a/c in his cabin, is 'easy'. The top dogs onboard do have it 'easy', shuffling paper, doing as they are told etc... but they work constantly with the sword of Damocles hanging over their head. At the end of the day, if the old man sits on his backside and does exactly what the office says and then misses an eta, he will be the one having to explain himself.

                          Also, somewhat amusingly, my current company has taken to calling the technical superintendent the 'Ship Manager'... The scenario you describe is, imo, never going to happen but if it does there will be some significant changes (stcw anyone?) required.
                          Last edited by condeh; 13 October 2014, 07:32 PM. Reason: fat fingers...

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by marlinspike View Post
                            Outside of ship handling, the job of Captain is not very difficult in the slightest. On paper Captains have a lot of authority, but in this day and age of instant satellite communication, Captains rarely make major decisions, it all is done shore side in companies offices by HR & chartering departments and Superintendents, and also by following set rules in companies SMS.
                            If only it was that simple.

                            Originally posted by marlinspike View Post
                            A couple of decades ago when there was no satellite communication or SMS in place, they may have wielded some power on board, but now not so much. I've seen so many captains now that are never off the phone and emailing companies offices they are in reality glorified secretaries.
                            They are permanently on the phone to the company, because modern legislation means that they require support from the office, because many companies require more and more input from masters and because they are responsible for so much more than simply driving the ships.

                            Originally posted by marlinspike View Post
                            It is not approved yet, but heard some chatter that some time in the not too distant future, on some ship types they will roll the job of Chief Engineer and Captain into position one and create a new rank called "Ship Manager".
                            There have been rumours of this for years, it will quite simply, never happen.
                            Go out, do stuff

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by marlinspike View Post
                              A couple of decades ago when there was no satellite communication or SMS in place, they may have wielded some power on board, but now not so much. I've seen so many captains now that are never off the phone and emailing companies offices they are in reality glorified secretaries.

                              When I were a lad we used to send a cargo figure telegram as we left the Gulf and in return we'd get one from the office that simply read 'LEFO' (Lands End for orders). That was the last we heard from them for 6 weeks
                              io parlo morse

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