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Ship Types

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  • Ship Types

    I know there have been a few posts on this, and I thought I'd share my experience. I've been at sea little more then 10 years, o not long in the big scheme of things, but more then the average person stays. This is really my personal opinion, but might help other people.

    HeavyLift Ships
    I started out on Heavylift ships and sailed on trip as officer on them, actually some of the ships were multipurpose which meant they also carried general cargo or project cargo. The cargoes varied massively, whether it was loading yachts in Monaco, discharging pipes and umbilciles to pipe layers in west Africa or wind turbines in the Far East. The work could be pretty intense with loading in 6 or 7 ports in Northern Europe (including moving berths several times a day), followed by a wonderful few weeks on passage to the next port. I thoroughly enjoyed this work, it was interesting challenging and with 3 or 4 days in different ports worldwide you could get ashore in some interesting places off the beaten track. Sadly, I was replaced by colleagues from South East Asia and made redundant.

    Cruise Ships
    I worked for HAL and had a great balance or work hard, play hard. The hours with intensive watches, two standbys a day and various additional duties whether its planning a world voyage or climbing through AC rooms checking dampers, followed by hosting a dinner table, partying with steiners, dancers and casino staff before retiring for the night (or not...). The politics can be bad on some ships and you can sail with some absolutely egotistical wankers, but most people just want to do their job and get on. I enjoyed cruise ships a lot, learn't a lot from some very skilled people, got lots of hands on ship handling and had a great social life (met my wife). Sadly the contracts are long and the money is awful, even in senior ranks. Promotion isn't particularly quick.

    Standby Vessels
    What can I say? North Sea, Unionised Brits and Eastern Europeans who barely speak English and its totally boring. Slightly less boring when on close standby, but erm boring. A means to an end, most people have a reason they are there. I only did this as a temp job between work, I wouldn't rule out doing it again, but it would be well down on my list.

    Super yachts
    This is the hardest one, because yachts vary so much. The work is very competitive and cut throat, you have to be ready for people trying to screw you over and take your job at every turn on some yachts, although I've been on some great yachts with a great crew. Generally the larger yachts are mostly ex merchant guys, generally because over 3000gt they need unlimited tickets, and on Class 1 yachts some cruise ship experience might help get you through the PSSCs. Most yachts expect the officers including the chief officer to be on deck washing down, painting and varnishing or driving tenders, this is in addition to all of the normal ISM and normal duties as an Officer. The money can be great, the social life can be wonderful and with excellent budgets and generally well skilled Officers and Crew it can be a comfortable life. The negatives? You have to toe the line strictly, upset the Captain or Owner and its goodbye, if its a busy yacht your pockets will be full but your life will be non stop (very long hours), good leave is hard to come by as Deckies and jobs a competitive. It isn't a job where you finish duty or go home on leave without a phone call for one thing or another.

    This is just my brief snippet, I've enjoyed all the ships I've worked on, and at the end of the day a ship is just a ship underneath.

    Sorry if the spelling and grammar is poor, this is written on an iPad with a glass of wine in hand.

  • #2
    I have been at sea for 20 years now (how the hell did that happen?) and have been on the following...

    Cruise ships as a cadet / junior officer.

    Despite having some good port calls with decent time ashore, I pretty much hated my time there although as the junior officer on watch when newly qualified it gave me plenty of time to learn the basics without any pressure. I found the politics and back biting (particularly within the technical department) to be utterly horrible to live with and almost left the sea altogether after my cadetship and 2 years qualified.

    Dredgers as second engineer

    I sailed on both small coastal aggregate dredgers and large (jumbo) maintenance dredgers, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the coastal dredgers and was only tempted away by the promise of better money on the jumbo dredgers, the company I went to were great to work for, the ships were well maintained and the work was very interesting, but at that time the safety culture onboard was so poor that I decided it wasn't for me after a while.

    Ro-ro ro-pax as second engineer and chief engineer

    Worked for a few different ro-ro companies doing both shorts sea and deep sea work and found them generally very interesting from a technical point of view with a good balance between leave / salary and work /lifestyle onboard. I would thoroughly recommend ro-ros for engineers / electricians as I think the experience you gain on these types of ships will set you in good stead to go anywhere.

    Cruise ships as chief

    I was chief on ships owned by a company who operated at the lower end of the market and operated by a company with very little passenger ship experience, the advantages of this was that their was far less bullsh1t onboard than with the major players, the disadvantage was that I had to keep a pair of scissors with my ticket for when port state control came onboard and found some of the particularly shoddy practices which went on. If anyone fancies trying cruise ships I would definitely recommend doing so after getting second engineer chief mates ticket.

    Offshore as second

    I have only done 2 trips on anchor handling tug / supply vessels and I am really quite enjoying it for the most part, the offshore industry is very different to standard merchant shipping and it is taking a little bit of getting used to, but the opportunities to move ashore are excellent and I think I will probably stay offshore for a few years now before thinking about going ashore within the offshore industry. While I have only sailed as second I have had a good look at the chief's job and (with my present employers anyway) it looks like a lot less stress and bullsh1t than on cruise ships.
    Go out, do stuff