Hawaii Teacher on Board

By Naidah Gamurot

Position: Ordinary Seaman (Mariner 1, entry level, apprentice)

Location: Bridge of the R/V Thomas G. Thompson

Date: October 22, 1998

Describe the responsibilities and daily activities of an ordinary seaman?

An ordinary seaman comes on board to learn ship's maintenance, painting, cleaning, knot-making, watch-standing duties, tying down the ship, rigging, lookout responsibilities and other types of seamanship. She is also responsible for ferrying materials and the liberty launches.

What are some of the skills, physical abilities, and personal characteristics someone should have if considering becoming an ordinary seaman?

A person must be at least 18 years of age. To work at sea, you would need a Seaman's Document, prove citizenship, and pass drug and physical tests. This person should also have good organizational skills. As far as personal characteristics, seamen should be good-natured, be able to take orders and follow directions.

What kinds of high school courses would you recommend for someone considering this type of work?

Math, especially algebra, would be very helpful. If planning to someday advance to captain, you must also have some geometry and trigonometry background to be able to plot courses on the map, as well as communication-type courses such as writing and oral communications.

What additional training is available after high school?

There are several 4-year maritime academies

What is the job market like in this position right out of high school?

Pretty good, just be persistent.

What is the entry-level job for this position?

This is the entry level

What is the next higher level?

Able-bodied seaman

What are the working hours like?

8 hours everyday, 7 days a week. There are no weekends off at sea.

In what kind of environment do you work?

Anywhere on the ship

What is the average starting salary for your job?

On the Thompson, starting base pay is $1,702. In addition to base pay, everyone on board also receives a 15% Sea Premium Pay while the ship is away from home port and 8 hours overtime at time-and-a-half for each Saturday, Sunday, and holiday while the ship is away from home.

What are some positive features of your job?

Travel. The ability to save money while at sea.

What are some negative features of your job?

Being away from family. The routine doesn't vary much, can get pretty monotonous

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