Chapter 10


Maritime Services

One very good way to break into the offshore industry is through offshore marine services. After the first offshore well was drilled off the coast of Louisiana in 1947, oil companies relied strongly on local fishermen well acquainted with the nearby waters to furnish the rigs with the needed supplies. That is how the first generation of Louisiana's offshore marine fleet began.

Today's fleet is a far cry from those early pioneering years. Vessels today are sleek, highly maneuverable, ultra-powerful, and equipped with the latest navigational and radio equipment. Vessels range in size from 30-foot to 100-foot crew boats, up to 800-foot supply vessels.

Crew boats are fast and used primarily to transport crews and light supplies to and from the rigs. Supply boats transport heavier and bulkier items, such as drilling water, potable water, diesel fuel, drilling mud and other chemicals, along with pipe and larger equipment. Many supply vessels double up as towing / anchor handling vessels to move the rigs when the need occurs. Most supply boats are 300 to 500 gross tons. Utility vessels are between crew boats and supply boats in size and are used to ferry men and equipment between rigs in a known field. They also serve as standby evacuation boats for emergencies.

There are several thousand boats engaged in the offshore marine industry, a fact that means there are tens of thousands of jobs in the offshore maritime industry alone! People quit these jobs every day, and new people are hired every day. Boat companies are always hiring!

All positions on boats require some form of US Coast Guard license or endorsement. Ordinary Seaman's papers, referred to as a Z-card (pronounced zee card). Entry rating Z-cards are issued by the Coast Guard without any written examinations. To obtain these entry level endorsements one has to present a letter of employment or commitment for employment from the company one will be working for, pass a physical, and pass a background check for drug convictions or other felonies. Entry ratings for the deck department are classified as Ordinary Seamen. Entry ratings for the engine room are classified as Wipers. Entry ratings in the stewards department are classified as Food Handlers.

Here are the positions available on the crew and supply boats:

Entry level position. Deckhands are responsible for general labor and cleaning on the boat. They do whatever is needed whenever it's needed.
Entry level position. Wipers provide labor and cleaning in the engine room under the supervision of the engineer.
Self explanatory, but I can tell you one thing; if you're the cook, you had better be a good one.
Able Seaman
These are the guys that make the deck department hum. ABs are responsible for general upkeep and painting of the vessel and its equipment, including mooring equipment, anchors, chains and lines, and lifeboats and safety equipment. ABs usually supervise the deckhands.
One promotion level above wiper.
Assistant Engineer
The next promotion level above oiler, the AE usually stands watch while the engineer sleeps.
Chief Engineer
Just like you'd guess, the Chief is in charge of everything that makes the vessel work. Engines, engine room, and any and all electrical or mechanical equipment.
The mate is usually the second-in-command. He stands his watch while the captain sleeps.
The captain of the vessel holds a Master's endorsement from the Coast Guard. The master has all the power and authority of his counterpart on a large ocean-going ship.


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