Our owns five freighters, ranging from 242-260 feet long, deliver cargo from our terminal in Seattle to towns in Western Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, such as Sand Point, Chignik, King Cove, Cold Bay, False Pass, and Dutch Harbor.
Each vessel has a captain, chief engineer, mate, A.B., deckhand, and cook. The A.B. needs a Merchant Mariner’s Credential (MMC) from the Coast Guard. Deckhands, wipers, and cooks do not need a MMC.
Watch this video to find out more about the jobs of A.B. and deckhand or this video for more about life aboard as an wiper, or this video for more about life aboard the ship.
A.B.s, deckhands, and wipers all load cargo on and off the boats, act as lookout, and perform maintenance work such as painting and splicing rope. Wipers tend to work more in the engine room when the boat is traveling, but they work cargo as much as anyone else. For the A.B., deckhand, and wiper, each work day is at least 12 hours long. During cargo operations (which take up a third of the voyage), the hours can be far longer.
Two-thirds of the trip is underway time, standing watches, doing cleaning, and maintenance. One-third of the 25 day voyage is spent in cargo operations. Cargo operations are rough physical work in an extreme environment. Main duties of cargo operation are: driving yard-and-stay cargo gear; operating lift trucks; slinging loads; working with lashing chain, chain binders, and dunnage; and sweeping and cleaning cargo holds. This is a fast-paced job, suitable to high-energy individuals. Carefully read the physical requirements of the job below.
These are full time jobs. Crew members are placed on an annual schedule, showing when they will sail, and when they will have time off. Most trips are about 25 days long, though some may be longer or shorter. A.B.s, wipers, and deckhands usually work a set of one, two or three voyages in a row, with one to five days off in Seattle in between. At the end of the voyage set, the crew member gets one or two voyages off (28-56 days on average).
READ CAREFULLY: IF YOU FEEL YOU ARE NOT UP TO THIS KIND OF WORK, DO NOT APPLY.
A.B.s, deckhands, and wipers go on 25-day voyages in what could be rough waters, causing the vessel to experience random and severe motions. Crew may be sedentary for the first nine days and then perform extreme physical labor.
Our A.B.s must be able to lift 100 lb. to shoulder height and be able to breathe in a freezer hold with an air temperature of -10°F.
They also need to be able to stand on their feet for long periods of time, often in arctic conditions. Due to the probability of rough seas, they need to be able to move about a cluttered engine room without an unusual chance of stumbling and be relatively insensitive to vertigo.
All employees undergo rigorous fire fighting and respiratory protection training throughout their employment. People with respiratory problems or anyone who experiences claustrophobia while wearing respirators should keep this in mind when applying.