First Assistant Engineer
Born and raised in Kingston, TN, Mr. Jay Pierce took a road often traveled by many young adults. He pursued a college degree. After obtaining his Bachelors of Science in Industrial Technology, he worked as a cost estimator for a mechanical contractor in Knoxville, TN, and was getting by, but not ahead. His former employer is a retired Military Sealift Command Chief Engineer and urged Pierce to consider a seagoing career, especially one with MSC.
Pierce considered it and eventually went through the process to obtain his US Coast Guard Merchant Mariner’s Document and was hired by MSC as a Wiper. Since joining the Command 4 years ago, Pierce, now 31, is sailing as a 2nd Assistant Engineer . After his first tour with MSC, Pierce was able to test for and pass all of the Qualified Member of the Engine Department ratings with the Coast Guard. “The ease of entry, the ability to receive training and accrue sea time and opportunity to move both laterally and advance has made joining MSC a decision I will never regret” stated Pierce.
Despite the long process to become employed with MSC, the opportunities have far since far outnumbered the wait. Pierce has sailed on the USNS Kiska, USNS Coronado and the USNS Bridge – four tours total. He lived in Japan for nine months while assigned to the Coronado which allowed him to soak in the Japanese culture. He has also enjoyed visits to Sydney, Australia, Victoria, British Columbia and the Philippines.
When asked what the best part of his job was, his initial comment was “that’s a biggie”. “Once you get over the fact that you are away from home a lot, there are several bonuses that make the day in and day out experiences worthwhile. The job offers great ports of call, good pay, the ability to take leave without pay (if there is a need), job advancement, no commute and the constant new challenge are just a few.” Was the final answer from Pierce.
Shipboard life is rather intimate, but there is ample space for you to be by yourself and take a breather As it relates to living space, Pierce has not had many issues with privacy. On the USNS Kiska he had one Electrician and has passed his 3rd roommate. On some of the newly converted ships to MSC there is an allowance of $30 dollars a day for having to share space. “On the Bridge,” chuckled Pierce “the space shared was originally designed for 45 Navy sailors and was shared by the 12 day workers in the engine department. The additional money was always a strong reminder to continue to be flexible and deal with the ‘inconvenience’.”
Having never imagined a life at sea, Pierce has taken his now passion for the Command so much so that he has recruited his brother and one of his friends to a career afloat. “I never intended to be a recruiter” said Pierce “but I now feel strongly about the opportunity that MSC can afford to a lot of different individuals.” He feels so strongly that Pierce worked with the US Coast Guard (USCG) to help his alma mater, the Industrial Technology Department at Tennessee Technological University become USCG certified. This means future graduates will have the ability to after being tested by the USCG, be issued an MMC with Electrician, and Machinist ratings. “According to the USCG, my degree could not “help” me get more than entry level endorsements, but hopefully future grads will have the choice to enter the maritime industry able to qualify for more than the entry-level rating and help MSC fill shortages in the unlicensed engine ratings.” said Pierce.
UPDATE: Over ten years Mr. Jay Pierce continued to advance his MSC career and on June 16, 2013, became First Assistant Engineer.