In a way, Military Sealift Command (MSC) came right to Jocelyn Muir’s door; she didn’t have to seek it out. Before that time she worked at a family practice in Virginia Beach, VA as a medical biller and receptionist that helped serve MSC personnel who were preparing for active duty and taking their physical exams. In her role, Muir interacted with many mariners and there was one who she saw with some regularity—Tim Martin. Martin was an MSC recruiter and was responsible for transporting personnel to their appointments. The pair built up rapport, and over time Martin convinced Muir to look into MSC; he even helped guide her as she began the application process.
That was in 2004, and while it was a good change for Muir, it was also a big one. She had four young children at the time, and the transition had hard moments for all of them. “At first, it’s very hard for me and the kids. Then they all got used to it, so now, if I can’t come home, I fly them to come see me,” she said.
Muir began as a Supply Utilityman on the U.S. Navy Ship Mercy and gravitated toward positions requiring culinary skills: Cook Baker, Assistant Cook, Second Cook, and Steward Cook, to name a few. She found a love for cooking and cleaning while on board – taking care of the crew is very rewarding for her. She worked her way up the ranks and is currently a Steward Cook. Some of her favorite things about her work include the vantage point it gives. Each day she gets “to see the crew enjoying their meals and see[ing] our space is very clean. I treat our ship like it’s my home. Pretty much our crew is like my family, so I take care of them.”
Muir notes the advantages and benefits of working with MSC that other mariners do, but her story differs from other mariners in two significant ways: her missions and her marriage.
Muir often sails on ships with Reduced Operating Status (ROS). These ROS ships are home ported in San Diego and have smaller crews than other vessels, 40 mariners and 30-40 active duty military. On the weekend, the cooking responsibilities decrease to half, because the active duty military members are not on board. When this happens and the overall workload is lighter, Muir is occasionally able to travel home to Las Vegas.
And sometimes she doesn’t travel home alone; her husband, Port Chief Engineer Brian Muir, joins her when he is able. The couple actually met while assigned to different ships and both happened to be shore side at the Port Haddlock Washington Naval Weapon Station. Muir points out that MSC started to feel like home, “when I got remarried and [began to] sail with my husband.” The couple is able to separate their professional and personal lives while sailing, but they also enjoy working side by side. She explains, “being married with a mariner just like me? I think it’s awesome and great. Our relationship of being married and working on the ship is so unique. During working hours, we are shipmates; during socializing among other mariners on the ship, we are friends; and when we are alone off work, then we are husband and wife… At [work] we don’t call each other honey; we don’t flirt and give any sign of being married. A lot of people don’t know, or couldn’t tell that we’re married. We show them how respectable and professional we are, and we like to keep that reputation on any ship we go to.”
Muir joined MSC hoping for a change, and she got it. She found new passions, a spouse, and was able to earn security and benefits. For twelve years she has enjoyed her choice, and she plans to continue on until her retirement.