These ships don’t run themselves, you know! I’ve seen men and women around the ship checking on things this whole time. What are they doing? Today I talked to Brian and Kathy, two of the oilers.
Oilers ensure the safe operation of the engineering plant. They take care of the systems that run the ship and keep it comfortable for the occupants. They work 4 hours on, 8 hours off, 4 hours on, 8 hours off making the rounds each shift and working on any necessary maintenance. Brian’s favorite part is making rounds, checking that the temperatures, pressures and other conditions of each system are consistent. He looks for signs of damage, sparks, leaks, or other problems. He also makes repairs and does maintenance tasks.
There is a lot of variety in Brian’s work. He might be doing plumbing, welding, electrical work, painting or working on the diesel generators or the electric motors. The biggest challenges come from trouble-shooting problems – figuring out what went wrong and how to fix it.
How did Brian and Kathy become oilers? They attended the Seattle Maritime Academy following the engineering track. Each had 9 months of classes and a 60-day internship and earned endorsements for all areas of the engineering plant. Brian worked on a variety of ships for 10 years before getting a job on the Thompson. This is where he wanted to be, and he is very happy to be a permanent oiler for the TGT. Kathy still works on a variety of ships, including tugs and enormous cruise ships. She’s a temporary oiler on the TGT now and for the next trip which will take her close to Antarctica. After this next trip, she will have traveled on ships from the Arctic to the Antarctic!
For Brian, the best parts of working on a ship are there are no bills to pay, the food is great, and he has a nice schedule with plenty of time for reading books. Brian generally works 3 months on the ship then has 3 months off. After about 2 months off he looks forward to returning to the ship. Brian’s been around the world twice now and worked in every ocean, as far north as Iceland and south to the Roaring 40’s. He enjoys experiencing different countries and trying the local food in every port.
Your happy in the water friend,