Maggie Collins: Introduction
My name is Margret Collins and my job here on the Okeanos Explorer is the engine utilityman. I work everywhere on this ship, stem to stern, top to bottom. My realm is the engine department but my work takes me everywhere. As an engine utilityman on this ship, I perform many tasks, many different jobs. One of which is the boat engineer on the small boats. I maintain them while they are in the cradle as they are now. When we take them out, I serve as the engine utilityman on the boat, troubleshooting any problems that might arise, making sure everything goes alright. I also maintain our potable water system. That is the system that ensures we have water to brush our teeth, take showers, cook food. I test it every day to make sure it is safe. I also maintain our engines with the rest of the engine department. My aspect of that is to check the engine oil on a daily basis. I change filters and I perform valve lashes – all kinds of maintenance like that. And that's about it!
On the ship I serve as the Seafarer International Union Patrolman or Chairperson on the boat. I help my shipmates understand our agreement that we have with NOAA so that we can work safely and get paid.
Additional Job Details
Salary range, since this is Federal work, is actually set by Congress. I think for my locality pay it is about $52,000/year. There really aren't many educational requirements to be an engine utilityman. A high school diploma helps. A college degree is not necessary but doesn’t hurt. Really, what matters is previous experience and aptitude if you have any.
While we are at sea I work 70 hours per week. That's 10 hours per day, 7 days a week while we are underway. In port I work 8-10 hours a day. I travel all the time. I live on the ship so where the ship goes, I go! Last year, that was a lot of Hawaii and Indonesia. This year it has been Costa Rica. We are on our way to Panama today! After that I will be on the eastern seaboard.