From The Navy To The MSC
Military Sealift Command
Headquartered in Norfolk, the United States Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) provides ocean transportation to the Department of Defense. MSC operates about 110 non-combatant, civilian-crewed ships that conduct specialized missions around the world, move military cargo and supplies, and replenish Navy ships.
Military Sealift Command’s workforce consists of more than 9,500 people, most of whom serve at sea. MSC is currently looking to fill seagoing vacancies in the following departments: deck, engine, supply, culinary, and communications. Their biggest hiring needs are for first officers, first assistant engineers, and chief radio electronics technicians. There are also shore-side vacancies in various departments.
More than 40 percent of MSC’s workforce have military experience, and the organization focuses on recruiting veterans. MSC attends military-specific job fairs throughout the year and visits with veteran representatives to educate them on the openings, processes, and benefits of MSC employment. MSC also hosts its own military-specific hiring events aboard Navy ships to reach sailors approaching their discharge dates.
MSC knows that veterans make good employees because their skills and experiences, such as discipline and respect for the chain of command, are critical for success at sea. Other traits imperative to the organization’s mission are cooperation, support, and teamwork. In addition, veterans are accustomed to being away from home for extended periods of time. Veterans are familiar and comfortable with MSC’s structured and regimented work environment, though it is more relaxed than that of the military. The camaraderie can be hard to find in other civilian workforce environments. Veterans can also appreciate the job security, federal benefits, rapid advancement opportunities, and paid leave that comes with MSC employment.
A VETERAN SUCCESS | ALFRED ALEXANDER BROWNE JR.
Alfred Alexander Browne Jr. separated from the Navy as a petty officer 2nd class after 10 years of service. “I was responsible for maintaining and repairing the communications and navigational electronic equipment onboard naval ships,” he said.
MSC hired Browne in 2012 as a first radio electronics technician, and recently promoted him to chief radio electronics technician. “I am directly responsible to the ship’s communications officer for maintaining the local area network, electronic key management system, radio electronic equipment, and administrative duties,” he said.
Browne discovered MSC while serving in the Navy. “I was departing from my second command, the decommissioned USS Nassau,” he said. “I had to take a helicopter from the Nassau to the USNS Kanawha. I talked with a couple of the MSC guys, and I was immediately intrigued with the opportunity.”
When he went to work at MSC, it helped that he was already familiar with the equipment in use by the organization. “Most of the equipment I worked on in the Navy is prevalent in MSC,” he said. “It was, for the most part, a smooth transition in terms of dealing with the electronic equipment.”
He was also able to adjust quickly to a life at sea. “Both MSC and the Navy are seagoing jobs,” Browne said. “MSC is actually more of a seagoing job than the Navy. I have done two deployments with the Navy, and the routines I learned there have helped me adjust with MSC. I have learned to have a nonchalant attitude when it comes to adversity and handle it with poise.”
His advice to those still in the service is to work on their education. “Get your journeyman certifications done, and also get your degree,” he said. “It will help you immensely in getting recruited in MSC or any private company looking for someone with our skill set.”
Preparation is also key. “Make sure you have all your ducks in a row,” he said. “Take care of all your medical situations in advance. Attend the TAP class so you can learn how to present yourself to civilian job opportunities – because the military language doesn’t translate all the time in the civilian world. You should make two copies of all documents you have before you get out, including your DD-214.”
He believes that MSC is a good place for veterans for many reasons: “If you didn’t have a chance to retire from active duty, you can buy your federal time back and continue your journey towards federal retirement,” he said. “If you do happen to retire, there is another opportunity to retire and have two paychecks coming in for the rest of your life after time served. You also have a lot more freedom in MSC than the Navy.”
He encourages anyone interested in MSC to get rolling now. “The whole process takes anywhere from four to six months. I would also say get help writing your federal resume and your knowledge and skill assessment (KSA) questions so you can look great for the job.”