My experience with CCG engineers, with whom I have come into contact only after leaving the sea and coming to work ashore, has been somewhat mixed. While I agree that many are very professional in their outlook, they tend to have a common trait. It appears that the majority have no concept of commercial pressures or, indeed, of life at sea. The 28 day on, (normally tied up in Dartmouth Cove or St Johns harbour) 28 day off work cycle engenders an attitude to which a 4 month contract on a tanker which never ties up alongside, or a bulker or box boat which is in port for a matter of hours, is completely alien. Small coastal craft (and I include the coastal vessel Louis St Laurent, largest in the fleet) is about all the vessels they will ever see and heavy fuel is from another planet.
A “Deep Sea” voyage, defined by Coastguard, is one which is 500 miles east of Anticosti Island, or about 120 miles east of Newfoundland, well within the Near Coastal voyage limits of 200 miles. There are 40’ fishing boats which go out farther. The main purpose of the fleet appears to be to keep the port of Montreal open all winter and to tow disabled fishing boats to safe harbour at no charge. (costing commercial towing Companies a lot of money, in my opinion) While I agree that Canada needs maritime snow ploughs and tow trucks, I’m leery that the experience gained there does not prepare an Engineer for 4 months on a commercial ship with minimum down time, fast turnarounds, critical lay days, minimum manning, social isolation, no shore leave and 16 hour days, 7 days a week.
There seems to be a rudimentary understanding of safe work practices and we are getting through with regards to requirements for Certification. CCG is exempt from carrying qualified Officers on their vessels, but they have voluntarily chosen to comply.http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/SOR-2000- ... rbo-ga:s_2
(One Chief was taken aback and became quite aggressive when I asked to see his Certificate) After the initial culture shock of the decision by CCG to obey the law, there was a mad scramble to validate Certificates and update training. I think they are getting on top of it now. Some senior Chiefs are still in the dark ages, still Kings of their own fiefdoms, they have been on the same ship for so long that reality ends at the gangway and their world starts on deck or in their cabin. I have heard, more than once, the comment that "Coast Guard would be great job if it wasn't for the boats!"
I suppose if a young Engineer wants to go that route at the start of a sea career, the great advantage is that all the initial training courses (MED, PPS etc) are paid for and some examinations for more senior Certificates are exempted. These can cost thousands of dollars going the other, “Alternative Path” route. The 36 months qualifying service for 4th Class is included in the programme.
By all means, start off at CCG College, but I recommend getting some experience at sea afterward. I really don’t count being tied up for 28 days “experience at sea”, it’s merely time spent on a small coaster going nowhere.
Discourage incest, ban country "music".