Sea History 139 - Summer 2012

Page 37

Careers in the Marine and Maritime Fiela- - - - - - - -

Un ite d States Navy Deck Seaman Michael Achterling Right now, the US Navy employs a total of 633,037* people {active duty, reserves, and civilians); that's more than the population of Baltimore, Boston, Seattle, or Washington, DC! The navy is like its own little world and, likewise, needs all kinds of people doing all sorts of jobs to keep it functioning. There are shipboard personnel, of course, but there are also thousands of jobs ashore, and they all have to work in sync to keep the navy operating smoothly and efficiently. Careers in the navy range from: ship's officers, nuclear engineers, and Navy SEALS to doctors, x-ray technicians, and dentists; from business and legal experts to photographers and graphic artists; and of course cooks, firefighters, welders-just about any job you can think of. *asof30April2012

Michael Achterling is in

the US Navy and has a special assignment- he works as a Deck Seaman on the crew of USS Constitution, the 1797 fri gate stationed in Boston, M assachusetts. Constitution is unique in the navy in that she is a wooden sailing vessel and serves as a museum ship. H er crew practices both modern and 19th-century seamanship and works to maintain and sh are its histo ry with the public, as well as maintai n the ship itself. M ichael joined the navy fo r fo ur years because he saw it as a good job opportuni tyone that comes with a place to live, a paycheck, and a chance to fini sh college. To get his job as a deck seaman, Michael had to take a th ree-week ap prenticeship course after his nine weeks in Basic Training. Most of the skills fo r deck seaman, he says, he's learned on the job because the duties can vary so widely fro m ship to ship. "A d eck seamen on a destroyer has a very different job than a deck seamen on an aircraft carrier." Aboard Constitution, deck seamen are in charge of the ship's rigging, handling sails, p ainting the hull, and securing the deck, amo ng other duties. My day starts early in the morning. Boatswain's mates will tell me what I will be doing on any given day. The hours are very long, especially when the ship needs deaning or hasn't been painted in a while. Deck seamen are in charge of mooring the ship to the pier or anchoring when the ship comes into port. The deck seamen make the ship look good by lots of deaning, painting, and securing equipment safely and properly. Life in the navy isn't easy, and it takes a combination of self-co nfidence and humili ty to do you r job well , whatever job it is. Fo r M ichael, he says that "Aye, Aye," which means "I understand" or "I will comply," is "probably the most important phrase in the navy. Yo u are not going to be able to please everyone." He says that if you fo llow three major rules: "be on time, keep a well-groomed appearance, and do what yo u're told in a timely fas hion," that yo u'll do just fine. M ichael also advises people to "take some initiative, do the extra things, and learn as m uch as yo u can- it will pay off later." He hopes to take advantage of the navy's tui tion assistance program and get a chance to travel to places aro und the wo rld. M ichael doesn't know yet if he'll make the navy a career, but whether he stays in or leaves the service after his fo ur years are up, the discipline, training, and lessons he's learning now will help him wherever he goes.

Deck Seaman Michael Achterling, (2nd from left} aloft furling Constitution's massive squaresail. SEA HIST ORY 139, SU MME R 201 2

To learn more about USS Constitution, see mil/ussconstitution; to learn about careers in the United States Navy, see