Veterans Need to be Extra Cautious with Maritime Jobs

Many veterans are prime candidates for the maritime industry. With their time spent being part of a team coupled with specialized experience in certain job functions that can be applied in the maritime field, there are several opportunities that are a good fit for veterans. However, it’s important for veterans to understand the risks that come along with working in such a high-risk industry.

Veteran Skills Matched With Maritime Work

Although there are quite a few differences in merchant marine vessels and military vessels–such as most merchant marine vessels being privately owned–there are also similarities. For example, many of the laws governing merchant marine vessels are enforced by the United States Coast Guard.

Jobs aboard merchant marine vessels are similar to the occupations veterans performed while in service, such as engineering, deck work, and even steward work.

There is a wide array of jobs in the maritime field that are possibly perfect matches for veterans. For example, many veterans have experience with transportation and would be an excellent asset in the maritime industry’s transportation network. Other job matches for veterans include:


A myriad of veterans have gained invaluable experience working with electronics, which can applied to the maritime industry in a variety of ways. Examples include electronics technician installers, field service technicians, electronic assemblers, resource engineer, mechanical technician, and more.

It’s important to note, however, that electronics jobs, especially in the maritime field in which many workers are constantly around water, comes with serious risks and dangers.

For example, an exposed wire can cause electric shock not only to the person working around the electronics, but also to anyone nearby, especially if the ship is flooded. Although some shocks are mild, others are so strong that it can lead to other injuries if the worker is thrown several feet. In addition, if the electrical shock is strong enough, it can lead to complete muscle loss.

Subsea Operations

Another area in which many veterans may excel is subsea operations. Common careers in the maritime industry include tree application engineers, completion engineers, inspectors, facilities management, piping engineers, control engineers, and more.

Similar to other jobs in the maritime industry, those working in the subsea operations section are at risk for accidents and injuries, especially if working around faulty equipment and technology. Other accidents and injuries can stem from engine room mishaps, slippery, non-skid surfaces on decks, broken pipes, and toxic gas and chemical fumes.

Crane and Cargo

Crane and forklift operators are in high demand in the maritime industry. Numerous veterans who had similar job roles in the military may be a great asset to the maritime field. Examples of crane and cargo careers in the maritime industry include straddle carriers, top lifters, reach stackers, and forklift operators.

As with other maritime jobs, crane and cargo work comes with it own set of dangers and risks. In fact, much like repair and maintenance accidents, an unforeseen mishap during crane and cargo work can lead to fatal injuries. Typical reasons for crane and cargo accidents include:

  • An overloaded crane or improperly balanced cargo
  • Faulty and/or broken cargo bundle straps
  • Improper setting of outriggers

Repair and Maintenance

Repair and maintenance covers many areas that veterans may find to be a perfect match, including vessel maintenance, equipment maintenance, electronics maintenance, dock maintenance, engine building and repair, and much more.

Although the job requires maintenance and repair of important maritime parts and equipment, the fact that repair is needed in the first place poses dangerous risks for maritime workers. It’s imperative that the correct training and education are provided to all repair and maintenance workers beforehand as injuries in the repair and maintenance field can lead to devastating, often fatal consequences.

Although veterans may enter the marine industry with their own set of skills, it’s important that training in regards to maritime vessels, equipment, and parts is always provided.

Other Risks That Veterans Should Be Aware Of

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, commercial fishing and jobs related to commercial fishing were the third deadliest job in 2012. In fact, there were 32 fatalities in commercial fishing alone in 2012. The statistics shouldn’t dissuade veterans from working in the maritime industry, but instead give a realistic picture of the risks involved in maritime work.

In order to avoid injuries, veterans should understand the reasons that accidents and injuries, and take as much precaution as possible. Other most common reasons for maritime injuries include:

  • Adverse weather conditions
  • Falling overboard
  • Capsizing
  • Chemical spills
  • Broken guards, rails, and steps
  • Rough waters

Although prior training is usually required before starting work, there are instances in which maritime workers are not as thoroughly trained as they should be. Lack of in-depth training has caused a plethora of accidents and injuries in the maritime industry, many of which leave seamen without work for several months and even years.

That being said, the maritime industry seems to be an excellent fit for many veterans, and even those currently enlisted who are looking for a way to continue to use what they’re learning.While serving our country is an admirable occupation, many veterans are left wondering how and where to apply their skills once they leave the military.