“Military to Maritime” Event aims to attract former military to marine jobs
By Clifford Davis Wed, Jun 4, 2014 @ 5:59 pm | updated Thu, Jun 5, 2014 @ 6:36 am
Veterans on the First Coast had a unique opportunity Wednesday to break into the maritime industry as Crowley Marine and the American Maritime Partnership created the Military to Maritime event.
Dozens of companies and government departments set up booths to appeal to the hundreds of veterans who turned out for the event held at JaxPort’s cruise terminal.
“The recent growth in the maritime industry really demanded that we do this,” said Michael Roberts, senior vice president at Crowley Marine. “This is the first time, really in decades, that there has been anything like this.”
Largely due to the energy boom, the merchant marine is in need of qualified employees, Roberts said. In fact, 66 percent of the cargo coming out of Florida are petroleum products.
“It’s great for us to get military veterans on board,” he said. “They know the chain of command and they’ve worked for an organization with serious things to do.”
As for the veterans, many of them were happy to have the opportunity to speak with employers who want and need the skills they’ve developed.
Edward Swanson retired from the Navy in 2012 as a senior chief.
“I’m a mechanical engineer, basically a diesel mechanic and inspector so I wanted to come out and find a company that wanted the skills that I have,” he said. “I know there are a lot of things out there, but this is a lot easier for me.
“I’m looking forward to it and I’m very excited about it.”
There is certainly potential for civilian mariners in the Sunshine State.
Florida ranks second in the nation with 52,140 jobs tied to the maritime industry, according to the American Maritime Partnership. Only Louisiana has slightly more.
“It’s really the best-kept secret out there,” said Crowley’s Margaret Reasoner, one of the event’s organizers.
And though Navy or Coast Guard experience can be useful for civilian mariners, Army and Marine veterans also are in demand.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, CSX and BAE Systems were just a few of the big name entities represented. Jack Smith was on hand to assist veterans with their questions. Though he now works for Crowley, he’s worked in the marine industry for years, often helping veterans transition.
He said veterans are a perfect fit for the maritime industry and shouldn’t be intimidated by the learning curve.
“Anyone in this room can do anything there is to do on a ship, given enough training,” he said. “That’s the really satisfying part – getting someone to achieve something they never thought they could.”
Job seekers disembark from the tugboat Defender; hundreds of veterans attended the Military to Maritime Career Information Day.
The next tour group heads across the pier to the tugboat Defender. Hundreds of veterans attended the Military to Maritime Career Information Day at the Jaxport Cruise Terminal on Wednesday, June 04, 2014, in Jacksonville.
Hundreds of veterans attended the Military to Maritime Career Information Day at the JaxPort Cruise Terminal on Wednesday. Employers are looking for military veterans because of their knowledge and work in an organization “with serious things to do.”
The next tour group boards the tugboat Cathleen E. Moran. Hundreds of veterans attended the Military to Maritime Career Information Day at the Jaxport Cruise Terminal on Wednesday, June 04, 2014, in Jacksonville.