Andy Combdon

Second Officer

Canship Ugland Ltd.
St. John's, NL

Why did Andy choose this career area?

As a child, Andy loved fishing and boating with his father. He enjoyed exploring the rivers, lakes, and bays in their part of the province. Andy’s cousin graduated from the Nautical Science program at Marine Institute, and he sent postcards home from different ports of call. He impressed Andy with stories of his work, travels, and adventures. Andy became intrigued and decided to follow in his cousin’s footprints.

What’s Andy’s educational background?

Andy did the Marine Institute’s Nautical Science program. His first work term was with Secunda Marine on a cargo vessel trading between Montreal, Cuba, and Trinidad. His second was with Canship, sailing the Canadian and US Altantic coasts. The program gave Andy solid skills for a marine career.

After graduating, he spent four years sailing the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway with Upper Lakes Shipping. The rivers around the Great Lakes gave him valuable navigational experience in close quarters.

Andy enjoyed the work, but he got an excellent offer to work closer to home. He grabbed it. He now works for Canship on a vessel servicing the NL offshore.

What’s Andy’s job all about?

As Second Officer, Andy plans passages, updates charts and nautical publications, maintains bridge equipment, and acts as the Shipboard Safety Officer. He also assists the Chief Officer, whenever possible. Andy enjoys voyage planning and learning about new ports of call.

He says the biggest technical challenge is managing complex cargo systems, which requires knowing how all onboard systems interact. Since bridge equipment is fully integrated, a good comprehension of computer-based programs is essential.

What are Andy’s working conditions like?

Andy usually joins his vessel in Placentia Bay or Conception Bay, NL. If the ship is farther away, he joins it by plane or by helicopter.

When on the ship, Andy works four hours on and four hours off, for a total of eight hours a day. He says he works closer to 12-hour days when he is really busy.

His work environment is high tech and uses the latest in navigational technology. As well, it is highly regulated and safety is very important.

Andy enjoys a private, air-conditioned cabin and bathroom on the ship. Cabins come with internet access and satellite television. In fact, most ships have exercise rooms and libraries. All meals are prepared for the crew, and there are usually three choices at each serving.

What benefits are associated with Andy’s job?

The salary range for Andy’s job is $90,000 - 100,000. Work has brought Andy many places, including the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, the Quebec North shore, the Labrador Coast, the Grand Banks, the Atlantic seaboard, Bermuda, Cuba, Trinidad, Portugal, and England.

Andy works five weeks on and five weeks off. This shift system gives him lots of time at home. It works perfectly as he continues to live in his hometown of Jackson’s Arm, even though he could live anywhere in the world. He can do whatever he wants when he’s on leave, so he gets plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors.

What’s exciting or cool about Andy’s career area?

Andy loves his work-life balance. His job is challenging, responsible, and interesting. As well, doing new courses from time to time means he is still learning new skills. Andy feels fortunate to have chosen such a rewarding career and is thriving on the work and its challenges.

What advice would Andy give to people considering a marine transportation career?

Andy thinks successful marine engineers need to be prudent, punctual, and respectful. They must get along well with others and have a strong work ethic.

Being a ship’s officer is a very responsible position. People who can handle leadership roles ought to consider this career. It’s a great way to see the world and have all the benefits of extended free time at home.