Gary Bishop


Canship Ugland Ltd.
St. John's, NL

Why did Gary choose this career area?

Gary was always interested in mechanics, and he was good at math and physics. Although he knew little about the marine engineering program, he knew about the shortage of marine engineers, the six months of paid vacation each year, the free travel around the world, and the very good salaries.

What’s Gary’s educational background?

Gary attended Marine Institute right after high school and completed the Marine Engineering Technology Program. His program included work terms aboard a variety of vessels. Gary loved the work from his first day at sea.

After graduation, Gary gained the required sea service and passed the Transport Canada exams in order to become a chief engineer. His STCW95 license allows him to work as a Chief Engineering Officer, without restrictions, on any ship. He is now studying part time toward a Bachelor of Maritime Studies.

What’s Gary’s job all about?

Gary works on the MV Umiak I, the largest and most powerful ice-breaking bulk carrier in the world. It is one of only two commercial ships that can sail in the Arctic year round without an ice- breaking escort.

As chief engineer, Gary is responsible for the machinery that propels and operates multi-million dollar ships. He manages a dynamic group of engineers with various levels of experience, all while working within international regulations, company policy, and union contracts. The job is demanding and exciting.

Gary manages a state-of-the-art main propulsion engine producing 30,000 HP. The engine is operated by 15 computers and meets strict Arctic pollution regulations. His work area is extremely safe as well as highly regulated and monitored.

Marine engineering officers operate and maintain the propulsion systems onboard vessels. They also manage the "hotel" facilities, electrical distribution system, and all mechanical systems from stem to stern. Their duties include designing, operating, repairing, budgeting, reporting to head office, and supervising subordinates.

What are Gary’s working conditions like?

Gary works six-week shifts, and he flies out to meet the ship wherever it may be. While onboard, he works 8-12 hours per day.

As a senior officer, Gary enjoys large, comfortable accommodations, including satellite TV in his room. He has access to a gym with modern equipment and computers with games and internet access. Well-prepared meals are another bonus of life at sea.

What benefits are associated with Gary’s job?

Chief Engineer salaries range from $110,000 - $180,000; in Gary’s case, this means working six months a year.

There are many on-shore career options for marine engineers with this kind of education and experience. A person could work as a manager, fleet superintendent, shore engineer for a shipping company, marine engineering consultant, propulsion supervisor in a shipyard, classroom Instructor with a marine school, engine room simulator Instructor, power plant operating engineer, ISO-ISM auditor, marine insurer surveyor, Transport Canada surveyor or examiner, dry-dock marine engineer or specialist, or marine incident investigator.

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

Gary’s classmates have done everything from laying cable off the coast of Hawaii, cruising in the Caribbean, ice breaking in the North, transporting oil in the Middle East, trading containers in China, hauling sheep from Australia, moving bulk cargo to Europe, to supplying oil rigs off Newfoundland. The jobs are never boring. Although Gary is able to work anywhere in the world, he is happy to live in NL.

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

There is a worldwide shortage of marine engineers. This career would best suit those who are mathematically inclined, independent problem solvers, team players, and hard workers. Of course, it helps to be interested in hands-on mechanical engineering.