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The Day of the Seafarer – Day 2

In today’s blog we asked Archie Smiley Ex-Chief Engineer, Superintendent, Technical Manager, General Manager, Technical Director and now ‘semi-flexi-retired’, for his thoughts on a career at sea and any advice for those starting out in the industry. 

What did you enjoy most about your career at sea? 

The freedom of the ocean, the breadth of skills and experience gained across multiple disciplines, and most of all the unique bunch of people with whom you share your experiences, and on whom you rely each and every day onboard. 

What drove you to pursue a career at sea?  

I grew up in a shipyard town and apprenticed in the shipyard. My parents had both served in the Royal Navy, so I was immersed in it all my life. 

What challenges have you faced in your career as a seafarer, and how have you overcome these? 

Ever reducing numbers onboard, increased demands from external parties and shore management, the ever-increasing reporting requirements, and the ‘dumbing down’ of skills onboard. 

They have never really been overcome, but once I came ashore into shore management, I worked my entire shore career (35 years), trying to implement positive change. 

What advice would you give to young people who are looking to start a career at sea? 

Speak to several people, both at sea and in shore management, to get a ‘true’ picture of modern seafaring. It is a far cry from the ‘romance’ and ‘call of the sea’ of 30 years ago. It has become more a ‘job’ than a calling or profession, with those onboard being more like ‘operators’ than seafarers and long, hard thought needs to be given as to whether it is the right career path to choose. 

You can follow the hashtag #DayOfTheSeafarer for 2023 content and come back to this blog page tomorrow for another interview. 

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