Hawaii Teacher on Board

By Naidah Gamurot

Position: Electrical Technician

Person Interviewed: Robert Hagg

Location: Lab room of the R/V Thompson

Date: October 24, 1998

Rob  Hagg (L. Dolby)

Describe are some of your responsibilities and daily activities?

The Electrical Technician is responsible for all the ship's electrical gear and computer systems, the operations, maintenance, and programming. We see to the needs of the scientists on board. On the Thompson, the duties of the electrical technician also include responsibilities usually given to Systems Administrators and Electronics and Marine Technicians, like operating the winches and other equipment.

What are some of the skills, physical abilities, and personal characteristics someone should have if considering being an oiler?

Good "people" skills. Must be able to stay calm under stressful situations.

What kinds of high school courses would you recommend for someone considering this type of work?

Math, computer and computer programming.

What additional training is available after high school?

Electronic trade school, a degree in electronic engineering, or a stint in the military in electronics or electrical engineering. A degree is not necessary for this position, though pay will be higher with a degree and can become supervisor. Navy or Marine training gives the best background.

What is the entry-level job for this position?

None

What is the next higher level?

It's not a job that is hierarchical

What are your working hours like?

12-hour shifts everyday, including weekends. after the first 8-hours is considered overtime, as well as weekends and holidays. (See the starting salary below.) Average of 6 month at sea per year.

In what kind of environment do you work?

Ship's environment - within close quarters with other people

What is the average starting salary for your job?

Pay rate varies greatly depending on the company you would work for, the ship your assigned to, your educational background, and your experience. The Thompson is considered "top of the line." Starting base pay is about $30,000. In addition to base pay, everyone on board also receives a 15% Sea Premium Pay while the ship is away from home port and 8 hours overtime at time-and-a-half for each Saturday, Sunday, and holiday while the ship is away from home. The electrical technicians also receive 4 hours of overtime daily because they work 12 -hour shifts.

What are some positive features of your job?

This position teaches many different electrical skills that are easily transferable to other jobs on land. Opportunity to work with unique people on unique scientific research. The job varies day-to-day depending on the research being done.

There are lots of travel opportunities.

What are some negative features of your job?

Being away from family and friends for long periods of time.

Talking with Rob…

Rob received much of his training in the service. Right now he's a new hire and still on temporary status. I met Rob in Hilo before joining the crew. We were the two that got sick last Saturday night. While everyone was feeling sorry for me, he caught some ribbing from the crew.

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