Third Officer Anatoly Chekhira only had working experience on a «river-sea» vessel when he was offered a position on a container vessel in Columbia Shipmanagement’s fleet as a cadet. The seaman explains how to get a job with a good company and how to be promoted quickly.
Professional Seafarer: how did you get a position in Columbia Shipmanagement (CSM)?
Anatoly Chekhira: two years ago, I took part in the Columbia Shipmanagement cadet programme. In 2014, I received a bachelor’s degree from Kherson State Maritime Academy and continued my studies. In autumn, CSM representatives arrived at Kherson and offered the best students the opportunity to take part in their cadet programme. At the time, I already had limited sea duty experience and spoke good English, which gave me acertain advantage over other candidates who had not worked at sea.
Professional Seafarer: what working experience did you have?
Anatoly Chekhira: in my second and third year of study there was a field period when we sailed across Caspian Sea on a «river-sea» vessel.
Professional Seafarer: what about inexperienced students? Can they complete cadet programme in a good company?
Anatoly Chekhira: of course! There are several respectable crewing agencies in Odessa with decent cadet programmes. One of them is CSM; this company picks the best students, those who a redetermined and self-reliant. Candidates who want to work here should show that they are not afraid of responsibility and ready to work hard to achieve their goals.
Professional Seafarer: which duties were the hardest during the cadet programme?
Anatoly Chekhira: cadet programme in CSM was quite different from what I experienced earlier, when I worked full day as an able seaman and studied only during free time after watches. In CSM everything was different: newcomers here aren’t overloaded with duties that are not in their respective areas of expertise. Their main responsibility is to study their duties, not somebody else’s.
Professional Seafarer: is there any difference between working on a container ship and a «river-sea» vessel?
Anatoly Chekhira: you know, container vessels have busy schedules. I work on a relatively small vessel; it has 3000 TEU. It has short routes: each day we visit a new port or even two per 24 hours. In the last sailing, the longest route was six days. In the beginning, I had to get accustomed to it.
Professional Seafarer: which ports do you sail to?
Anatoly Chekhira: Usually it’s the USA, Jamaica and Dominican Republic.
Professional Seafarer: do you have time to come ashore and go sightseeing?
Anatoly Chekhira: it depends on the watch schedule, lying time and many other things. Sometimes I have free time but prefer to stay on board and rest. Seamen say: «Every day on board is Monday». Though I saw a few US cities when we had easier schedules.
Professional Seafarer: was it hard to get a promotion? How many contracts did you complete before that?
Anatoly Chekhira: determined people who work and study hard usually get promoted quickly. I completed a contract as a cadet in CSM and received recommendations for promotion from two different captains. Officers helped a lot with advice and I knew what to ask and do to receive necessary experience. After that I said that I ready for promotion and managers offered me the opportunity to be interviewed by Captain Grygory Mashkevich. During the next sailing I was promoted to … Third Officer.
Professional Seafarer: what new difficulties did you face as a Third Officer?
Anatoly Chekhira: probably, it’s bigger amount of work and there is the necessity to remember a great deal of things. When you study, you have responsibilities. Having started a full-time job you understand: it’s hard to track every nuance and new questions arise all the time.
Professional Seafarer: are you ready for the new promotion? Do you want to become a captain?
Anatoly Chekhira: of course, I’m ready. All in good time, but I think that I will reach this goal pretty soon.