Hawsepiper Encourages Seafarers To Upgrade, ‘Give 110 Percent’


Piney Point Grad Finds Career Rewarding, Worthwhile


December 2014


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Although the maritime industry at times feels like an unintentionally well-kept secret, the U.S. Merchant Marine was no mystery to Roderick Frazier (pictured below) when the Florida native was separating from the U.S. Air Force in 1997.


“Being from Jacksonville, I realized the industry and maritime careers are vital to the local economy,” Frazier said. “My dad was a 30-year International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1408 member, and I have a cousin that sails with the SIU as a chief cook (Larry Griffin) who inspired me to join this growing and important industry by way of the SIU.”

In an email to the Seafarers LOG, Frazier then described his 12 years as an SIU member in Twitter parlance: “#rightchoice”


That experience began in the apprentice program at the union-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education, located in Piney Point, Maryland. Frazier was the chief bosun in his class, and he found the school a solid launching pad for his second career.


“I sailed mostly as an OMU because of my love for steam plants, but I hold a QMED rating as well,” he noted. “I enjoyed travelling and building relationships with individuals from different places. Ship life is very diverse.”


Frazier, 39, now belongs to the Seafarers-affiliated American Maritime Officers (AMO) and sails as a chief engineer. He is finishing a college degree and developing his own business, but plans to continue sailing.


He also hasn’t lost touch with the SIU.


“I still visit the Jacksonville hall because I developed good friendships there,” he said. “A lot of guys mentored me through the years; (QMED) Milton Israel Sr., (fellow hawsepipers) Milton Israel Jr. and Tim Stagg were key in assisting me with career choices, and bosuns from other ports – Rodney Roberson and Lonnie Porchea – helped make my transition from the Air Force easy by sharing knowledge with me to improve my seagoing skills.”


‘Learned a Lot’

Asked his opinion of the Paul Hall Center, Frazier pointed out that in addition to completing the apprentice program, he returned in subsequent years for upgrading classes including FOWT, advanced firefighting and others.


“I loved my time at the school,” he recalled. “The support of the staff, educators and other personnel was always professional. I learned a lot there about life and about the sea.”


His favorite voyage took place aboard the Cornhusker State in 2003.


“I was with (OS, now AB) Brian Kimbrough and (AB) Roosevelt Clark, who were both from the Jacksonville hall,” said Frazier, who still lives in Jacksonville but also spends significant time in Atlanta and Jamaica. “We started as trainees together. It was a long trip, but we had fun working and accomplishing the mission.”


While Frazier’s awareness of the industry already was strong even in his first days as an apprentice, he knows not everyone has the same background. With that in mind, he offered some insight into maritime as well as advice for those just beginning their respective careers.


“First, the maritime industry is arguably the most important one to be employed in, in any capacity,” he said. “We depend on the import and export of goods that basically balance the world economies and allow us to help ourselves and other nations. Stop all ships for just one day, or any part of the maritime logistical system, and the world would feel it.


“To those just getting into the industry,” he continued, “I’d say give 110 percent to yourself, family and shipmates every day. Upgrade frequently, and if pursuing a license, sail on all QMED ratings working up to third (assistant engineer), different propulsion plants, all for the experience. If joining the deck, learn as much as you can from the mates, especially the second mate: navigation, rules of the road, etc. Get dynamic-positioning certified because we have oil-field union jobs as well.”


He concluded, “Give it your best, always be a team player, experience things for yourself and remain positive throughout all situations.”



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