When a unique assignment recently popped up for a dozen steward-department Seafarers, they handled it with smooth, enthusiastic professionalism.
That’s the description provided by Recertified Steward Mike Ingram, who teamed up with his fellow SIU members for a two-month voyage aboard the training vessel Kennedy. The ship belongs to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and was chartered by the Texas A&M Maritime Academy.
Seafarers worked with a similar number of employees from a separately contracted food-service provider to make the mission successful.
“It was unique because it was more like restaurant service,” Ingram said. “We spent two months on the ship; the cadet training requires two months at sea. We started May 24 in Massachusetts, went to Cape Canaveral (Florida), then New Orleans, Corpus Christi, Tampa and Massachusetts again. We spent three or four days in each port.”
Ingram said the vessel master initially admitted he didn’t know what to expect from the combined, larger-than-usual steward department. “But he said it went seamlessly,” Ingram recalled. “My staff was very professional and we are used to being selfmotivated. We don’t need to talk about our job; we just do it.
“We learned a lot from each other and [the non-SIU personnel] said they wouldn’t mind working with us in the future,” Ingram added.
The trip included a visit from U.S. Maritime Administrator Mark Buzby, a longtime friend of the SIU and tireless advocate for the U.S. Merchant Marine.
Ingram concluded, “Everybody did their jobs. Sometimes you have to think outside the box. We made it work.”
SIU members aboard the Kennedy included Ingram, Steward/Baker John Stephens, Chief Cook Derrick Williams, ACUs Ines Castillo Flores, Julio Ciliezar, Pauline Crespo, David Simon and Annie Walker, and SAs Valentin Arzu, Nahun Bernardez, Fernando Castillo and Ariel Lopez.