By Travis Weger, MSCEURAF Public Affairs
| | March 23, 2020
Second Officer Kevin Coleman gives the navigation brief to watch standers while underway on the bridge of USNS Yuma (T-EPF 8). EPF class ships are designed to transport 600 short tons of military cargo 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots. The ship is capable of operating in shallow-draft ports and waterways, interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, and on/off-loading a combat-loaded Abrams main battle tank (M1A2). (Photo by Travis Weger)
During USNS Yuma’s underway, I had the opportunity to spend the week with Second Officer Kevin Coleman. I met Kevin at dinner a few months earlier during their port visit to Naples with the Captain and several other members of the crew. After dinner, Kevin told me about his unique career path, how he joined MSC at 48 years old and was proof that it is never too late to start a new career. Yuma got back underway and I promised Kevin I would sit down with him to hear the rest of his story.
A month later, the Yuma was back in Naples and I sprung at the opportunity to spend time underway to hear the rest of his story. This is the highlight of our meeting underway in the Adriatic Sea on the Yuma.
What is your name, title and what ship are you on?
My name is Kevin Coleman, I am the second officer on USNS Yuma.
What is unique about your career with MSC?
I didn’t join MSC until I was 48 years old. I was $30,000 in debt and I wasn’t sure what my next step would be. I had an Ordinary Seaman Merchant Marine Credential, so a friend of mine said I should check out MSC.
When I hired on, I set a five-year plan for myself to get my mate’s license. Now I am 62 years old, I have paid off all my debts, including my student loans which MSC has helped with, I have almost paid off my house and now I am getting ready to retire in a few years.
What is your job with MSC?
I am a Second Officer. As such, I am the Navigator and Operations Officer on board the Yuma. I handle the navigation of the ship and manage Navy messaging.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I am responsible for arrivals and departures of the ship, Navigation Briefs and Navy messaging, including the daily operational summary reports, movement reports and logistics requirements. I also stand regular watches while in port and at sea and manage the junior officers and watch standers.
What does the USNS Yuma do to assist the joint warfighter?
This ships general purpose is to move gear and personnel. Lately, we have been working with the Seabees moving their gear around. We have been hitting some great ports during this underway such as Gibraltar, United Kingdom; Corfu, Greece; Odesa, Ukraine; Poti, Georgia; Varna, Bulgaria; Izmir, Turkey; Ashdod, Israel; Málaga, Spain and Astakos, Greece.
What would you tell someone looking to join MSC?
With life at sea there are many hardships, like missing family weddings, funerals and graduations. You have to be prepared to leave home for extended periods of time which is a big adjustment compared to most jobs. All in all though, joining the MSC was the best career move I ever made and can be a great opportunity for anyone thinking about a career at sea. You literally will see the world. You will have plenty of opportunity for training and advancement and I highly recommend it if you are willing to make the sacrifices.