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For the Ship Crew

Cruise Preparation

Our ships and crews spend a great deal of time at sea, but make frequent port calls. The average leg lasts two to four weeks; the average time in port is two to four days. Within the constraint of necessary work, every effort will be made to allow the crew members to go ashore and relax.

No specific dress is required aboard ship. Bring clothing suitable for the climate in which you will be sailing, and appropriate for the work you will be doing, including foul weather gear. Laundry facilities are provided on each vessel.

As there is no ship's store, you should bring enough toilet articles and other necessities to last until your next port call. Some toiletries are NOT available in some overseas ports and could be very expensive, plan accordingly.

Work aboard ship is considered hazardous, requiring the use of safety equipment such as protective footwear and glasses.

In case of emergency, the Port Office should be contacted at (508-289-2208). On weekends the switchboard (508-548-1400) will notify the Port Office Representative. Satellite telephone communication is usually available but expensive; you are encouraged to bring a prepaid phone card with you. Mail is frequently carried from the Port Office by the scientific staff or crew members joining the vessel. If you wish to have mail delivered to the ship, the correct address is:

R/V "ship's name"
c/o Port Office MS#27,
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Woods Hole, MA 02543-1054

Policies & Planning

Once you report aboard the ship, you are encouraged to become familiar with the policies contained in the Institution's Personnel Practices and Procedures Manual (3P's) and ISM Manual. Copies are located in the library and Master's cabin of each ship, as well as in the Port Office.

The Institution is a Zero Tolerance employer and is subject to the Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988. As a condition of employment or continued affiliation with the Institution, every employee must abide by the terms of this policy. The possession or use of any controlled substance will not be tolerated. No alcoholic beverages of any type will be permitted on Institution vessels.

Crewmembers are required to comply with U.S. Laws and regulations relating to items from foreign countries and customs duties. The Master will advise crews of any limits on the amount of materials that may be placed into bonded stores.

The close environment aboard ship requires that you have special consideration of your shipmates, including the scientific staff. The privacy of your shipmates must be given serious consideration at ALL times. Actions that adversely affect the harmony of the vessel such as harassment of any kind, including sexual, will not be tolerated.

Traveling to Foreign Ports

When traveling to a foreign port, all crewmembers should have with them the following documents:

  1. Merchant Mariner’s Document (Z-Card)
  2. Original Merchant License (if applicable)
  3. STCW-95 Certificate
  4. Valid Passport and if required, Visa
  5. Immunization Card with current shots as required
  6. Name and telephone number of ship’s local agent
  7. Date and time of ship’s arrival and departure
  8. Customs certificate of personal foreign articles, if any

It is your responsibility to ensure that none of the above listed items will expire while you are at sea.

If you are carrying equipment, be sure to have the required documents stating what the articles are and their intended use and meet the proper export regulations.


Training requirements are established by:

  • International (IMO) and Federal (USCG) regulations
  • WHOI Policy
  • Ship Masters and Chief Engineers

It is the responsibility of every documented or licensed crewmember to maintain his/her training status current to meet all international and federal regulation requirements. WHOI will not employ anyone who does not meet these requirements. It is the responsibility of casual employees to obtain the necessary training to fill the positions they are seeking.

It is the responsibility of the Marine Personnel Coordinator to coordinate the training of crewmembers to ensure that they are adequately trained for the positions for which they are hired. Only approved training courses arranged by the Marine Personnel Coordinator to meet regulatory requirements, WHOI policies or ship-specific requirements will be paid for by the Institution, either by direct payment or reimbursement, contingent on funding.