Jobs at MSC: Michael Hales

The following blog highlights how civil service mariner Michael Hales, currently a 2nd officer with Military Sealift Command, got his start with MSC. Hales joined the command as an able seaman, but through study and testing earned a promotion as a licensed deck officer.

HaleWhen Michael Hales came to MSC as an able seaman, he was hoping to do something he loves; working at sea with a talented, skilled team.  It’s a love he’s cultivated during a 20-year career in the Navy, and it’s work he missed after retiring in 2005.

And Hale is good at his job. For his service aboard USNS Grapple (T-ARS 53), Hales received the 2008 Marine Employee of the Year and 2008 Military Sealift Fleet Support Mariner Award of Excellence.

In his nomination letter, Grapple’s Chief Mate Frank Wareham described how immediately after coming aboard, Hales took on several new responsibilities in addition to his normal assigned duties, including becoming fire marshal.

“His work as fire marshal was outstanding,” Wareham said. As part of this work, Hales set up damage control lockers for Grapple, and set up spreadsheets to track inventory and maintenance schedules for damage control gear. He also ordered and maintained all lifesaving and aviation equipment. It’s a big job, one normally handled by a full-time dayworker.

“He’s not only making his part of the world better, but he’s making our people better, too,” Wareham said. “It’s simply remarkable the amount of productivity one person can have.”

Hales’ career at sea began when he realized, as a freshman at Northwest Missouri State University, that college wasn’t for him. “My mom was paying, and I didn’t want her doing that if I wasn’t 100 percent into it,” he said. “I was working at Bob’s IGA, and went with a buddy to talk to a Navy recruiter.”

The recruiter was a submarine cook – and he talked Hales into working aboard submarines.

During his Navy career, Hales worked as navigator, a job he loved, both for the technical aspects and for the opportunity to work with many members of the crew. “I love the camaraderie aboard a ship or submarine,” he said.

After retiring from the Navy, Hales returned home to Plattsburg, Mo., to his wife and kids. He worked for several months at a lumber yard as a driver and a salesman but with six kids to support, he needed more stable incomeand he wanted more from his career. He missed the camaraderie of life at sea and a sense of having a real mission at work.

He headed to the regional exam center in St. Louis to get his merchant mariner’s document, as an ordinary seaman, where he picked up a brochure for MSC. And the rest is history.

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