From the U.S. Marines to the merchant marine

Profile – Becoming a Mariner

Jonathan Eitz
Crowley, Able seaman
Jonathan Eitz served in combat with the U.S. Marines, an experience that showed the true meaning of “esprit de corps.” After leaving the service, he sought a career with similar characteristics and structure. 

“I found it as a mariner,” he said recently. 

Eitz currently works for Crowley as a maintenance able seaman (AB) on the containership M/V Hudson Express, which transports military supplies. His job entails keeping the vessel, its equipment and assets “mission ready.” Eitz also provides operational support in conjunction with the military during activations and exercises. The tasks are similar on a commercial ship, but with an emphasis on cargo operations. 

“My duties vary from ship to ship, but there is one thing that stays constant: That is the dedication of the crew and how they interact with one another,” he said. “On board a ship, the crew develop personal and professional bonds with each other that are essential for meeting daily tasks and challenges. 

“What makes it special is that all mariners bring on board and contribute different professional skill sets and levels of life experiences,” Eitz continued. “I have been sailing for two decades and am at the point of in my career when I now teach and mentor new mariners. The professional development of the next generation of mariners is important to me to ensure a strong future fleet and merchant marine.”

Eitz spent much of his childhood in San Francisco and attended Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Mo., before joining the Marines. While serving, he learned how to function within a cohesive mission-driven team to accomplish common goals. Those skills transfer well to the maritime industry.

“Since I started my career as a mariner, I have sailed around the world over nine times,” he recalled. “It has given me the opportunity to see and explore many different cultures as an ambassador for America.”

— Casey Conley