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A Day in the Life of a Harbor Operations Specialist

May 23, 2022

By Souleymane Ba

Good (early) morning

4:30 a.m.

I wake up every day at 4:30 am and go to the LA Fitness gym to work out for 30 to 45 minutes before heading back home for breakfast. I love working out. It sets a great tone for the day — I feel amazing and come to work with lots of energy.

6:20 a.m.

I leave my house around 6:20 am for about a 30 minute drive to my work as a Harbor Operations Specialist at Fishermen’s Terminal. The primary duties of my job include:

  • Helping marina customers and tenants at Fisherman’s Terminal, the Maritime Industrial Center, and Salmon Bay Marina 
  • Cleaning, inspecting, and maintaining the grounds, facilities, and parking lots at Fishermen’s Terminal 
  • Helping office staff by answering customer questions
  • Checking the safety of docks and maritime vessels 
  • Throwing and catching dock lines and communicating over cell phone or radio to help boats come into the slip
  • Responding to emergencies
  • Operating a small boat called a skiff and other equipment like a forklift when needed 

Souleymane Ba wearing a mask at Fishermen's Terminal

Working at an operational terminal 

Since I’m in operations, my daily work changes but I still have certain things I do every day. Here’s how today looks for me: 

7:00 a.m.

The very first thing I do when I come to work is to check in with our Security Guard who worked overnight. He briefs me if anything has happed at night that we need to know operationally. Sometimes we get boat alarms at night where we need to get in touch with the customer to come and check on their vessel. Sometimes he notices things that need to be repaired. I coordinate with our facilities coordinator to get it fixed. Today he said it’s been a quiet night and nothing major happened, so that is good news!

After checking in with the security guard I open my laptop and check to see if I have new emails and check SharePoint logs. The Fishermen’s Terminal team uses this to log important actions or things that happened at the terminal. 

7:20 a.m.

Around 7:20 a.m. I go out and check the plaza to make sure the area is clean. I drive around on a patrol truck to make sure the entire Terminal area is clean, and that none of the boats are sounding an alarm. After than I check the dumpsters to make sure the area is tidy. 

Another important job at Fishermen’s Terminal is inspecting the docks to make sure there is no boat in distress or taking on water.  We do our best to make sure all the boats are properly secured and are not taking on water or leaking oil. 

9:30 a.m.

Around 9:30 am I start to receive service calls on the radio from our customer service representative. That could include opening a gate for a customer, delivering a dumpster to a fishing or cruise boat, or even responding to emergencies.

11:00 a.m.

At 11:00 I start boat checks, which means I walk around the docks to and check which boats are in the slip and which are gone. This is how they get charged for moorage.

One of the things I like about my job is being around the water. There is just a refreshing air around the docks that I enjoy a lot. On a beautiful sunny day, it’s the best thing ever! 

Sunny day on the docks at Fishermen's Terminal

Once in a while, we have to respond to urgent events like an oil spill from a boat. For this, I submit a report to the Coast Guard, the Department of Ecology, and notify the Port of Seattle environmental team about the spill. 

Usually around noon, people start to come to the terminal so I walk around to keep an eye out for safety hazards.

2:00 p.m.

I join a team huddle and provide an update on the day’s operations and communicate any relevant information to the afternoon shift. 

After the huddle I usually go patrol three facilities (Fishermen’s Terminal, Salmon Bay Marina, and the Maritime Industrial Center) and check for cleanliness, the safety of our tenants, and make sure that the operation is running smoothly. 

I usually get off at 3:30pm and head back home and do the same thing the next day, although there can always be surprises.

This is a typical day in a life of a Harbor Operations Specialist. 

Update: I have recently been promoted to a new job as a Facilities Manager!

My role as a Harbor Specialist helped me familiarize myself with the maritime industry and it helped me see what it takes to run a marina and all the maintenance that comes with it. It also helped me get to know and understand all the details about the docks and the facilities. I have also developed relationships with people in other departments at the Port of Seattle and that familiarity will make my next role easier!

How to work in the maritime industry

If the Harbor Operations Specialist job sounds interesting to you, here is my advice on how to get a job in this field:

  1. Make sure you like helping people and getting things done
  2. Be friendly
  3. Networking will help you get there. Find people in the maritime industry and learn from them.  
  4. Attend maritime career fairs and get to know the different companies and roles. The maritime industry is very big and there are so many different opportunities
  5. Learn by visiting a marina that you like and talking to the people who work there
If this job sounds interesting, submit an application by June 5

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