Maritime Mentors and Icon’s ~ Mr. Norman McCall
10-1-2018 Boatjobsonly.com ~ At Boatsjobsonly.com one goal is to help the mariner and companies advance and succeed. Our mission is to be the preeminent provider of cost and time effective maritime career and staffing solutions. We want you to be the best you can be. Company or Mariner.
With that in mind one of the most important things for any person in any career is to seek out a mentor. Here we feel every great achiever is inspired by great mentors. Boats Jobs Only is seeking out the boat industry best mentors and we have had the privilege and an honor to speak with Mr. Norman McCall of McCall crew boat rentals and now Seacor. We hope to perhaps pass on some of his well and hard earned wisdom. This will be the first in a series of Maritime Mentors and Icons.
For anyone who does not know Mr McCall he’s a master Mariner and an ol Salt. You just have to cast your eyes upon any of his boats to respect the man. You know he runs a tight ship, always squared away and well supplied. Norman McCall has the ability to keep top notch crews long term, they become his family. Norman makes sure his boats are always of the highest caliber. You can tell the man loves and knows his boats well. It’s a fact any mariner can see plainly, like a ray of sunshine breaking thru the storm clouds, before ever even talking to Mr McCall is that he loves his boats, his crews and has the first hand knowledge of the strength and skills required to not only survive, but to thrive at sea and in the industry.
If you want to be a success on boats….Love what you’re doing and show it. ( This can be seen from boat ownership down to swabbing the galley deck. “Everyone will make the center of the deck shine, be the person who also makes every corner of the deck dirt free and shine too” Mate Terry Cook)
Norman’s background first, part in what shaped his future and respect for the water no doubt. In the late 1800’s early 1900’s McCall’s grandfather owned a two masted Schooner the E.O. Gladys named after two daughters Emma, Olive and his wife Gladys. She ran general cargo and produce between the Grand Chenier area in Louisiana to Galveston Texas. Norman McCall grew up on the bank of the Mermentau river in Grand Chenier, Louisiana. As a kid Norman’s dad moved supplies for the community aboard a 55 ft Cypress hull boat named the Margie. Once a week the McCall’s would make runs to either Lake Arthur or Lake Charles hauling whatever was in season or needed moving. Everything from cotton, oranges, duck meat, seafood, farm supplies just about anything that was produced or harvested in the area they would deliver to market. His dad would also bring back supplies of every sort for the local townspeople and carry passengers both ways. It was a good life, there were no roads so it was a necessity. It was hard work but Norman seemed to like it. Between moving cargo, going to school and duck hunting and fishing providing meat for diners and grocery stores Norman kept busy. It even paid enough for Norman to start college at Louisiana Tech University. Until America was attacked by Japan.
Photo Credit : Stephanie Richard ~ Seacor
Norman joined the US Navy right after the attack on Pearl Harbor. After boot camp became a Electrician’s Mate ending up a 1st class Petty officer. Norman volunteered for the dangerous silent service under the seas and manned the GE electrical throttles of one of the deadliest submarines the sailors of the Japanese Maru’s and Imperial warships would encounter. Once Norman reported aboard he soon earned his submariner Dolphins. For a submariner to get his dolphins he must not only know his job, but must know how to do every job and operate every system and weapon on the submarine by memory.
If you want to be a success on a boat learn everything you can about the boat you are on…everything! ( There will come the day when you need to stand in for your crewmate maybe even the skipper, be prepared to step in if needed )
The USS Jack was Normans submarine. She was launched 16 October 1942 and went straight to war. The USS Jack patrolled the east China Sea off Japan, the Indian ocean, Celebis and Philippine Sea and operated out of Pearl Harbor then Fremantle and Brisbane Australia in a pack of a dozen subs. They had one goal, to sink enemy shipping and that they did with gusto.
On her first patrol off Honshu Japan the USS Jack came upon a five-ship convoy 26 June, and in a series of five well-executed attacks, sank the 4,000-ton passenger/cargo ship Toyo Maru and the 6,000-ton cargo ship Shozan Maru. In attempting to torpedo a third ship, the submarine was attacked and shaken hard by a depth charge dropped by Japanese aircraft. They had damage but the crew made repairs. One repair was heroic and involved the chief engineer Earl Archer climbing into a pipe, the sub diving to find a leak in that pipe and quickly surfacing before the engineer drowned, they found the damage and they fixed it. A couple weeks later they saw smoke on the horizon and intercepted and sank the cargo ship Nikkyo Maru.
(Control Panels from the USS Jack. Artwork by ships cook) photo credit : Lieutenant commander Bob Craig USS Jack
The USS Jack’s” next patrol was a dud, no targets and mechanical problem plagued the boat causing them to return to Pearl Harbor for repairs. No one was happy about it but not all was bad with Christmas in Hawaii and not underway.
Photo credit:LCDR Craig USS Jack
If you want to be a success on a boat you have to roll with the punches, you will have your bad days at sea and you deal with it. (At sea you are all you have, expect no one to help you, be ready, getting everyone home alive may depend on it)
Early 1944 on her third patrol USS Jack meet a convoy of 5 large five thousand plus ton oil tankers and took four of them out in three attacks earning the nickname “Jack The Pack” after the Japanese captain sent a message he was under attack from a large wolf pack. And it was just the Jack.
The USS Jack did five more war patrols racking up a total of 30 enemy ships killed. They also captured 3 Japanese sailors from a radio ship trawler, but only two lived. One wanted to keep fighting and ended up getting himself killed. The other two were returned to Australia for interrogation on Japanese defenses. Towards the end of the war most Japanese ships left floating were afraid to leave port and the Jack stood off Japan as part of a ring of submarines used to pick up downed pilots, each covering 60 nautical miles. They rescued one aviator named Tim Taylor. They were off the coast of Japan when the atomic bombs were dropped and when the Japanese surrendered 15th of August 1945. Normans Executive officer Thomas Michael Dykers became an Admiral in the Navy and surfaced the first submarine under the North Pole after several others failed to break the ice. Normans submarine Captain James Calvert moved to Hollywood and became a technical expert for submarine movies and the host of a popular television series called ” The Silent Service”.
If you want to be a success on a boat never give up, give it all you have until the job is done. (Hold fast sailor)
After helping to win the war Norman returned home and took a job running an old ex Navy mine sweeper for the Pure Oil Company named the Leo Huff II. The job was doing seismic and drilling work in the Gulf of Mexico. It was a new way of finding oil , an industry that was just starting. Norman found a couple of great industry and life mentors at Pure Oil and listened to the needs of the companies starting offshore. Norman saw growth and lots of work ahead, but Pure Oil sold out to Union Oil and disbanded it’s marine division. Norman made contacts in the industry and had saved enough to buy himself a small crew boat and a utility boat. For good luck and to honor his Navy shipmates he put his old Submarine logo on the boats and started his company McCall Crew boat Rentals. The boats leased for 150.00 dollars a day.
Photo credit Pure Oil & Scan by McCall Seaman Trevor Kitch
If you want to be a success on a boat listen to what your customer needs, become a partner with the same goal, and fill that need . (Captains get involved more than running the boat. Get to know the company man, perhaps the driller to understand the job they are doing. Offer more if you can, be of value so your boat is just not another boat, but the prefered boat. )
By 1969 Norman McCall starting building new boats for his company. His first new boat was the Phyllis McCall. McCall became the go-to man in the Gulf of Mexico if you needed a fast crew supply boat. McCall has always looked for ways to improve his boats. From hulls to engines to electronics he stayed on the cutting edge seeking to provide the finest boats he could to meet or exceed his customers needs. ” After you operated and repaired your own boats for decades you know the importance of having the right equipment” McCall says . Mr. McCall had many yards build his boats but admits Gulf Crafts are his favorite. When asked why he never ventured into the OSV big boat market McCall said he did not like rust. “To much involved in keeping the boats like new, I stuck to Aluminum. Speed and durability were important, and I liked that. This allowed us to focus more on meeting the customers needs rather than focus on and the cost of maintaining our hulls.” McCall built his fleet to a peak of forty one boats.
Photo Credit : Joe McCall~Doreen McCall dressed in McCall colors.
If you want to be a success on a boat invest in the best equipment to do the job. (This can be down to your foul weather gear. Invest in yourself, to do the best job, it helps to have good tools. Don’t show up unprepared.)
1995 Mobil oil needed some fast crew boats in Africa and ask Seacor to seek out McCalls help. Together they set up operations in Africa and started working together on projects. A year later the companies merged. Since then SEACOR Marine has become a leading provider of global marine and support transportation services to offshore oil and gas exploration, development and production facilities worldwide.
If you want to be a success on boats..Do not be afraid of change, embrace it. (Always leverage your career, no one is going to do that for you. If you want the best, go get it)
Photo credit: Seacor (The Seacor Puma, a high speed catamaran, is an excellent example of the latest technology of high speed vessels in the oil and gas industry.)
Mr. McCall is now 94 years old, and still works hard everyday at Seacor making sure his customers, crews, and boats are happy. Normans advice to anyone working on a boat. “ If you want to provide a good living for your family you study and as soon as you have the required sea time you advance to be an engineer or Captain“. ” I always tell anyone to do the best you can do and strive to become the boss.“”That should be your focus”.
Mr McCall is a strong supporter of the Jones act , feels it’s needed to protect American mariners and American boat companies. “We have flagged a few boats overseas, and we know they will never return to work in US waters.”
If you want to be successful in the USA on boats support the Jones Act ( The Jones Act protects American Mariners and American boat companies)
Norman feels the slump is over in the offshore oil fields, but it’s going to take a couple years to get back up to full steam. “With lots of cumbersome regulations being lifted by the president that should help the industry recover faster”.
When asked what Norman was most proud of professionally he told me it was his boats.” The new ideals and new types of vessels developed focused on speed, safety and performance. ”
Always be on the lookout for new ideals that add value to your customers wants and desires. If you can give enough customers what they want, you can get anything you want. (Anything)
Thank you Norman McCall, we salute you and your accomplishments. You sir have set the bar high and have inspired many a mariner to do good.