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Andy Jaworski, Chief Steward, The Interlake Steamship Company

Tell us about your military experience?

As a first-generation serviceman, I joined the Navy in 1983, following the lead of my three brothers – dubbed the Jaworski Naval Unit by our mother who had to pin a map to keep track of her floating brood. My youngest brother made his career in the Navy. In total, we have 50 years of honorable service between us.

After boot camp and MS “A” School, I was stationed aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) assigned mostly to the bakery, serving as watch-captain overseeing the preparation of desserts, breads, donuts and cake decorating for a crew of 5,500.

My second ship was a small amphibious vessel, the USS Anchorage (LSD-36) with about 500 aboard where I maintained the galley food storerooms and as a utility man in the galley division, which was affectionately referred to as the “‘jack in the dust”. I made my MS2/E-5 before I left the service in 1990.

For me, the Navy was one of the best things I ever did in my life. I enjoyed the heck out of that. It was a great growing experience, coming from a small town to seeing the world. My time in the service will always be treasured.

How did you learn about careers in the maritime industry? 

Rather than return to my hometown after my time in the Navy, I decided to take my confection talents to the Great Lakes and joined the Interlake family fleet in 1991. My brother Jeff, had already been working for Interlake and he told me “if you can make chocolate chip cookies and cheesecake, you’ll fit right in.” That was 26 seasons ago. Today, I am the chief steward of the Kaye E. Barker

What elements of your service career have helped you in transitioning to a private sector U.S.-flag maritime position? 

It was the easiest thing I ever did, going from the Navy to maritime sailing. All the training I experience in the Navy relates almost perfectly to the drills we do on the Lakes regarding food service, firefighting and first aid.

How has your military training helped in your role?

My military training paired with the training I have received during my maritime career has allowed me to help my shipmates when they have needed it the most. I was told by medical professionals that the first aid I provided to a critically injured shipmate who was involved in an accident in the engine room “saved his life”. That shook me up because I was just helping my shipmate. He made a full recovery and he’s still with us to this day. It still amazes me how all shipmates come running when someone gets hurt.

What advice would you have for a separating service member interested in this field upon leaving the military?

U.S. Maritime employment opportunities are a fantastic way to continue and enhance similar occupations learned in the military with a wide variety of training, travel and benefits. You can pursue great careers on a riverboat, tugboat, the largest seagoing container ships or a Great Lakes freighter.