Adjusted for the real cost of inflation wages are lower than they were three decades ago. It’s also become time consuming and expensive to obtain and maintain all these credentials that may companies now want.
There will always be more than enough unlicensed guys for tugs. Obviously, it’s still way to easy for the academy kids and the licensed OSV mariners to switch to tugs.
Nothing is USCG required for tugs under 100 GRT. Nowadays that’s tugs up to 120’ and 6000 hp. No MMC required for the unlicensed guys. No STCW required for the licensed guys on a tug under 200 GRT.
The tug companies will do their own safety training in-house, mostly by having the guys watch videos off watch. There will be some reading, workbooks, and open book exams so the company can build a file to prove they gave safety training. The companies moving oil will be required to have fully credentialed guys, but not most other tugs.
When the oil patch has its next boom they will have a big shortage for awhile. They will raise wages enough to greenmail guys away from fishing boats, tugs, and deep sea. The USCG will allow the bayou mafia to create a lot of instant new mariners limited to OSVs and the Gulf. The maritime academies will increase enrollment. When the next oil patch boom ends, we’ll be right back where we are now all over again.