Pay cuts are here


Of course a lot of your suggestions are a factor with a lot of hiring, absolutely.
However ‘willing to pay extra’…it’s been a common theme is that industry wide wages have stagnated, if not regressed and not just in the OSV world.

I’m more referring to the smaller outfits, not towing oil, no steady contracts, etc…
There are a lot of small rag tag outfits with old boats being held together by splashzone that won’t let someone step foot on the boat without the ‘security awareness’ endorsement, for example. The days of being able to stand up and have a pulse being the main requirements for a job are gone now, even with the smaller companies. It’s almost to the point that you need to be a seasoned veteran to get an entry level position.


A few companies require a 1600 / 3000 ocean license with STCW and they prefer a lot of other things like Boiset and Med-PIC. Some of the ATB operators require unlimited licenses.

Most tug companies today require an MMC, but they can and do make exceptions. I would say that many require or prefer BT. A lot of small tug companies do not seem to be aware that STCW is more than just BT.

There are a quite a few one or two boat companies towing their own barges that don’t require anything, except wheelhouse licenses. No MMC, no
Twic, no medical card, no BT.

I find that a lot of companies say they want engineers with a DDE or QMED, but most of their engineers are just OS wipers.


Hence the common question, “do you have your STCW?”


As you say, it often depends on the charterer , mostly for towing oil. And some of them want unlimited licenses with a lot of extras. Some companies give potential new hires exams. Some companies provide a lot of training.

It’s funny, the two companies that provided me with “free” training in the past couple years, including a good tug and barge handling simulator course, were terribly run companies.

I did a relief job a while ago. The owner told me that he owned all his equipment outright and that he had no hull and machinery insurance on the tugs and barges. The equipment was old, out dated, and a little rough looking but sound. No cargo insurance either . He only transports aggregate and construction equipment that he owns. He had P&I and pollution insurance. He was fussy about about a few specific crew safety items. He was fussy about maintaining watertight integrity and making conservative weather decisions. He stressed that he did not want to lose a tug or barge because all of the loss would come right out of his pocket. He only wanted the minimum required credentials. Five man crew. It sounds half-ass, but it was actually a pretty well run company with a knowledgeable owner, and it paid well too.


Does that mean he wouldn’t hire people with bigger licenses or just that he didn’t care as long as they had the minimum.


He doesnt care if guys have more than the minimum required license. Otherwise he would not have hired me. He just wanted tug and barge handling ability. I got job based upon a recommendation from an occasional employer that he knows personally. He gave me the familiarization of the tug and barge himself. Clearly, it was the final interview.


I earned my Master of Towing.


I’ve been in US public higher ed for the last decade (unrelated to marine), and it’s a trend I’ve noticed. Not just with young vets, but also with kids just out of high school. Get them signed up for a bunch of loans, try to keep the dollars on the campus in overpriced “company stores” get them out as quickly as possible. They’ve cut degree plan hours out, and in STEM fields are trying to gut all of the humanities and non-utilitarian stuff out. Just get them loaded up with debt, get a credential in their hand and set them to producing something. I’ve left the business, but they’d been at me to start teaching dual credit courses to HS kids in order to try and get them to work even faster (and at lower wages).

There are people who will say that there aren’t enough STEM (or other) workers. That’s a lie, what they mean is that there aren’t enough people willing to work for crap wages. Wages for our grads have mostly stayed flat or declined with a few exceptions. If they want more people they need to pay more. What employers appear to want is a labor market flooded with hungry folks.


I’m sure that you did earn it, and then some, over many years.


Hot tip for any unemployed engineers. I heard through the grapevine Gulfmark is looking for a few assistant engineers. Heard they are pulling a couple of boats out of stack for some work. $500ish depending on license and experience.


The following information is self-reported AB pay, averaged from applications made to a certain U.S. company operating vessels of apx. 1600 tons.

2012 Mean $278 High $350 Low $250 % of applicants from Louisiana 50%
2013 Mean $293 High $350 Low $260 % of applicants from Louisiana 40%
2014 Mean $253 High $310 Low $200 % of applicants from Louisiana 40%
2015 Mean $288 High $355 Low $200 % of applicants from Louisiana 33%
2016 Mean $239 High $310 Low $200 % of applicants from Louisiana 69%

Bureau of Labor Statistics for “Sailor and Marine Oilers” (Inlcudes ABs, but not officers)
Annual wages. WA= Wasington LA=Lousiana
2012 WA $46,760 LA $40,560 Total national employment 31,500 persons
2013 WA $46,770 LA $41,710 " " " 28, 810 persons
2014 WA $48,790 LA $42,950 " " " 27,640 persons
2015 WA $48,730 LA $44,470 " " " 30,570 persons
2016 WA $49,000 LA $45,410 " " " 32,530 persons


Is anybody REALLY surprised the licensing and regulations are geared toward industry and not the Mariner?

This why I am trying to circumvent Congress by making changes within the system that Congress does not have to approve.


I’m still working same place, the “other” government outfit. Was going to split, but it got a bit better- or maybe I just came to realize that I have it better than many at my age; anyway, we are still taking applications for many positions. Could always use some good hands. I just answered a gentleman’s PM. Hope everyone’s doing well and having a nice summer.


I work for one of those small tug companies and we have many deckhands with nothing but a twic card and no desire to get anything else.


I’ve been looking into getting on a tug, but the way things are going I don’t know.


I have come to learn no where is completely safe and stable, and the most stable often times are the least paying.