Boomers VS Millennials at sea

Regardless of the cash thrown at the problem, which will likely result in bloated bureaucracies doing study after study getting nothing done, the bigger question should be where is the next generation of mariners coming from. Why are situations like at Washington State Ferries becoming more commonplace across the industry? According to the Seattle Times, as of 2016 (when the article was written), the average age of a mariner in Washington State is 54! Sure, it may be younger elsewhere but not by much. I firmly believe that the capital problem that @john is rightly ringing the bell about will be moot in about 15 years when the next generation that should have been trained to take the place of boomers and late gen X-ers isn’t there. It will take generations to replace the institutional knowledge being lost at the hands of masters, mates, bosuns, engineers and on and on who aren’t imparting it on their replacements. That loss, I also believe, will hasten the end of the Jones Act as we know it today. Companies are not shy about trying to import the cheapest labor who are willing to live in conditions and with the pay considered substandard, or worse, by US standards. Agriculture and tech in California are great examples of this, and this will happen with the US maritime industry.

I am personally not a big fan of the boomer generation. Call me a typical Millennial, but the boomers appear to have the outward appearance of “I got mine, fuck you” of any generation. I think that attitude has permeated all facets of modern American and Western life. It didn’t have to be this way, but we are here and it almost feels like I literally have to wait for people to die to have advanced on the tugs beyond AB Tankerman. Same with the boomers and housing. Speaking rationally as a 28 year old male in California, where the hell is my incentive to care or want to care for an industry or society that doesn’t care about me? Not even as an individual but as the next generation that should continue the maritime industry or continue the country? John said above that he became so disheartened with US flagged ships that he sailed foreign. Hell, I have looked into that as well.

Concluding this, what needs to happen today is a concerted effort by masters, mates, engineers, and on to train their American next generation replacements or be prepared to stick a fork in the US maritime industry. We have no alternatives at this point.


While I fully understand and sympathize with your frustration, blaming “boomers” for the situation is a bit far fetched.

While the industry shrinks because of all the reasons we continue to hear about, the remaining jobs are of course going to be held by those with seniority and experience. Do you expect them to just call it quits and leave before retirement age or financial security offers them that choice? Are you looking for some Soylent Green solution to an overabundance of skilled workers?

With regard to training their replacements, the crew doesn’t choose manning levels or have the ability to place cadets or supernumeraries onboard. With the CG’s blessing, companies have gutted the manning levels to the point there are no entry level jobs anymore. Don’t blame the folks who are struggling to hold on to the jobs they have now. Just like you they need to feed their families.

That fork you are concerned about is being held by politicians, bankers, and financial manipulators, not your shipmates.


Well, I’m generation X so I agree with you, Boomers are a big problem! But I’m also highly cynical of millennials and generation x and everybody else. :rofl:


The trouble is you come across as “Fuck you, I want yours”.


My grandfather is 76 years old. He and my grandmother own a 1 acre plot with a large home in surburban Georgia. When they bought the home it was decidedly rural, and I remember when it was still rural when I was knee high to a grasshopper. In the past 15 years development has taken off precipitously, he lived in a pretty thick, wooded area that was easily 1000+ acres of nothing but trees. Someone bought the land behind him and about 100 yards from his back porch they started clearing out the trees to build an apartment complex. He was pissed. Plenty of people were pissed. The project stalled and at the entrance to the new road they decided on building commercial properties instead, burden was less I am guessing. He didn’t want, as he described, “poor people and criminals” living in the complex behind him. He quipped that they can go back to Atlanta if they want that lifestyle. I asked him how my siblings or I could ever afford to buy a home in his neighborhood, even on my then tugboat money, he wanted to retain his high property value. He told me he didn’t care whether or not I could ever afford to live in his neighborhood. He got his. I have lived in California for the past 10 years, I see it here too.

It becomes really disheartening to me, and other millennials, to hear stories of our parents and grandparents being able to work at McDonalds over the summer and pay their way through college. I literally saw my mother work as a waitress, as a single mother and with 3 kids, and be able to pay for a house in rural Georgia in the late 90s but I’d be cash strapped today if I tried to do the same. It is disheartening to hear the stories my father tells me of how much easier it was for him to get his master of tow than it was for me to attempt the same. The regulatory burdens weren’t there like they are there for me. I saw my father work on tugs in San Francisco Bay and be able to afford to buy three houses in Sacramento. I could never do that today on tugboat income. Unless there is major land use and zoning law reform I likely never will be able to. How is it today, in the richest state in the richest country, where I work at a job making $60000/year in order for me to be able to afford comfortably, even just modestly, to live near where I work I need my income to double at least. That or I could move so far inland that I could commute to my office daily for 1 hour+ each way. I literally pay $1600/mo rent for a 500sqft studio apartment. Not 25 years ago when my father got started on tugs he could afford a 2 bedroom apartment in San Francisco. How the hell am I supposed to take on more responsiblilty, like raising the next generation of Americans if I see half of my after tax income get eaten up by rent then another quarter in utilities and food?

baby boomers were raised in the most peaceful, prosperous, monolithic time in American history, were able to afford to go to college and buy homes on more modest incomes than I earn, weren’t saddled with the same debt that millennials. Vietnam not withstanding, boomers had it great. boomers are now the ones in power, and have been for decades now, they have made the zoning and land use laws that keep “poor people and minorities” out of their “American Dream” neighborhoods. Millennials are the first generation in American history that is set to have outcomes worse than their parents and grandparents.

I don’t agree with the riots happening, but I don’t exactly play ignorant to them either.

So yes boomer,


John, you are absolutely right to be cynical and you should remain cynical. I hope the rest of gen X wakes up on this issue before there is nothing left.

Gen X’er here. I started in the industry at 18 in the mid 90’s & almost always I was the only X’er on board. I’m greatly appreciative to the Boomers that I worked with. They never showed me a YouTube video, drew me a cartoon or babied me through any training. I just tried to do what they did, tried not to draw too much attention to myself & gave a lot of thought before asking any questions that I could figure out the answer to if I paid attention & gave it some thought. Since this covid crisis started I have been working with American Millennial mariners, something I haven’t done in 10+ years & I’m disappointed with what I see. I guess it is the same as it was with my dumb punk arse when I started? From my recent, limited experiences, if a Millenial is by themselves with a group of old timers they will try to fit in, try to learn & pay attention. But if the crew has 2 Millenials or a group of them then that vessel is in trouble because that bunch of dumb arses will think their Millenial way of thinking is correct, the only way & cause a ruckus. IMO, ideally, every crew should have at least 1 Millenial. Only bring on a second Millenial once that first one knows the job & can demonstrate to the next one that it can be done. The same for training cadets on ATB’s & tugs. 1 is perfect, 2 or more is too many because they will group together, resort to what they know & not learn much.


It’s gonna be weird these next few years when people have to transition to grousing about their new 3rds being Z’ers instead of millennials. The youngest millennials are 24 right now, the oldest are 39. I’ve never gotten on a ship and worried about seeing two people in their late 30s.


I don’t think you, like most people who trash talk them, even realize who millennials are. Most millennials are in their 30s and I suspect your observation is bullshit.


Programs here! Get your programs here! Can’t tell the players without a program.


Boomers (in general) lack of financial security has always baffled me. They lived through multiple raging and record shattering bull markets, relatively high wages when compared to expensive items like homes and education, and they are still seemingly ill prepared to hang it up. Where’d all the $$ go? I like boomers and all, but as a millennial that frustrates me to no end. Greatest Generation somehow figured out when enough was enough and called it quits, but the just another few more years/dollars to the 401k/nest egg is definitely a boomer trait.


The days you describe are done and gone and the older generation can use its current position to help shape the coming generations of mariners or stay asleep at the wheel. What industry can survive when the only people working are on average 50+ without a steady stream of replacement workers?

This is the situation of the US maritime industry today. I see a literal crisis in Jones Act trade in the next decade when the retirement cliff happens.

Bringing on millennials one at a time? That’s preposterous, the older millennials are in their late 30s. They’re the senior officers (along with Gen X guys) on many if not most ships! These people have been in the fleet as officers for 15 years. The engine room isn’t the Senate, it’s a hard place to be in your sixties and up. I don’t see too many boomers anymore, honestly.

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Whatever kinds of ships they had back in their day must’ve had plenty of time and need for turning work though, I’m worse on the lathe than the day I graduated due to lack of practice, and those old guys could all work it like pros.

Move. Most mariners have schedules that allow then to live anywhere they want. Not only does this offer cheaper housing options, but also you can pick an income-tax free state and reap the benefits. California sucks.


But what if there are 4 Millennials, and they are the top 4? Is the vessel still in trouble?

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This entire conversation sounds like age discrimination up and down the age scale. Some jobs require more experience which comes with staying alive but I’ve never cared what anyone’s age was as long as they could do the job. Never bothered me to be the oldest or the youngest on a crew though there were minor prejudices.
When downturns happen so does the age conversation, every time. Time would be better spent examining the causes and remedying the causes of downturns. Every time there’s a economic down turn or wages stagnate like they have over the last 30 years, people get mad at “other people” rather than looking up the ladder at those actually pulling the strings and manipulating the economic disorder.


Boomer here. Parent of two millennials. I didn’t do too bad. Both are veterans, both are employed, one has a child of his own, both planning to buy a first home.

So, you would like me to just die and get out of your way eh? Is that why y’all called Covid-19 “Boomer Remover?” Just wondering. Anyway, a lot of us are in the workplace, like me, paying taxes, keeping the lights on and the fridge stocked because we weren’t born with a silver spoon. Many of us still have kids living at home, some are raising grandkids, Life is tough.

I used to think like you. Why don’t those old people just go away? Well, don’t worry. In several months, or less, you can have this *** f * a * b * u * l * o * u * s *** job of mine. There will be a vacancy. I promise. Retirement here I come.


There is plenty left, it just happens to be stashed away in offshore bank accounts and foreign real estate holdings.

Feeling hard done by? Tell it to your right wing politicians, maybe they will give you some crumbs off their banquet table.


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