Do maritime academies teach Competency theory

I think we need to better define “go work on the water” probably a better stat to look at would be how many Unlimited tonnage officer positions are held by academy grads. And in your number for our deep sea fleet, that doesn’t include MSC, which is the biggest single employer of US mariners.

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[quote=“LI_Domer, post:21, topic:48507”]
SO MSC employs how many people?

I would disagree. During the last downturn, all the offshore guys came running inland. I’m not saing inland didn’t feel it, but I didn’t lose my job and no one I knew that didn’t mess up, fail a drug test etc etc lost their job. Pay got cut but it wasn’t like OSVS going from 4 figures to 550/day. Once again, if the jobs are inland, why is the system set up for “unlimited masters” that don’t hold but a small minority of the jobs. Check out AWO numbers, 30,000 mariners, that’s a lot.

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Not a lot more than this number but yes. 60 slots in the MSP fleet and probably somewhere around 30 tankers at this point (possibly more, I lost count on the new builds years ago).

It’s tough for me to figure out whether I would go to sea coming straight out of school now a days like I did so many years ago. Every year seems to get a little more doom and gloom out there and I think just about every American deep sea sailor is aware that their job could evaporate overnight with the stroke of a pen in Washington.

I wonder how much practical information cadets can assimilate while fighting for space with a hundred or more of their classmates on short summer cruises. They don’t get a check ride to show they can make the right decisions in the face of unforeseen events.
There were comments earlier in this thread about CG multiple choice tests. FAA written tests are of an eerily familiar format. It’s as if they were written by a team of lawyers and retired game show hosts sitting in adjoining cubicles deep in the catacombs of Washington. (Insert correction by jdcavo here).
The difference is the applicant pilot only gets his license after going up with an examiner who keeps shutting down engines and vital instruments while his victim is prevented from seeing outside the cockpit and kept busier than a one armed man at a wallpapering contest.
Should maritime license applicants have to pass a practical exam given by a CG examiner using an actual vessel for small licenses and a simulator for 1600 ton and above?


When I sat unlimited masters the exams had to be answered in essay form. Practical compass adjusting was demonstrated to the examiner by use of a Deviascope, a boat shaped table that could be rotated and tilted. A magnetic compass and pelorus was mounted on top.
Errors were introduced by the examiner by placing hidden magnets underneath. The already nervous student had to swing the apparatus placing small magnets in the correct position within a time frame under the steely gaze of the examiner.
KThen a oral exam of some 2 hours if you were lucky that the examinerk had access to your previous exams for second mate and Chief mate that you had sat some years before and could reexamine you on anything that you showed a weakness in.
The radar simulator was primitive compared to today’s simulators but then so were the radars on the ships that had them. The student had to demonstrate correct radar plotting and collision avoidance.
The examiners were government employees and were extra masters with no connection to the school.

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I believe the Coast Guard feels that passing the academy is enough evidence that the candidate has been vetted but something like you described in the aviation sector would be quite interesting to see. It sounds a lot like the emergency shiphandling classes offered at the schools. Not typically a class taken by new officers and more geared toward senior officers really.

Some companies and unions are now doing simulator assessments (after the license has been issued) to determine the baseline competency of a new watch officer. I’ve heard some dreadful stories from assessors I’ve met over the years.

Personally, I will put a final sailing term cadet on the conn in traffic to give them the dress rehersal and coaching that can only happen when you are the one making the decisions. I give them plenty of warning and tons of time to prep and most have told me they found it beneficial. I just want crackerjack third mates coming up my gangway.


181 US flag ships (self propelled, > 1000 GT, oceangoing)
99 Jones Act Eligible
82 Non Jones Act Eligible

You can download the spread sheet at MARAD

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Thanks. I knew deep down that MARAD kept the numbers.

If the FAA worked like the USCG, you could get a license by passing a written and having a lot of frequent flyer miles.
I know nothing about the ratings at the big ship end of the spectrum,but from what I can surmise, the barrier to idiots is that they can’t get the sea time at the higher tonnages because no one will hire them anymore. Kind of an extended peer review process?

So hawsepipers vs Academy? It went pretty silent when it went to numbers, right now 5,500 tugboats operate in the US and best I see is 181 US flagged ships. Lets take the low end for towing and say everyboat has 3 people per vessel (last tug I was on had 9 people at 3200 HP) and they work day for day (most of the industry is 2 for 1) That’s 5500x3x2, That’s 32,000 people employed LOW END. What are the numbers for bluewater and unlimited masters? I don’t know but something tells if you calculate that “aggressively” you guys ain’t but a drop in a bucket. I just want honest numbers here and I don’t have them, but I am fairly confident my 70% is about accurate.

So here we go. Now OUT OF those 5,500 vessels how many tow astern? I’ll go out another fucking limb here, less than 10%. Go onto lapware and ask for “towing questions” guess what the fuck comes up? you guessed it, all towing astern …where do we begin? How about we begin admitting the truth, that nobody with an unlimited masters even uses it and all testing is catered to the academies and white suits

For better or worse the academies are geared toward blue water training in heir mission statements (GLMA excepted). I went to one and found my way to sailing as a Captain in international trade. I may be a minority in the grand scheme but I wouldn’t trade it for the world for what it has done for my life and I’d imagine some of the 30,000 inland mariners you cited could say the same. So what’s the big deal?


I’m not taking anything away from bluewater, just that is what the testing is geared towards people in white suits and this whole thread is basically "Do we have a good testing system in place!? My answer is NO, and I’m not trying to take away from bluewater but the numbers aren’t lying. We need changes. And I have a feeling when the hardworking and under represented towing industry gets involved, this part of the industry will have less of a voice because their are no jobs.

Who are the “white suits”? I went to an academy and hold an unlimited master and I don’t think I ever owned a single pair of white undies let alone an entire white suit.

P.S. There are over 50,000 bluewater dommercial ships sailing today.


Fair enough. I could elaborate but I think I’ll get off topic …once again, no animosity towards a maritime graduate, just a Kings points graduate shouldn’t look down on a Master of Towing hawespiper.

US Flagged?


Why would I sail US Flagged? There are no jobs/ships there.

What do you do when come out with a 3rd Mates then?

I don’t know what “you” do today but twenty years ago I sailed for a year on US flagged ships then doubled my salary by going foreign.

My wife sailed US for much longer, made significantly less money and her ship ended up getting shot at. She would have been better off going Navy then she could have shot back and now would have a dd214 and 5 years extra towards a pension.

I’m not trying to be a wise ass. I’m just saying that, for better or worse, when the 32,000 hardworking and under-represented inland mariners get involved it’s not likely to change the uscg’s view because the centers of power are the pentagon (the US Navy is bluewater organization) and the IMO (a bluewater organization).

By the numbers:
Inland mariners: 32,000 sailors
US Navy active duty: 327,804 sailors
Actively employed seafarers represented by IMO flag states: 1,647,500 sailors


Liberty Sun? If so that was significantly less than just about anywhere. She made a wise choice coming ashore if so

I’m a mariner, I’m trying to get on ATBS and I’m confident I will get there.

Youre awesome for responding on your site and I respect that. And I agree, its not likely to but I will continue to represent my guys and the towing industry 100%…don’t let that take away from Navy, or etc etc…I just think these guys/gals need a voice…and if anything I am very happy and welcome to have your opinon but I still didn’t get numbers on tug/hawsepipers vs academy…I think the number will show the towing industry is under represented and they need representation, especially on testing.

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