Honest opinion, how bad do you think this is going to get?

So I’ve been in contact with a lot of different people over the past two weeks, employers, old roomates/acquaintances, people of the forums, etc. Basically everything I’ve heard is painting a pretty clear picture: shipping is down, vessel’s are being locked in port, reliefs are being pushed back or cancelled and a lot of people are out of work.

The upside to this is the school closures will push back the current graduating class of new mariners from the academies around the country. But that’s effectively the only upside. Practically every person I’m in contact with in the maritime field has been saying the same thing: they’re either sitting around at home waiting for this to blow over, or they’re stuck in port somewhere doing the same thing.

But now we’re looking at 6.6 million unemployed and a general slowdown in global shipping, for the foreseeable future. I’ve also heard the union halls are slammed right now, not a lot of work to go around.

I’m asking this mainly to the older hands on the forums, since I’m pretty new, how bad do you guys think this is really going to get for us mariners?


I can only imagine some of the gloomy forecasts this thread will produce. Everyone can speculate how they see fit…but the fact is, no one has a crystal ball. No sense is fear mongering or trolling, it doesn’t help.


Come on man, what’s wrong with a little fear mongering or trolling every now & then? You ain’t fun at all.

Concerning the future. If someone would have told us six months ago that .99 cent masks would be selling for $50-$75 on Ebay, the people of the US would make a run on toilet paper causing a national shortage, all college & professional sporting events would be canceled & dead people would be stacked up in refrigerator trucks in NYC not a single person would have believed that. Since not a single person predicted where we are at today I wouldn’t trust anyones predictions about where we will be 6 months from now. Its smart to ask old timers for their opinions & read as much as you can, but once you get as much info as your brain can process your guess will be as good as anyone else’s.

My advice, plan for the worst & you’ll seldom be disappointed.


I take it few of you were Bot Scouts, (actually I was a Sea Scout but same thing) BE PREPARED, as seafarers we should all know this, a years unemployment because the Halls are ugly, check, injury and can’t work, check whatever.
This is why we have gumby suits, CO2 bottles, lifeboats, SCBAs

so how bad will this crisis get, I don’t know, but odds on a worse one is waiting out there, so be prepared.

1 Like

It will get worse before it gets better.
From an old timer.

1 Like
  • If you have a job, keep your job.

  • If you hate your job and want to quit, don’t.

  • If you’re offered a better job, a lot of people were also offered that same job.

  • If you ship with a union and are an applicant or an entry book, you won’t get a job.

  • Accept any job, even a job you are overqualified for.


Maritime employment more than most follows the world economy. Our jobs depend on trade between nations on the sea whether the freight is oil, grain or containerized cargo. With this pandemic many economists and bankers expect trade to go down as low as 30%, expect total jobs to go down the same. DeckApe has good advice. During a previous recession I was lucky to have a job and all us assistant engineers held chief licenses. First and second license holders were the oilers. We were all glad to have a job as shoreside we would have made less even if we could have found a job. I think this recession will last a while, I’m glad I can let some of the younger folks experience this one. It builds character though !


Agree with the rest, keep what you have, stay positive though, if we have hit or are near the bottom, than things will only get better.
If you are out of a job and have some money to spare, take some online classes to broaden your horizons and learn something new. Vessels are not being scrapped, just laid up, the jobs will come back, but competition will be fierce, think what can separate yourself as a mariner of the future, what skills in the near future would also be advantageous to the New or Next Gen Mariner, maybe increase your IT acumen.


During the First Gulf War I was working on a ready reserve ship as 3M. We were in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. The docks were lined with American ship. I walked down the dock by another ready reserve ship, Cape Flattery. I heard my name called down from the gangway. It was a guy I had graduated with from CMA.
“Where have you been working these last three years?” I asked.
“This is my first job at sea since graduation,” he said. “You know how it is. There are no good jobs out there. What have you been doing?”
“Sailing,” I said, “I’m taking a break from my captain’s job to do this.”

There are jobs at sea out there. It all depends how hard you want to work.


Get fitted for your operator chair, imagine 12 hours a day in a CONEX ashore “piloting” your vessel remotely for a year, maybe 2, before you are let go, once the system reaches optimal functionality and you are no longer needed. Boom, just like that you are no longer a Mariner just a bum. Take up seasonal farm work I guess? Head to California to pick fruit in the Central Valley ala Steinbeck :man_shrugging:t2:

1 Like

We are a long ways from autonomous vessels… Agree with some of the posters, keep your job, if you have one, be ready to sail below your qualifications for a bit if you have to. Do try to pad your resume if you can in your field. Union halls are not obsolete, all is a bit slow right now, Union or not…This is a big challenge right now, but my experience over many different"Cycles" in sailing over many years… hang in there, not overnight, but we will be fine. Good luck sir.


It would be a great time to take STCW courses if the schools were open or went online.

If you are home, looking for purpose and want to be a part of something. You should look into TEAM RUBICON

Go Volunteer, with Mariner background and training, most everyone can bring a lot to the organisation and you can go help others that may need it more than you. Go get your Grey Shirt. You do not need to be only Veterans.

It’s been bad for a little while, the covid shit just finished it off. Things should come around in a bit but no ones hiring, nothing till they know how this plays out.

1 Like

Still a few years away from fully autonomous operation. (First ships on short coastal routes, or on offshore supply trips) Maybe by end of this decade?

Even then there will be need for people with maritime background to be able to take over (remotely) from shore based control centre.
Also for people to attend on board while in port (on short notice for trouble shooting and repairs)

Those who ensure they have the skills required will have jobs. Those who think that they don’t need to upgrade themselves will not.


Half my crew wont show up for crew change. One Crew’s wife has the Rona, so we dont want him onboard.

As to your questions, its mortality rate is just double the flu. Depends on how you look at it, i guess.

Many ups and downs in the industry over the years, wars, oil prices, recessions, etc. The whole world is reeling from this friggin virus thing, Never thought in a million years something like that would affect the economy and lifestyle as it has. The world as we know it are united in fighting this thing. About the only thing all of the planet EVER agreed on. We will get through this at some point (Soon I hope) and perhaps things will be a little different how we do business, but should come out strangely enough better at how we do things. JMHO


Might be time to stow the PPE, change the wardrobe and Hoist the Jolly Rogger.

My neighbors love my skull and crossbones pajama bottoms, or so they say at a distance.

1 Like

Except for the cretin in the White House. He is fighting the world and his own country by using the plague as a vehicle for his ego and personal desires.

The only things Trump feels are worth fighting for are the elements of his own vanity.