How Frequent Are Layoffs in the Maritime Industry

Continuing the discussion from Working at Ingram or Kirby:

Depending on the company you work for such as Kirby, Crowley, Ingram,et al as well as the economic outlook in the U.S. maritime industry how common our layoff if you are non-union?

Probably a wide range of answers for this question.

I have the official oil field “I survived the downturn” t-shirt. I consider this more luck than skill, but I did play to win. Since your question specifically asked about non-union, I will give you my non-union thoughts. You need to be able to read the writing on the wall and keep your situational awareness in peek form. You can be “laid off” for many reasons. Sometimes it is read “fired”. If it’s busy now and you feel omnipotent, then you will probably get your ass handed to you at the first tick downwards in the industry. When the downturn comes (it will come), then you need to assess your appetite for being part of the solution that keeps the company afloat. Some people lay themselves off when they decide that the loss of perks and reduced pay with additional stress is no longer worth it.

In short, everything is negotiable. You are your only advocate. Build a strong network for when the downturn comes (it will come). Save your money and live within your means, this will empower you to make the right call when they ask you to do something stupid (they will ask).

I watched people with 20 years with the company ride off in the ubiquitous white van; never to be seen again. I had 4 years with the company, but somehow I survived. Your milage may vary is an understatement!

All of the above is generic, you will still have to evaluate the individual sectors of the maritime world. Tugs, oil field, etc. Each has a different rhythm, but they all share the effects if one sector is substantially affected by a downturn.


There is NO job security in the maritime industry unless you work with a strong union and even then if you have less than 20 years…good luck. There is no more job security in the maritime industry than any other industry,


Get a job on Fed vessel and you can forget about layoffs forever.


Normally, layoffs happen in the marine industry every day. Contracts are lost, boats breakdown, a lot of different things can happen, seasons end, major down turns sometimes occur.

Currently, there are very few layoffs. Anyone that wants to work is busy. New jobs are available.

I don’t think 20 years is needed, especially if an engineer. Have a 1ae/chief license and a few years in the union and one should probably be fine regarding security for a long time.

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Honestly, depends on the industry one is involved with. Union work helps but some friends of mine on drillships which are not union lost their jobs over the years due to the fluctuation in oil prices. Many made a lot of money when working and some were called back but the stress took their toll. Most would have been better off working a union contract assuming they had some seniority . It’s a trade off. I rolled the dice and came out OK but I could just have easily gone the route of my friends, taking jobs when I could find them after a lay off and asking for another union job I shouldn’t have left in the first place.

Can’t speak for all the unions, but the ease at which some unions took back “past members” that left the union and went to the oil patch (and then returned when the oil patch dried up) definitely pissed a few members off.

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