Is there any way to escape mediocrity in the shipping or shipbuilding industry?

That just means the jobs were paying shit not that the unemployment benefits were “overly generous”.


Not if you work for the tugboat version of Captain Ahab here. You’ll be doing strictly mariner things. Working hard, not drinking beer, not accepting better living conditions, refusing to use wifi, navigating solely by celestial on a near coastal run. Because that’s what REAL mariners do!


Sorry, I’m not spending much time watching movies, but I Googled it:

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Soon you can too:


Don’t know if this add anything to the discussion:

Nothing about anything specific American, so maybe not.

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A lot of mariners (over many years) have told me that the reason they stopped sailing deep sea was that they didn’t like the type of people that they had to live and work with on ships.

I could say the same about my experiences (years ago) working in the oil patch.

I could say the same thing about tugboating in certain localities, or at companies anywhere that recruit cheap help from certain localities.


There’s a point around the 116th consecutive dinner with the 2 A/E in the O mess when you realize that you can’t take another conversation about chickens, bolt on 2-stroke bike kits, rod and reel magazine, or what happened during Vietnam. So, you quietly get up, shovel your shitty food into the slop bin and head up early to the bridge. Your watch partner beat you up there, has taken over the stereo, and only likes extremely horrible music. Amazingly, he also goes to the head every 9 minutes – you don’t want any grief with the SIU boys on the mooring deck so you let it all slide and choose to passively fight over the stereo for about 2 hours. An uneasy detente settles over the bridge when the mood is broken by the cadet slamming the bridge door and blinding you with a flashlight. He’s come up to do some fake celestial navigation, and continuously ask about when we’ll get cell service.

Oh! and now here’s the old man who looks like a toad clomping up the ladder well. Now he’s pulled you back into the chart room behind a curtain to scream for 25 minutes about how your hand writing sucks and you look at the ECDIS too much. He could fire you for cause – however he’ll let it slide this time – in no small part because your job hasn’t gotten filled at the hall so you’ll probably have to make the next trip too. Fortunately, the next port is Norfolk and the longshoreman always do a cracker jack job there so you can look forward to that relaxing 30-hour stint.

Ah, the life of a real sailor!


Wow. . . An absolutely perfect summation. 100%!! But don’t forget the “deck-sports” that now include DEI and sensitivity training. So we can all get along. . . :facepalm:

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Must be an outlier. I wanted to work on the water since I was a kid. Loved my days at sea. Doesn’t mean I didn’t have my share of bad days. But I always felt at home there. Never thought I would stop. Then the first child came. 2 trips later I knew I would have to stop.

I don’t think this is a unique story, thinks lots leave because of family.


When I have done survey work I am frequently envious of the new ships under foreign flags. (Although I have had many officers say that the first year or two on a Chinese-built ship can be challenging until all the kinks have been straightened out.) It takes some real skill to work on a ship that is decades past its “sell-by” date. The newest ship(s) I sailed on were Korean built in 1985 and have long since been scrapped. I worked on a number of ships that were built during WWII. Finding spare parts, integrating newly mandated equipment, dealing with structural failure, etc., all of this and more made the work quite demanding on these older ships and required a different skill set.

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I am not sure if attched below old issue(2017) of Proceedings fits well to above topic but some of the articles contained there in, seem to touch upon discussed issues . I have no idea how it all works in " Jones Act bubble" but i am familiar and have extensive hands on experience in “STCW and FOC bubble” .

Seems to me , that adulation , flatery & promotion of mediocrity, is wide spread there as well , in order to attract new labour from generation rather not interested in an idea " what can I do for the employer but rather what an employer can do for me" .

Since 1977 when I stepped on board a tall ship untill now , I must say with regret , the number of individuals who seemed to have " amputated souls " and hating their job at sea has been high.

Vol74_No1_Jan-Apr2017.pdf (4.5 MB)

I have gravitated mostly around german owners/managers (FOC) environment and noticed, that not the licence and skills both theoretical & practical, were the main determinant of early promotion at sea & on shore as well but sth else. Non german personel was frequently under impression , that having a german passport was a ticket to heaven.

From Company Magazine dd 4/2004 , where everything was spick and span and alles gute und alles un ordnung , klar und “efing” shining, which was sent by mail to all masters, I have extracted attached piece showing the genius Oli.

I met this asshole (this is a proper technical name) only once in Long Beach in 2005, when in command of APL Canada (time chartered vsl to NOL) . Pic attached.

We stayed alongside for 5 days due to some labour disputes ( strike of truckers I believe) and disch/loading ops were agonisingly slow. I rcvd an anouncement Oli was due to inspect our good vsl on arrival LB.

Knowing from fleet gossip his rather unpleasant reputation , I did not complain He did not show up as promised . But He did show up on the last day and run through the ship in a great hurry and we all had to countersign his hastily made /filled check lists and paper work. He explained his absence on arrival was due to some "very important Company business ,He had to attend to “enexpectedly”
However very friendly APL ( charterers) Agent revealed just before departure LB , genius OLI was busy 4 days sightseeing in LA. No wonder then, OLI loved visiting ships so much.

Two weeks later in HKG I received mail fm office containg his superintendent inspection report. Which was rather inconsequential , w/o any special complaints and/or recemmendations.

However genius OLI had noticed on one of the E/R bulkheads “one” greased stain with somebody’s fingerprints , hence recommended C/E and his team better und more careful cleaning and house keeping in the future.

My comment , that He was either meticulous Mr. perfect or that the smear with fingerprints was the only thing He managed to recognise in the E/R during his quick inspection , had seriously undermined my chances for future re-employments, leading to my deprture 1.5 year later.

I had my last technical superintendent with Cheng licence and long experience , who knew the ship under his care like the back of his hand 18 years ago.

Opinions of young future seafarers in below podcasts:

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I’m sure that’s what led to your departure

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Ship building is not a good industry for a highly developed country.

As you touch on the woke try and bring diversity and inclusion into the shipyard and it just works out a disaster.

I was in dry dock in the Netherlands a couple of years ago and someone from the yard was telling me that young Dutch people just don’t want to get dirty jobs as welders etc. they want clean office jobs. But who can really blame them?

If someone lives in a highly developed country and they have the choice of getting a highly paid office job or go and work in a dirty and dangerous shipyard for less money it is a no brainer.

Many of the ships for northern Europe are now being built in Turkey at shipyards such as the Cemre one. These Turkish yards do a very good job for the fraction of the cost of a yard in northern Europe.

In the UK the ferry company Calmac is building two small ferries being built in Scotland and they will end up costing $200m USD each, they’re not even finished yet and they started building them about 10 years ago.

They also ordered two similar ferries in 2022 from the Turkish yard and they will be finished on time next year for about $60m USD each.

The Turkish yards blow the north European yards out of the water in terms of cost and speed of build etc.

South Korea is a top 20 developed country in the world and they seem to do pretty well with ship building.

It certainly contributed to it but i had few more short term contracts ( 4 -5 months) with them, what gave me a chance for a few more “smart ass” observations. But there is a lesson from it : keep your mouth shut when dealing with people who have the power to dismiss and/or re-employ.

Here are some quotes proving this lesson:
Always make those above you feel comfortably
superior. In your desire to please and impress
them, do not go too far in displaying your talents
or you might accomplish the opposite—inspire
fear and insecurity. Make your masters appear
more brilliant than they are and you will attain
the heights of power.“”

above is a western approach.

Below is the eastern rule issued by Russian Tzar :wink:

" Subordinate appearing before his superior should look miserable, stupid and idiotic in order not to embarrass, disconcert and unsettle his superior with subordinate apprehensive faculties and/or wits and/or way of thinking "

Cheers and stay safe .

I remember a comment that the US lost its leading role in merchant shipping in the 1850’s. WW2 is an example. Feverish effort to create ships and crews was mostly abandoned shortly after 1945. In my life, I have worked for 4 steamship lines, an airline and an ocean marine insurance company that no longer exist.

A lot of people have a nostalgic view of ship building, but so many shipyard workers died young from the effects of working with asbestos, nothing nostalgic about that.

Not only did they die young but their wives and children died young because they took the asbestos home on their clothing.

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Because we dont need it 99% of the time. Every time this comes up, i point out the infastructure surrounding most of the abandoned WWII shipyards is still there. If we need it, our brightest minds will come to fix the problem, it wouldnt be much of a stretch for someone like Elon Musk to come in and build a fleet of autonomous oil barges that will be driven from Kansas or something crazy like that. Modular ship building didnt exist till we made during the war.

They are on their way:


In the last decade the South Korean government has had to spend over $12bn bailing out South Korean shipyards.

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