MARAD Head ‘Not At All Confident’ Ready Reserve Fleet Could be Crewed in a Crisis

The head of the Maritime Administration “was not at all confident” that all the ships in the Ready Reserve Fleet could be crewed if called to duty in a crisis.

The United States was already short 1,8000 credentialed mariners for its vessels before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, retired Rear Adm. Ann Phillips said Tuesday in a joint hearing of the House Armed Services readiness and seapower and projection forces subcommittees.

She pointed to the addition of five more vessels transferred from Military Sealift Command to MARAD control and retirements of an aging workforce as likely pushing the gap for merchant mariners even higher.

While the House Armed Services Committee last year approved a grant program for MARAD to expand its Centers of Excellence program to attract and retrain mariners, there were no funds set aside to pay for it.
MARAD Head ‘Not At All Confident’ Ready Reserve Fleet Could be Crewed in a Crisis

I’m confident there’s a waiver form in the bottom drawer of their desk. Walk over to the xerox, press “1000” and problem solved. The vessels would all have sovereign immunity so no port state control or STCW issues. Put me and my classmates at the Norfolk sea buoy and we can all find Gibraltar without bouncing off each other.

Oh, and pay up.


This is the most important point! Sr officers should make similar to airline captains.

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I don’t see the economic case for that, but if you’re going to dream dream big.

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When asked, Van Ovost said that recapitalizing the Ready Reserve Fleet is on a schedule of buying two used vessels and modifying them for military use and also building would not be complete until 2032.

One way to speed construction would be follow the model used in Philadelphia to build Empire State VI for MARAD, Courtney said. In Philadelphia, there was a designated vessel construction manager whose duties were to keep the building on schedule and held to the fixed price.

Wait, has MARAD really never used a construction manager for vessel projects before this?!? Is this a joke?


That’s why MARAD ROS ships pay so well when they activate. It’s short term temporary work but they money is stupid good compared to other contracts.


I agree with the head of Marad. I am not confident we would be able to crew up in a crisis.

Officers are one problem, unlicended are another. There are 80 AB jobs on the SIU board right now. Honestly deck officer are probably the least of our worries, engine side is another cluster all together.


I hope to see the day that engineers make more than mates. If for no other reason than the job is much tougher on the body.

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You mean the chairs in the ERC are not as comfortable as on the bridge?:

Don’t worry, ergonomic design will soon be coming to a ECR near you:

The only engineer I’ve ever seen with a white boiler suit that clean is a Chief. The rest of them are busy pulling pistons, rebuilding pumps, and other maintenance and repair activities. For the past 30 years engineers have suffered the results of UMS, while mates continue to get paid the same to stare out a window, or at a screen (cargo ops).


They get paid for staring at screens on the bridge too.
(Just look at the illustration picture in my post above)

When I was sailing unlicensed, officers frequently told me: “…I get paid for what I know, not what I do.”

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Every officer license I’ve seen in the rack has something to the affect of “Any Unlicensed (deck or engine) Position”

Sure, there will be a lot of butthurt USMMA grads when they realize that they’re being shipped as an unlicensed, but I also haven’t seen anything saying that USMMA grads have to sail as officers during a call up.

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I dont how many deck officers USMMA puts out a year, but by my google math, one one whole class would barely crew 5 ships. And then you stil consider how many 3rd mates are ahowing up on the boards as it is, crewing up is going to be rough.

Especially since a good chunk of these vessels are steam and not many engineers have steam licenses past 3rd AE anymore.


A normal “call up” isn’t a draft. No one has to take a bullet they don’t want. Maybe if they were paid 3rd mate wages to sail as AB they’d take the jobs.

There’s a “call up” happening right now and it’s nearly impossible to crew the vessels.

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A call up? Is that when they just call people to see if they would be able to crew up the vessels?- I have never been called ever.
Or is here another big turbo activation going on right now? Because I haven’t seen any jobs on the board for that and haven’t been called by anyone.

They’re activating Ready Reserve Fleet ships left and right.

Which board?

Thats a psv so cargo work includes the DP system
The other upgrade to a bridge crews skills since ecdis ( and gmdss)
Edcis and dp creating many accidents due to poor skills and training.

Imagine on some boats where they are full diesel electric and the bridge crew have to manage the power…
Shock horror we have the learn something…

Out of curiosity how many vessels are we talking? (I say as one of the aforementioned chiefs with steam 3rds)