Mariner Shortage

What makes you think I have the answer? If someone does, please spare us the continuation of this circular discussion.

Your original claim was, and I quote: "It takes more time to become a ship captain than a brain surgeon. " My response was, and I quote “Undergrad and med school take 8 years. Internship and residency take another 6 to 8 years.”
Do you really not know the difference between a doctor and brain surgeon?

The 8 years includes a 4 year undergraduate degree, most countries don’t require that and getting hospital privileges without being board certified, not likely. Internship/residency and specialization works out to be about 10 years in most countries. However, in most 1st world countries outside the USA the average doctor makes about the same as masters and chief engineers. Not as prestigious for sure but one cannot eat prestige. A very good friend of mine was a family practitioner in the USA that worked long hours 48 weeks a year and didn’t make as much money a year as many mariners I know.

You’ve obviously never flown the line as an FO. But, just to keep the discussion in some kind of relative perspective, I wonder how many stripes, how many years, and how much command experience was on the bridge of the Ever Forward.

The finer points of airplane pilot licensing is interesting, to be sure, however…

On the subject of the OP article, while I’m hesitant to disagree with the analysis of Admiral Buzby, I still struggle with the quantification of this “shortage”.

He points out that the sealift fleet would be the RRF, MSC, and the US flagged vessels in the MSP.

MSC vessels are, generally speaking, fully crewed, even if reliefs are not forthcoming. MSP vessels are supposed to be active vessels, which would imply fully crewed. And RRF are supposed to be something like 50% crewed, though perhaps it’s less in reality.

The academies, KP included, are putting out several hundred licensed officers per year. I understand that beyond the state academy kids who signed up for SSO that only the KPers have an obligation, but not that long ago there were many KPers who got dispensation for their obligation because there aren’t enough US flag sailing positions.

So I find it hard to believe that there would be this great shortage if a surge was needed. 50% crew up for RRF plus reliefs for the rest. I would grant that there could be a shortage of captive/obligated mariners, but between those who are not obligated, those sailing brown water or foreign flag who feel particularly patriotic, and those with active licenses who have gone shoreside, I don’t see there being an actual shortage.

Is contingency a way to plan a war? Perhaps not. Might appropriate pay be required to entice “patriotism”? Perhaps so. And might a wartime mandate that state academies obligate their licensed grads serve the war effort? I think it could happen. But 1,800+ mariner shortage? I don’t see it.

On another note, while I’ve always thought KP should be shut down as superfluous and waste of federal tax payer dollars compared to state academies, the Admiral does have a point that increasing enrollment and therefor increasing obligated SSOs would solve a theoretical shortage.

Let the first few ships go down via torpedos and/or hypersonic missiles, then we’ll have an accurate gauge on the level of patriotism amongst the merchant mariners.

Just based on what I’ve seen, we’re going to have a hard time manning the ships if that happens.

Considering how well the merchant mariners were treated during and after the last conflict that they faced extensive dangers, would you fault them?

So, family practitioner makes less than master/chief who makes less than airline pilot…and which one spent the most time and money in school/apprenticeship(aka residency)? Pretty sad.

Ahh, but since we have no mass shipbuilding capabilities and such a small fleet, after a few are sunk there won’t be much in the way of ships to man, further reducing this crewing shortage!

Sad? I find your outrage at the size of other peoples’ salaries is a little odd. If money is your primary goal in life, why not go where the money is instead of bitching that some other careers pay more than the one you chose. Some preachers travel in Gulfstreams and Rolls Royces while their flocks are in rags. Some plumbers make more than some teachers. So what? It’s called capitalism. Would you prefer rigid government controls over salaries in the style of the former USSR. It’s called communism and didn’t end well.

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Take the costs of that sinkhole and use them to fund training requirements of existing mariners. Use the remainder to provide bonuses or benefits to those who sign on gray funnel boats.


The family practitioner I spoke about did not base his career choice on how much money he would make. He chose his profession to help people as a GP. We went to school together. he was a National Merit scholar among other honors He dd not choose his profession to make money and neither did I we just chose what made us happy .We both ended up pretty content. Anyone in the maritime profession that is not pretty secure financially have only themselves to blame. Sure maritime unions are fragmented and do not have the cohesion or power of the ALPA but who’s fault is that?

For sure … divided we may starve. The companies learned early on that we were capable of doing more damage to ourselves than they could do to a coordinated and cohesive maritime workforce.


Yes, sad. Because it takes a lot of hard work and money to become a physician.

Cool story boomer. So your buddy loves his job and didn’t do it for pay. That’s great. But for the rest of the world, part of choosing a career path is about making a cost/benefit analysis.

If somebody has to spend 200-400k +8 years of life in education (very difficult education, with insane studying) and then several years (4-6+) in a low paying apprenticeship (residency), they should be rewarded for their efforts.

Why? Because I want smart people with high IQs to be surgeons. I want the best. And guess what smart people with high IQs WON’T do if they are going to make less than a government bureaucrat that might not even have a degree? I’ll help you: that high IQ person is NOT going to spend 10+ years of their life and 200-400k in tuition to become a physician. They are going to go into a more lucrative career to ensure a higher quality of life.

Take your altruistic hippy bullshit elsewhere. You don’t reward people for hard work, you’ll just get stupid low IQ people taking the jobs.


So how did you make your career path analysis? Make an error or are you happy with the career you chose? Boomer is curious :grin:

But if somebody has to spend 200-400k and 8 years of life in education, say a Bachelor’s in early childhood development, a Masters in education, perhaps a phd in public education, and several years in low paying apprenticeships (teaching assistant)….I guess they should be rewarded for their efforts too?

Oh wait, that’s not how this works.

Even if I too would want “smart people with high IQs” molding the minds of our next generation.

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The Mariner shortage is because some companies are still not paying enough or offering enough benefits in order to convince people to work at sea over shore side. Heard recently one company was offering only 100k for a tanker third mate & no WiFi (…red stack) but AMO union training benefits and another company offering around 120k (…polar bear stack) but limited advancement opportunities and no union training and other benefits. Meanwhile I’ve been pointing others towards deep sea companies and openings that are paying in 130k range with really good benefits and also WiFi onboard.
Message for any new third mates if you are making under 130k without killer benefits too, then You are underpaid!


Teachers are any countries greatest asset but sadly they are underpaid in public schools in many states in the USA, I’m beginning to think that is by design.
IQ really doesn’t count for much and this has been proven time and again. It’s like natural athletic ability. You may have the natural born potential but if you’re not willing to put in the work and education to develop that ability it’s all for naught.

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Absolutely correct if you ignore the existence of people who follow career paths chosen for altruistic reasons or god forbid their selfish need for adventure rather than by how much they pay. By your account they are low IQ morons. You can forget getting an invitation the next time I invite a bunch of those fools to one of my soirées.

There is absolutely no comparison between the education you just listed and medical school + residency. It’s like comparing an ABET engineering degree to a business admin or psychology degree.

And job does one need a phd in education for? Our education system 75 years ago produced results than it does today for the average student. It didn’t take an entire educational-industrial-complex to teach kids how to read, write, and do basic math back then…

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Look you’re the one who said those who spend the most time and money on education should make more.

Most public schools require advanced education or certification to be a teacher. Some require a masters. Most public school admin positions, principles, superintendents (good ones anyway) require a masters or PhD.

You can’t get a bachelors in basket weaving at most public or private universities these days for less than $200-250k out the door. Yet with an undergrad finance degree and a series 7 you could make much more than a doctor in your first year out. An underwater welder doesn’t need any degree at all, and they make a pretty penny.

Point is, its not sad that a Airline Pilot or a Master/CE can make more than a family practitioner. Salary in every industry is not strictly dependent on cost and time of formal education. And in the case of the Master/CE, you don’t get that position right out of school, education doesn’t end after graduation, and any company paying worth a damn isn’t just taking any schmuck who’s ink is still wet on the license.