Maritime Executive magazine plays t-ball with this one and still strikes out


A full American, as opposed to a hyphenated American, is someone who was born here. A “real American” could be applied to an immigrant that actually really wants to be here and fully integrates to the culture.


No duh. But things like mariner shortages will still drive up wages, there’s no way the employers could stop it.


If you were working for BP on a Liberian flag tanker, I bet that your employment agreement would specify that any claims must be arbitrated in London under U.K. Law. US law generally favors arbitration and choice of law provisions in contracts.

If there were no employment agreement, which MLC and U.K. laws both require, I expect the case would end up in UK courts.

If for some bizarre theoretical reason, UK courts would not hear the case, then it would fall to Liberia. If you could argue successfully that Liberia has inadequate corrupt courts and that you could not get fair consideration of your case in Liberia, then you could argue that since the Liberian Registry is based in the US, and BP is registered to do business in the US and has major offices and business operations in the US (sufficient contacts to confer personal jurisdiction) that a US court should hear your case.

Practically speaking, for reasons of financing, taxation, and limitation of liability, many shipowners have each ship owned by a separate corporation, and then have a separate crewing agency that employs the crew. Many US companies routinely do this, including Seattle companies and bayou companies. So that “BP tanker” you were working on may actually belong to an Isle of Man PLC, that is owned by a Ukrainian Trust, and you may actually be employed by a crewing agency in Malta. There will be some sort of MLC compliant employment agreement that specifies how legal claims are to be handled. It may not be fair.


Some states may allow or require filing in the employers state. Some states require filing in the state of residence, but if the employer(s) is/are in different state(s) that the state of residency, it usually is an interstate claim filed in state of residence, but paid by the employers state under that state’s rules. Some states refuse to pay unemployment if you are “fired for cause”. In some states unemployment is not based upon your last employer, it’s based upon who was your employer in your “base year.”, the base year is usually last year. Then there are “alternate base years”. It can be very complicated and more bother than it’s worth, or it can be worth doing in an employee friendly high paying state, like Washington or Alaska. It depends on how quickly you can go back to work somewhere else. In good times, that may be the next day. In bad times, it may be next year.


Nothing in the Jones Act that you just quoted authorizes a US court to exercise extra-territorial subject matter jurisdiction over injuries that occur on foreign ships outside of US waters. The Act is entirely silent on that point, so there is no extra-territorial jurisdiction. Furthermore, even if the Jones Act explicitly stated “American seamen can sue foreign ships for injuries that occur outside the US”, that would not make it true. The US constitution and Supreme Court case law places limits on a US Court’s personal jurisdiction over foreign defendants. No point in even getting into international treaties. US seamen cannot sue foreign ships or companies in US courts for injuries that occur outside of the US.


but regardless, the US citizen seaman has access to US courts and with potentially high damage awards available to the injured makes the owner/operator very reluctant to hire American mariners and often liability underwriters will specifically say “no Americans” in their policies to eliminate all potential for a suit to be filed and heard in the USA.

I have spoke with a cruise industry exec once about this very subject (Seattle based Holland America Line) and he told me flat out that they will not discuss shipboard employment opportunities with US citizens for this very reason even though they were a big pioneer with developing SE Alaska cruises with their ships sailing out of Seattle.


if this is so, please explain why an American mariner is NOT afforded any opportunity to sail on foreign merchant ships including those which never call in the USA?


I feel insulted…


For a lot of reasons, including because too many people have spread the ridiculous misperception for too long that American seaman and American lawyers are sue happy money grabbers that file frivolous claims and crazy US courts and juries make multimillion dollar awards against shipowners to every seaman who got a hangnail. Just because that misperception is wide spread doesn’t make it true. Nor does the fact that well intentioned people who should know better continue to spread this harmful sea story, make it true. It is completely untrue.

Furthermore, an American unlimited license holder who puts some effort into it, he can find a foreign flag shipping job. But it will probably be for relatively small money. For a young 2nd or 3rd Mate, that needs seatime to upgrade it’s a great opportunity. For an older Unlimited Master, he can probably find more profitable shoreside opportunities. Engineers are in high demand for good paying shore jobs; they don’t need to consider shipping foreign flag.

The main reason only a few Americans sail foreign flag is because most don’t try. The second reason is that they will not work for the small money foreign flag shipping pays.

You worked on high paying foreign flag drillships. So did many others. Some still do. Eventually, there will be foreign flag drilling jobs again.


Read my next sentence. They did.


Then you’re whole post where you think you’re “teaching” me English is exactly what I described in my post that you were replying to. Why bother reply then? Why claim to be correcting me?


There are a few, very few, US and Canadian I know who have sailed 3rd flag (Not counting drill ships). Most were very happy and the wage was comparable to sailing under their flag, they admitted it was a bit lower but also understood that bulkers generally pay less than tankers, which let less than LNG, etc. The problem, as has been mentioned previously, is getting the foot in the door with a decent operator. I hear what you are saying and would do what was necessary for income but most people can find other work ashore that would be comparable, or greater, to many “vessels of opportunity”. I can earn more in month subbing at local schools than some of the 3rd flag numbers that have been tossed around but again, I would do what I have to do.


Well Duh … unless they can be genetically traced back to the Vikings or earlier and have blue eyes and blonde hair I too would say they are South Asians.

Americans? We are mutts, a polyglot bunch and if some bachelor Norwegian farmer is only 2nd or 3rd generation American and has lived and reproduced within the ethnic community then he certainly can call himself a Norwegian if he wants to and no one is going to get upset about it.

If a Pakistani called himself Norwegian in any respect other than paying taxes or having a Norwegian mailing address I think it would earn a good laugh in most places.


Norwegians are no longer a homogenous society. 14% of today’s residents are born outside Norway, That is comparable to US I believe? In fact it has never been, with people from other European countries settling here over the centuries.

Someone born here of foreign immigrant parents, who know no other country and has no knowledge of other cultures, other than as learnt in school, is not a Norwegian?? I agree that ethnically he/she is not Norwegian, but for all other purposes they are, in my book. Maybe because I’m not hung up in such things, having spent most of my time in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural part of the world and having worked in an International industry all my working life?


You mean that Bachelors REPRODUCE in America??? The horror. Isn’t that against strongly held American moral norms??


why on earth are you taking this steadfast position here? what is the point you are trying to make? if American mariners aren’t excluded from employment on foreign ships for liability reasons then why are there so few found working foreign? why is there not one foreign shipowner seeking US nationals to serve in their fleets? answer me that one please…


The above is neither a misperception nor ridiculous. IT IS TRUE.


Open registers normally require the master to be familiar with the maritime law pertaining to that country. Norway maintains a school in Manila where prospective masters receive instruction in the marine regulations for Norwegian shipping. The regulations are simple for anyone holding British or British Commonwealth qualifications as they are almost identical.
For foreign seamen requiring medical attention in the USA they are covered by the P & I Club that the shipowner belongs to. A valid certificate showing which P & I Club the ship is insured under is a mandatory requirement of the ship’s documentation.


I know several Canadians that have sailed on foreign OSVs. I also know Canadians that sail US flag, I’ve got one onboard right now. Yes, dual citizen. It seems a great many Canadians are dual citizens.


You, and others, should stop spreading this untrue and harmful nonsense. This false sea story is widely and incorrectly believed and limits foreign flag opportunities for American mariners.

Americans can and do get foreign flag jobs. You worked for years on foreign flag drillships. We both know Americans working on foreign flag drillships right now. Some of them are overseas, not only in the Gulf. There are other jobs that AmericNs with the right CeC and industrial training might get.


…and they attended church in Lake Wobegon. Either our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility (catholic) or the Lutheran church down the street, across from the Chatterbox Cafe.

(Google A Prairie Home Companion for explanation)