MSC nearing manpower collapse

Oh man this is a depressing thread.

There are two answers that are very simple, Either increase pay to adjusted 1980’s levels, or it’s time the US Merchant marine buttons up shop. By eliminating what’s left of the commercial fleet, all the Americans would end up at MSC, and National defense is saved.

I see jobs like this every day that make me want to stop sailing. Why would anyone sail longer than they have to when you can make a shoreside jump with little to no downside and almost the same pay.

I remember think the guys in the SIU Facebook groups were crazy when they said “They’ll be sorry when they put out these Vaccine mandates” and here we are with 90+ AB jobs on the board.

Sure we don’t have A/E’s, which is bad, but do we even have the capacity to crank out that many RFPNWs when war breaks out? Do we even have enough RFPNWs to crew up all the ROROs Tote runs?

The more you think about it, the whole Merchant Marine is on the brink of collapse, Or the someone has a different plan for current merchant mariners come WWIII.


Do you know the pay for that position? I would not be shocked if it is 100k max or lower. Most seamen would probably make 50% of what they make at sea.

It says 105-115k plus bonus.

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This one is 105-115k, But I’ve seen other maritime industry shoreside jobs looking for deckies listed as high as $135k. There lots of work down here in South Florida for deckies, but if you get a little creative after a couple years sailing Chief Mate+, I’m confident most seafarers at that level can sell themselves as a general industrial operations manager/Director in the $100k-$150k range outside our industry easily. That may be a 50% pay cut at the master’s level, but if your personal operating budget has crept on so you can’t survive on less than $200k, that’s on you. I see job descriptions every day looking for people to manage day to day plant operations, create/execute/track routine preventative maintenance, Manage a team… Essentially a chief mate working bankers hours.

I wouldn’t take a 50% pay cut personally, but I would consider a 25% cut in exchange for sleeping in my own bed, owning a cat, eating whatever food I fancy, always having cell service, having a family that loves me, ect.

Transitioning to shoreside in engineering sounds easy, they just throw money at you. I think the dumbest 2nd engineer has a wide enough range of experience and knowledge to be invaluable in some of shoreside companies. I’ve heard of folks tripling their salary going shoreside. Hence why we have no engineers to take jobs right now.


You would take a pay cut to own a cat?! :rofl:

(I feel the same way about dogs, so … but. Still.)


Ouch. Just ouch…


I, a year ago, tried to sign up with MSC. When I was still waiting for them to process after 6 months, I went and found a steady job. Their hiring system is absolutely ridiculous. Retired military, with 20 years of Merchant Marine experience. Was not a pleasant experience; I walked. I WANTED to participate, and give something back!


This is nothing new. It’s just getting more attention as time goes on. More time off and respect for the mariners is what is needed in my humble opinion. Hire the right people in the first place and treat them well. If you make good money, have a good work/life situation and are treated fairly and with respect, why would people leave? Benefits are good. It hasn’t changed in decades. Same old wine in a brand new bottle.

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It’s demoralizing. MSC’s misuse and waste of human and financial capital seems to be an inherent feature of most businesses run by the feds. No profit or success oriented enterprise would survive if it was managed with that level of apathy.


From the outside looking into MSC:
A lot of theories as to why they have poor retention.

Does MSC ever ask their mariners why they have poor retention?

Do they attempt exit surveys?

Do they have periodic surveys asking mariners asking specific questions about scheduling, time-off, job satisfaction, and all the rest, so they can track the trend of the answers over the years?

Plenty of theories for the retention problem. Where is the data? If they have it already can we see it?

Survey Monkey and cell phones make surveys easy.


I know a 3ae getting 150k a year if doing 6months even time, 8hr nominal work days, pension, and other union bennies.

As somebody that has extensive experience with engineering jobs on land in all kinds of industrial settings, I would love to learn about these high paying jobs that will triple average 2 or 3ae pay.

The plant manager of a major power plant is probably making 200-250k. He likely has 100-200 people working for him, is 50+ years old and spends 60hours a week working. His job is way above the level of a captain or chief engineer. So pass on the info of these high paying shore jobs that dwarf going to sea, because I’ve been out of the game on land a while.


Agreed. The fact that they send every new hire to firefighting class, no exceptions, is nuts. When I started there a month after graduating the ink on my Advanced FF cert was still wet but I still had to go to MSCs Basic FF class on the government dime. Such a waste.

And it doesn’t get any more efficient once you start work. Every time off I got called back after just 28 days, but then sat in their hotel for a month waiting on an assignment, and even then messaging guys who were overdue and being told there were no reliefs.

Do they know there’s a problem? Of course. Have they known for a while? Here’s a report from 22 years ago that might as well have been written today.

All the reports and articles identify a shortage, but none offer any solution on how to solve it.


Marine engineering is not my area of expertise, the jobs ive heard about in the 200-300k range were what I heard folks were making working on troubleshooting and overhauling large marine engines. You’d know more what youre qualified for more than me if you just search on LinkedIn. I was surprised to hear that number too frankly.

This third is making more than I am as a 2nd, however i still have a hunch youre undervaluing their time. Mariners are generaly paid a day rate, which is made up of 24 hours, so even at 830 a day youre still making 35/Hr which is ealy suprassed on land. If youre a Buccees car wash manager, which ive seen advertised at $125k/year probably working 40 hours a week. If the car wash catches on fire at 3AM, no one is expecting the car wash manger to dress up like a firefighter and put it out. After a long day of managing the car wash, if you want to go to taco bell, you are free to do so. A 3rd engineer on a ship running out of food on the way to Diego does not have that privileged. This is why we should stop acting like our day rate is for a 8/12 hour day, you are being paid to be on call/restricted 24 hours a day as long as you are onboard. From what i hear, most land folks clock in when they get in the building and clock out when they leave. We’re clocked in between sign on and sign off.

Its worth mentioning that most shoreside employers offer the same benefits as the unions do, ive seen enough old timers get in trouble betting on a pension that that is not something I reccomend new mariners bet on for retirement anyway. Beyond that the only draw for union retirement is that maybe the US doesnt figure out national healthcare in the next 20 years, and then in AMO’s case youd have to be making less than 50k a year to qualify for Medical for life.

I dont want to come across as sayong youre dumb for sailing, if you love what you do dont let anyone bring that negative energy into your life, but the “youre never going to get anything better than this” mentality is the same rhetoric a toxic ex girlfriend would pull. There are in fact lots of options and the proof is in the job board… the fleet is shrinking and we’re still short handed, apparently to the point of not being able to run all the unrep stations.


I have often thought that MSC is a clusterfuck by design in order to get congress to turn it over to their buddies.


Very rare to see actual pay scales posted. I remain skeptical on the pay claim.

The rest of your post is valid on all points. However, for 6+ months a year I don’t have to think about work, answer emails, or do reports. Alternative jobs, like fixing engines as you mentioned, usually require extensive travel, and it’s often shittier than shipping (hotels, commutes, flights all the time). It’s basically a case of choose your poison.

Hopefully the jobs go unfilled and pay increases. If AMO, MM&P, and MEBA didn’t all exist and instead merged into one, this would be beneficial for the members. AMO benefits and the majority of AMO pay scales are much lower than the other two. Maybe engineers will make vastly more than mates one day as well. If for no other reason than being an engineer is generally much harder on the body.


Maybe it’s easier to deal with machinery that doesn’t talk back than being a mate and having to deal with with humans who do talk back all the while keeping the ship pointed away from trouble. Apples and oranges.

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If only there were some sort of federal maritime academy where the service obligation could be changed from reserves to actively sailing for MSC. Kinda like how every other federal academy requires years of active, not reserve, duty upon graduation.


Machines can be stubborn pain-in-the-ass moody drama queens as bad or worse than any human. You’ve just never had to deal with it…push lever forward, turn wheel left…ship magically turns


Cats. Yup they hide their turds!


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