Pay cuts are here

With the large amount of jobless mariners, pay cuts have started outside of the oil field. ATB companies are now able to start New hires at 60-100 dollars a day less than normal with the abundance of mariners needing a job.

welcome to the way things have always been

we have a system which is designed to produce more new mariners every year than the industry needs. too many schools producing new baby mates and engineers. young new mariners are more interested in gaining experience and seatime to upgrade than the pay they get so are happy with even modest crumbs. as there is the perpetual over supply how can anyone blame the companies for taking advantage of it?

I might say that two of the state run schools on the east coast need to be closed as well as KP (of course) but that ain’t gonna happen. even then there would still be an oversupply of new officers out there.


I can see the writing on the wall and I have begun to look for a shoreside job.

I didn’t have the right license when things were hot and now that I do have it everything has gone bust. Story of my life.


I have seen tugboat pay drifting downward for about two years. Not always, but in general. At best it has been frozen. Only the very lowest wage companies have increased pay to attract better quality mariners. Why scrape the bottom of the barrel when you can compete for the best available captains for only a little extra. Companies have also gotten cheap about travel day pay, airfare, and even food.

The hawespipe route has been severely choked down, if not quite closed. In the future it’s mostly going to be the academies and other USCG approve Workboat training programs. The academies are graduating a lot of engineers, but the number of mates seems much lower. I’d be interested in seeing the actual graduation numbers for each academy. After talking with new mates that just graduated, they are very dispirited and regret going to the academy. The number of new mates is going to decrease for awhile.

Don’t worry. Things will get better as soon as I swallow the anchor.

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Why? Just because the job market is down right now? That’s not an industry specific problem.

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We have a school nearby that’s basically a license mill for freshly separated navy and other military. They take their GI bill money and basically hand them a 100-200 ton license and an AB Certificate and then release them to flood the local market.

They also have a “deckhand boot camp” that takes recently graduated high school kids and shows them the basics of working in a tugboat. I have yet to work with one of the kids who has graduated from it who was even close to being worth a damn. The companies love to hire them cheaply and then refuse to fire them, leaving the rest of the crew to pick up their slack.


I might as well place everything back into continuity and get a CDL and go drive a truck. I never imagined it’s been this bad.

What is the average day rate now for an AB on let’s say a 1600 ton supply boat? I was making about $273 when I left back in 2014 when it all was starting to fall apart. An I am sure a lot of guys are probably only getting 2 on 2 off instead of the normal 4 on an 2 off. I’m doing all right working on a tug as a deckhand with 2 years experience. Not near what I was making before but surviving. Just curious if I am close to what ABs are making now. Also there is usually all the extra work I want.

Last I heard the going rate on an OSV was about 180 a day for AB.

Wow! That is insane! My heart goes out to everyone that works in the GOM. I know a lot of people lost their jobs since 2014, and the ones that are still working are struggling at those day rates. If the trend continues, and I hope it doesn’t, I wish everyone the best.

AB unlimited and QMED’s make more than that just depends on the company.

Ok, 200.

in general day rates are what they were a decade ago.
if one is still able to have the option of 4/2 instead of equal time they are fortunate.

A decade. Wages are still what they were a decade ago.

My prediction: fewer and fewer young people are going to go work on tug’s, ships, OSVs, whatever. Because it’s nearly $1000 up front just to get the paperwork you need. Then no one will hire you without experience except backwards shitbird companies that will simply drive those new people right back out of the industry.

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Adjusted for the real cost of inflation wages are lower than they were three decades ago. It’s also become time consuming and expensive to obtain and maintain all these credentials that may companies now want.

There will always be more than enough unlicensed guys for tugs. Obviously, it’s still way to easy for the academy kids and the licensed OSV mariners to switch to tugs.

Nothing is USCG required for tugs under 100 GRT. Nowadays that’s tugs up to 120’ and 6000 hp. No MMC required for the unlicensed guys. No STCW required for the licensed guys on a tug under 200 GRT.

The tug companies will do their own safety training in-house, mostly by having the guys watch videos off watch. There will be some reading, workbooks, and open book exams so the company can build a file to prove they gave safety training. The companies moving oil will be required to have fully credentialed guys, but not most other tugs.

When the oil patch has its next boom they will have a big shortage for awhile. They will raise wages enough to greenmail guys away from fishing boats, tugs, and deep sea. The USCG will allow the bayou mafia to create a lot of instant new mariners limited to OSVs and the Gulf. The maritime academies will increase enrollment. When the next oil patch boom ends, we’ll be right back where we are now all over again.


Captive audience… Get them an OSV license and they can’t go anywhere else.

They cannot go anywhere else right away, that’s the justification for the easy oil patch licenses with less seatime and easy exams. But eventually the USCG comes out with a giveaway program so they can get anything they want.

Most AHTS vessels only spend a few days a year towing rigs and running anchors, no barge handling at all, yet their guys use all of their time onboard, not just the actual “towing” time, to get their"tugboat" seatime for Master of Towing.

Now there are giveaways to convert OSV only licenses to unlimited licenses. This allows the OSV guys to flood every other sector of the industry with licenses.


I was under the impression from my experience that even the smaller tug companies require at the very least an OS with STCW, even though regulatory wise its not a requirement.
I’ve noticed a trend lately that even companies with boats under 200 grt want the engineer to have documentation.
My point is, is that even a lot of the ‘entry level’ or ‘stepping stone’ companies are raising the bar for new hires. Probably because they can with all the qualified people out of work these days.

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Could it also be because Charterers and/or Underwriters/P&I Clubs demands it??

I know it is hard to believe, but some Owners are even willing to pay extra for better qualified crews to improve efficiency and safety, thus decreasing risk of damages to their expensive assets.

Ditto that. When I teach radar courses the school I teach at organizes it so all three levels of original radar students can be in the same class. Some just are out in three days as opposed to four, or five for unlimited. Even though the majority of students are from riverboats, there is always one or two students staying the entire week to take the unlimited course per their companies request. Not all riverboat companies do that, but a few do.