As an industry outsider, I find the proliferation of ATBs particularly interesting. I’ve seen some describe their proliferation as the bane of the industry and others propose they’re the forefront of the American Merchant Marine. I’ve done plenty of reading, but have failed to find a definitive answer to the central questions in this emerging sector: Why use ATBs? Do companies realize enormous tax benefits or savings on salary expense by manning ATBs with less crew members? Also, what are the long term implications to the industry?
In a nutshell: as professional mariners, what is your opinion of ATBs and what impact do you feel they will ultimately have on the American maritime industry?