Salaries on Tankers and ATBs?

I’m currently out as a cadet observer on a lightering vessel in the Gulf of Mexico, which will hopefully enable me to obtain a PIC endorsement for my license at the end of my 90 days. This has me thinking about the possibility of working on tankers or ATBs after I finish school. Can anyone give me a general idea of the range of salaries for a third mate unlimited oceans with a PIC working an even time schedule on a tanker and on an ATB? Thanks.

If you go with the ATB’s, you’ll need your towing endorsement also. Mates are $400 to $500 @ day. Some pay full travel, some partial. Contracts, benifits and equipment vary. Being well aquainted with IG systems helps.

Thanks for the response Injunear. After reading a few of your posts, it seams like you have spent some time on ATBs.

My understanding is that a towing endorsement placed on an existing unlimited mate’s license only requires 20 days of training if you are working 12 hour days. Is this correct? Would one of the major ATB companies (Bouchard, Penn, Crowley, OSG, K-Sea, USS) hire a mate with a 3rd unlimited and PIC but not a towing endorsement?

Can anyone give me an idea of the salary range on tankers?

What about the typical work schedules on an ATB v. a tanker? Is it 2-3 weeks v. 2-3 months?


Crowley, Bouchard and K-Sea are running a minimum three licensed guys in the wheelhouse and possibly a training mate. The training mate is where you would be. Unfortunately, in the event of an emergency notch breakaway the vessel will need to be towed and you need the Towing Endorsement. This should not be a problem with the 1600 ton. I am an engineer but if I recall all you need is the TOAR signed off and (30?) days. It does not have to be practical. You will not have to have 30 days towing. If you show knowledge and have the master sign off on it you meet the requirements. You will not get 12 hours a day at Crowley. (Unless you can convince them to credit 4 hours of off watch time). Bouchard varies but most of the ATB are 4 on 8 off.

The IBU is 502 a day for engineers. I imagine a qualified mate is close to that. I am not sure about a training mate. It should not matter though because it has to be more than you are making now. The IBU ATB’s are 28 and 28, Some of the SIU are that and some are 42 and 42.

Forget about getting your TOAR signed off in 30 days by any self respecting Master or Mate, it is a practical demonstration of your skills.

Ever made up, knocked out??? Legally a Toar can be obtained in 30 days but as I said, don’t plan on it unless you have some really good dirt on the DE who will sign off for you.

Cheng and Tugster, thanks for the info. I know on many tugs the deck officers work 6 on 6 off, but it sounds like there are three deck officers on many ATBs and therefore they use the 4 on 8 off schedule. So in theory, that would be 30 days to get the TOAR, but in actuality it could likely be several months to get the Master or Mate to sign off on it. 28-42 days is a little longer than I was hoping for, but it’s certainly better than 3 months.

Would I be able to work on the TOAR sign offs while I was a training mate or would I have to work in an unlicensed position? Anyone know what a training mate makes or how long before you are bumped up to Mate? Are all of the jobs on ATBs through a union or do some of the companies hire non-union? Anyone aware of shorter work schedules, maybe 14-21 days? I appreciate any information or advice you have for me.

I believe you can download a copy of a TOAR from the CG’s NMC website. That will give you a better idea of the time that will be required. Since the requirements are for proficiency at certain things they will need to be learned and practiced, not just observed one time. I think 6 months to a year is the least amount of time you can expect to have it all completed.

good luck

Bouchard and K-Sea are not union, Crowley is. I have opinions of the unions but they are not for posting here. I would hate to be the first gCaptain member to be banned by John. Unions are a part of life. I would not take or turn down a job based on if it were or were not union.

If 28 days is longer than you were hoping for you may want to consider another career. That is the shortest rotation you will find with VERY few exceptions of offshore carriers.

A training mate will make less than a qualified mate. Call Crowley or others HR officer. They will tell you.

As far as the time it will take you to pull a watch as a mate of towing? Time for a reality check. This may sound harsh but this is how it is.

No company is going to put you (or any other green mariner) behind the wheel of a hundred million dollar rig pushing 12,000,000 gallons of gasoline in the Western Rivers or NY Harbor (especially NY Harbor) until you prove yourself. How long would you want the guy that you sign off to show you he has the mustard. This is not a gig that you learn overnight. You will be pushing these units in restricted maneuvering situations and the guys in the bunks below you want to know that they can sleep with you at the wheel. The USCG assessment should be the least of your concerns. Get the job and let things happen.

Cajuntugster is correct in stating that it will be difficult to get it signed off in 30 days.

Cajun, I was not implying that it was like a STCW assessment, only that if certain equipment were not on the vessel he could demonstrate knowledge in lieu of practical skills for the signature of the DE.

You can find out more about the TOAR here:

It is not only the Master that you have to prove yourself to. Most of the crews out here are tight and they will talk about you to each other. In front of you, and behind your back. It would serve you well that, when you get on the boat do something to instill the confidence of the crew. I have found that when a new guy comes to the boat and hand washes my coveralls I tend to respect him more. Cream, one sugar…

Damn, Cheng, that was a bad ass post! You pretty much said everything I was gonna say and then some. Bravo! I will, however, point out a potential roadblock for our young ATB candidate, and anyone else considering the same path: it is likely that the CG will not grant a towing endorsement to him if all of his “towing” experience is on an ATB, which is a blatant oxymoron since almost all pin boats don’t tow, they just push. In New York Harbor there have been numerous people who had to be reassigned to conventional boats for real towing experience before the CG would accept their sea time as “towing service”, which IMHO is exactly as it should be. This was, however, for apprentice mates working their way through the towing license path. For already-licensed crossovers from other sectors I don’t know how they figure it. How much is enough for the CG (from a regulatory standpoint) is not known because it isn’t in the regs or a policy letter or a NVIC. This is an issue that needs to be addressed formally and soon as ATB’s are becoming more and more prevalent. The [B]30-Day Wonder[/B] program is bad enough already. The last thing we need is 30-Day ATB Wonders with unrestricted towing licenses in hand…

Take Cheng’s advice and settle in to learn for the long haul.

I always thought that Bouchard was Local 333. I have been wrong before, though. Good stuff about working on tugs, though. I worked both tugs and ITB’s in my jaded past. It was as an engineer, though, so I can’t address too much about the Towing Endorsement. It has been some years, too, so I imagine that the other qualifications have changed.

Bouchard is Local 333, but it is not required to join the union to be employed. Most of the guys that have been there for a while stayed union but the majority of the new hires, opt not to join.

There has been some rumblings about an ATB towing endorsement. I shudder to think. If something bad happens and you’re knocked out of the notch, you’re on a top-heavy short-crewed hawser boat. The only thing more dangerous than a short-crewed tug is a fully crewed tug with a green crew. I haven’t experienced the former but the crew I sail with are well seasoned tugboat hands and can handle about anything thrown at them.

Wages are closing between the outfits. SIU, MMP and IBU have “me too” clauses with CPS. Example, the day rates for Chiefs with SIU currently draw $527. The IBU rate is lower but the ATO makes up the difference.

So just for purposes to compare with the GoM, is that $527 an all inclusive dayrate or is there any OT or vacation on top of that?

To me this seems like a low number…

There’s a few odd pluses. Paid travel, 28/28, employer paid med contributions, cap-off pension with 2 for one contributions.(my favorite) With 7300 days, early normal retirement, The AB to mate program pays the 28/28 wages while the hands are in Piney Point. Paid travel to school. Oh yea, 4/1 Chief’s wages will be $549.03.

[quote=c.captain;9530]So just for purposes to compare with the GoM, is that $527 an all inclusive dayrate or is there any OT or vacation on top of that?

To me this seems like a low number…[/quote]

Man, I remember sailing for US$160/day and thinking that I was well paid. . . .

I remember paying .20/gal. for gasoline, .75/gal for milk and thinking that was expensive. I was making 30/day though so maybe it was. Things were different then. The only bottled water bought was being stored in "bomb shelters". I still can't bring myself to pay for a bottle of water at .75-$1.00 per pint while in the USA when they give it away right down the aisle at the water fountain, it’s even refrigerated. Beer’s cheaper and tastes better; the famous philosopher W.C. Fields once said, “I never drink water, it’s nasty, fish f#*k in it.”

in 1982 when I first started sailing my first mate’s job was for $105/day but I did not feel I was overpaid. The next job was for around $185 and I dumbfounded at my luck.

My comment about $527 being kind of low was based on what some limited tonnage engineers make in the GoM plus the nature of the vessels these crews sail. Frankly, I always believed tanker (even ATB’s are tankers) crews deserve to get some of the highest pay out there. They earn it!

anyway, makes me feel fortunate having my position in the Gulf…now if the price of oil could come up a bit

May be I can qualify for food stamps…anyway, I started for $23 @ day in Dec 1969. The owner of the company also owned shrimpboats and a beer distributership. I didn’t think it could get any better…

There is Never enough money. I spent a good part of my first 15 years in various oilfields around the world working long hitches. Been screwed in pay a couple of times. Looks like another cycle with 30% cuts…June 1 ain’t coming fast enough!

MONEY IS NOT EVERYTHING…As I was in meditation today(cleaning the feminine hygiene products out of the Red Fox unit), I realized it’s not the money that’s
kept me here, It’s the PRESTIGE of the job. NOW…something else to contemplate. We have never a woman on either crew. Hmmm…

Oh my. Does anyone one in the crew cry for no apparent reason?