Shortage of seafarers

There’s another way to increase seafarer numbers: lobby for reduced training and certification requirements; lobby for less regulation of new or unproven technology; hire evermore desperate and unqualified seafarers; degrade pay rates and living conditions aboard and increase tour lengths while strengthening the rules imprisoning seafarers on their ships; pump out more propaganda about higher wages, shorter tours and better living conditions.


This is about the world fleet and worldwide availability of seafarers of all ranks, but especially ratings.
It has nothing to do with US flag ships, or US seafarers, since they are not competing in the world market.

PS> I noticed that nothing was said about the lack of shore leave in most ports, which may be a major disincentive to seek work at sea.
At present this may be due to Covid-19 restrictions (that will hopefully disappear soon) but also short stay in ports.
Scare of anything foreign is also a problem in some countries.


It’s there:

That talk of better pay and more time off in the future is like a sign at a bar that says, “Free beer… tomorrow.”

I feel the industry is trying to move towards the McDonald’s principal: minimally trained, short term employees following simple checklists/SMS. McDonald’s is a huge company spanning the globe yet most employees have only basic training in simple tasks who don’t stick around for long. Only a few are long term and those are management. McDonald’s does have attractive propaganda/recruitment to keep the revolving door of employees turning. It’s called ‘news’ or ‘reports’ about how good a mariner’s pay and time off will be… tomorrow.


Well said ombugge!

I read the article and did not see where it focuses especially on ratings. The whole article was about the worldwide outlook for officers. Did you actually read it or are you too busy cutting and pasting to get your daily quota of posts in?

Oops. As an American was I not supposed to comment on this thread? I’ll make a deal with you, bug. You need to first stop interjecting in all threads focused on USMM.

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That may be… or it may not. I’m not debating that point at all. Just merely pointing out that is NOT at all what the article you posted says. But you post so many damn articles, I can see why you can’t keep track of them.

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Covid has taught employers a very lucrative lesson: what they can get away with before the mariner breaks. This pandemic was the ultimate crucible. I don’t see things getting better. Nations around the world are struggling. Nobody is going to raise wages or improve conditions when there are millions who will put up with anything just to send money home to their families.


That was a quote from the article I posted.

If you can’t keep track then don’t read the articles I post.
PS>Doesn’t look like you do anyhow (??)

Ship Owners / Managers and their organizations have put pressure on governments to allow crew change It has helped in some cases, but the scare of new mutations is causing new restrictions in many ports.

It is the Charterers that has put in “No Crew change” clauses in the Charter Parties to avoid delays and extra costs.

Some Owners/Managers have even increased wages, improved access to free wifi and increased the food budget to keep the best and most qualified officers and crews when the pandemic is over (That is in the article at top of this thread)

Foreign going U.S. flag ships are in fact competing for cargo in the same world market as foreign flag ships. Sailing C/M or master on a U.S. flag cargo ship this fact is readily apparent.

This is the last line in the article.

The impact of these developments is rising wage inflation which will add to pressure on already rising vessel operating costs.

Sounds like foreign flag vessels may face rising operating cost that U.S. flag ships will not. That would make U.S. ships relatively more profitable.

The term “wage inflation” amuses me when used by some ship owners. Inflation is the bad word. Why can’t they just say, "we may have to pay mariners more because due to travel restrictions the conditions they currently work in are horrid. We cannot find and vet enough trained poor people to man our ships at the current wages we pay. Wages have been stagnant for the last few years and we benefited from that but it looks like we may finally have to raise wages to remain in operation. We may also have to feed them better food and allow them to access the internet. This may adversely affect our profit by one or two percent. We can offset some of that by reducing some shipboard staff and reducing the amount we pay for travel.


Jones Act ships are are also in competition with foreign flag vessels in a way that ia analogous to how rail competes with trucks.

If shipping rates for trucks were to increase than the higher cost would be reflected in rates depending upon if the routes that various shippers used were all rail, all highway or some combination of rail and highway.

Likewise the shippers for some goods have a choice in routes with various combination of all JA, all foreign or some combination of the two.

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Shortage of seafarers?

How about rephrasing that as a shortage of people willing to labor under the conditions which are closer to internment camp life than the romanticized life of the seafarer 50 years ago.

When boxboat turnarounds became too short to buy a postcard and oil terminals became more like TSA anal probe sites the the bloom faded very quickly.


The article I linked to was not written by some ship owner, or any of their organizations. it appeared in several maritime publications and was sourced from Drewry:

I doubt it will get more Shipowners to put their ships under US flag, unless there are more incentive in the form of subsidies and preferential cargo on offer.
That goes for US and international Owners.

If there is less wage gap than the subsidies could be made smaller. In principle more slots could be made available with the same budget or an increased budget could be used to increase the number of slots.

The article mentions that a Filipino 2nd Mate gets 3 times the average salary of someone working ashore in the Philippines, but doesn’t mention that most of them don’t get paid when they are at home.

Many Filipinos seafarers I’ve spoken to don’t actually plan on staying working at sea for that long as they don’t like the way they are treated and are that they are relatively underpaid.

Lots of them only only want to work at sea for around 15 years, until they have saved enough money to start businesses back in the Philippines which provide them with the income so that they don’t have to go to sea, they can spend all their time with their families.

Some guys owed things like farms, several small shops or a fleet of taxis that they were building up until it provided them enough income to provide for their families then they would stop going to sea.

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The average salary in the Philippines is a little over $3000USD/yr. So that’s $9000/yr. I suppose the Filipino should be grateful, I know ship owners are. The Filipino seafarer has to pay a significant portion of his pay to the agent the foreign ship owner uses to supply workers. The idea of the lowest common denominator determining wages is not one I can imagine most working people would support.

A couple of years old: