Starting your own Maritime Business?

Well I am at a Academy right now graduating in two years, I am a bit of an entrepreneur and we have a commitment to fill after graduation and I am just playing around with ideas on how to fulfill that commitment. Brokerage is not an option, basically go to sea or not fulfill your commitment, that’s where MARAD is right now on commitments. But I have heard you can essentially write your own ticket by starting your own business. Well I had a few thoughts like a bunkering company, running a crude/product/chemical tanker or even a small container ship doing shuttle runs. If you could start your own company, how would you and where in the US, even given today’s economy. Get a couple graduates together, purchase a ship, start with one small ship and crew it, then move on to bigger and better things once time goes on. Any thoughts? Please any and all comments welcome. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” /><o:p></o:p>
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A great idea, although not a new one and I applaud your thinking. Skipper/owners are often passionate entrepreneurs and genuine scoundrels at the same time…no different to many small business owners then!

The Greeks were the most successful at this, obviously.

So you need to get your hands on an old rustbucket, fly the Barbary flag, be creative following the rules and get some willing (which you seem to have), or naïve<style type=“text/css”>@page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } -->****** </style> crew, and off you go, on your way to becoming another great shipping magnate.

Sailing up and down the US coast could be the perfect opportunity for your entrepreneurship as the push to reduce the amount of freight on our roads gathers pace.

And there in lies the problem…a minor detail called the Jones Act.

Some would say that is not a bad thing…you would have to find a slightly (read “a lot”), more expensive vessel than you might have planned for, you will have to fly the US Flag and have US crew (which you seem to have accounted for with your mates). This might stifle most people’s enthusiasm, but I suspect with a good business plan you could probably get a lot more money this route from the government (read “taxpayer”) than the standard private investor for the first case.


You can bid on lucrative Govt. MSC Contracts before you even own a ship. Once your advantage of “Small Business” or “Minority Business” or “Female Owned” wins you the contract you’ll find it easier for the bank to loan you the funds to buy a foreign flagged wreck that you can fix-up and reflag USA to satisfy your MSC contract. It’s all been done before, if you’ld like to plagerize a businass plan check out SeaLift INC. of Oyster Bay NY and TransAtlantic Lines of Greenwich, Conn.


but luckily for you bensmiata I won’t but I wish to respond

I have heard you can essentially write your own ticket by starting your own business. Well I had a few thoughts like a bunkering company, running a crude/product/chemical tanker or even a small container ship doing shuttle runs.

All fine and good. Ships can be had for cheap (except Jones Act qualified ones), still plenty of young mariners who want to be part of something where they own a piece of the action, contracts with the government are a little more difficult to get because there is always competition from the likes of a TransAtlantic Line, SeaLift Inc or even Edison Chouest (their government division is quite large), but not impossible to get. The one big thing missing from your equasion is where are you going to get the money?

Without money and you’re going nowhere…been trying this for 20years without any money of my own and it just don’t work no matter how good and timely your idea is! If you have someone onboard with you who has the green then you are over the critical hurdle and the rest really should be quite doable.

Starting your own business, regardless of the type, can be summed up in one word: difficult!

That being said you want to start by immersing yourself in the community. Go to the Shipping 2009 conference in Stamford Ct held by CMA, join the Maritime Executive group on LinkedIn and start reading Tradewinds. But my suggestion is to start at a smaller level, at least that’s been my path. by starting this blog and forum I’ve met a wide range of people who have opened up a wide range of opportunities for me. Media in general, can be usefull… I’m sure MARAD would approve a plan that includes some reporting from aboard ship.

In any case, ships are being laid up at an astonishing rate and the primary supporter of KP’s at sea initiative, Sean Connaughton, is no longer with MARAD. Your requirements could be very different in 2 short years!

No matter what type of business you go into, be prepared to WORK YOUR ASS OFF if you want to succeed. I have had my own business and have been associated with numerous other business owners. The one common thing among all of the successful ones share is that they it is a 24/7 obsession. You never get away from it. I can say that it is immensely fulfilling to start & run your own business but be sure you go into it with your eyes open, it is a tremendous amount of work and responsibility, especially once you have employees.

Good Luck.