Striking while the topic is hot...foreign mariners in the GoM


In another recent thread concerning the contentious issues between limited and unlimited tonnage licensed US mariners, there was no contention or disagreement with the issue of the invasion of foreign vessels into the Gulf of Mexico offshore industry and how it was resulting in an erosion of the established Federal Regulation reserving employment on vessels working on the OCS for American mariners. This is a situation which adversely effects every one of us who works in the offshore energy industry and by extension, all US mariners. Everyone of us should have great concern as to the ramifications of what is a now accelerating trend. Many hundreds of very good shipboard jobs are being lost to foreign nationals in a time when every possible American job should be preserved.

A new Congress will soon be sworn in and regardless of a person’s politics, that new Congress will give all of us the opportunity to bring this situation to the light of our lawmakers. We do not need new law passed but rather need to demand that the laws as they exist today be enforced by the new Administration. Like with a new Congress, the new Administration about to take over in Washington might well be more ready to adopt a new policy concerning the granting of waivers which allow vessels of foreign flag to operate in the GoM with all foreign crews and the ready issuance of OCS-B1 visas to foreign seamen and officers.

I want to take this opportunity to introduce a new blog I have started at
which I hope to use to bring this unfortunate situation to the awareness of each American professional mariner and further hope that somehow all of us can join together as a united voice to lobby the new Congress and Administration to demand that the jobs which are by right American jobs be filled by Americans who work in an industry critical to our Nation’s economy and security, who support American families and pay taxes to our American government.

I hope you will go to my blog and also comment here on how we go about stopping the hemorrhaging of jobs in our offshore industry.

Thank you for caring and adding your voice.


I’m in agreement on this subject. I suppose before I go dashing off to read the blog that it is fair to ask, who are you? Please take the opportunity to introduce yourself.


I copied and pasted and no go!! Still trying…


I’m sure that all are in agreement, but Captain Oxymoron in the other thread will be crying that the Lafourche Mafia is building foreign vessels in Tampa Bay next.


Hey, fuggeddaboudit…


I’ve already said a bit about myself in other posts. I’m 50, a school guy, unlimited license and broad industry experience including lots of other types of workboats like tugs. Since early 2006, I’ve been working in the Gulf and I intend to stay here because I like the scale of the projects I am a part of and feel the new breed of DP subsea vessels kick some serious butt! I have done the drilling thing but don’t like being stuck in one spot of water for months and months at a time and even thought they may be drillships, they are still rigs. I like a vessel I can actually drive more than once or twice a year. Need to know more?

Why is this important to me? I feel that the Norwegians are invading our turf with their superships and looking at us Americans in a very negative light. Yes, I am envious of them for their vessels but I also believe that if those owners want access to do business in our waters then they should obey the laws and hire US mariners to man those ships except for perhaps the master and chief engineer. This is exactly how the Brazilians do it when a foreign subsea vessel gets a contract there. There is no reason that the same cannot happen here. Besides, they would save money hiring Americans…with the exchange rates being what they are, a US mariner would get paid less than a Norwegian for the same position but that is not why I feel we should have those jobs. We should have them because the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act states that they are reserved for US citizens and unless we fight it, we will end up loosing that right.

Regarding the address to the blog, I copied and pasted it and it worked. Tomorrow, I will try to make it into a link you can just click.


Regarding the address to the blog, I copied and pasted it and it worked. Tomorrow, I will try to make it into a link you can just click.
I got it.

I’m just a wee bit slow.


Ugh, more foreigners in the bayou. And just when I started to get use to the bayou dialect. I agree, we as professional mariners really need to rally and stop this ASAP.


I am presently employed aboard an American owned foreign flagged vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. This morning I noticed a posted letter from the USCG replying to the companies request to man the vessel with foreigners. They insist they can not find anyone to go to work for them. I find that hard to believe since there are almost all Americans on board at the moment and have been since July. They want to crew this vessel from the bottom up with foreigners! I can possibly give them the master/chief engineer but galley hands??? I can tell them for a fact the reason that they are having trouble recruiting people is: PAY!!! They want to pay their DPOs and other officers less than ABs are making at other companies. They would have no problem finding Americans to go to work for them if they would pay the going rate. They are in fact having no problems whatsoever crewing the ship at the moment using an agency which is paying over the going rate and also travel which is another important issue. I don’t think most unlimited licensed officers really want to move to South LA just to have a job. I plan to write a letter to the same Coast Guard officer the company is dealing with protesting this issue. I want to make it very clear to the Coast Guard that this company does not need to hire foreigners to crew their vessels. If the Coast Guard hears from enough of us, maybe they will not allow at least this company to man their ships foreign.


If this issue is truly important to you, then carefully consider who you vote for! Watch and see which party sides with business and which party sides with workers…


This is exactly the situation I have been speaking so loudly about. These vessel owners are presenting the USCG with letters stating that they cannot find personnel and that they have tried…BUT IN REALITY IS THAT THEY HAVEN’T AND DON’T WANT TO! You are absolutely right when you say that it is all about money and that these companies don’t want US mariners because they are afraid of a seaman’s Jones Act rights. It has nothing at all to do with availability and what you need to do is write to the two Congressional Committees I have listed with your complaint demanding an investigation and possibly holding hearings.

The House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation at:

2165 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 226-3587

The Senate Surface Transportation & Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, & Security Subcommittee

508 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510-6125
(202) 224-9000

You can also write to the USCG directly but I do not yet have the specific address and office to direct letters regarding this matter.

Lastly, I am posting more information on this subject at: []


It always comes down to money. It always has. Did companies go to the Philippines and India to recruit the highest trained officers and crew? No. They can get well-qualified people there, yes, but foremost those same people cost less than Europeans and Americans. With IMO and the STCW code, this issue has become less of one in that we are all, supposedly, one “equal” group. I guarantee every shipping company in the USA has protested, whether oral or written, to the USCG demanding the allowance of foreign mariners. I hate to say it, but I don’t think the Jones Act will make it for the course of my lifetime. As far as who you vote for, it’s a horse-a-piece. One may eliminate the Jones Act upfront, the other may sign on with the IMO, who wants it gone due to fair-trade/protectionism violations. The best a USA mariner can hope for is this worldwide shortage of mariners pans out and more options overseas are given. It will mean a pay cut. The upside is you can move overseas where it is cheaper… The only proper “solution” is to attempt to implement USA mariners into the worldwide pool, at lower/reasonable wages, but to offer tax incentives for this. No income tax is the best, but we all know that the USA government will never go for this, so we’re back at square one. Not the best answer or solution, but one way or another, eventually, the Jones Act and all it’s benefits for us USA mariners will be gone. Very unfortunate, and probably not for at least a while longer, but it will be gone. More unfortunately, it will be gone due to outside and foreign pressure. Remember, our new course in politics to the appease the world and make them like us again. Right.

As for the aforementioned comments of reserving certain positions for foreign mariners, but requiring USA mariners in the remainder, think about this. Is it fair to say “some is OK, but not all”? It’s all or none here guys. Ask for more than you want and be satisfied when you get less. Ask for not enough and that bar slides lower still.


You mentioned earlier that your vessel currently had US mariners provided by an agency but that the owner’s wants to put foreign national mariners on the ship because there are no Americans available!?!

Am I missing something here?

btw, the address at the USCG to file complaints with is:

Foreign & Offshore Vessel Division (CG-3PCV-2)
2100 Second St SW
Washington D.C., 20593
(202) 372-1241


Most developed nations have cabotage laws like the Jones Act and they protect them zealously. If the US mariner along with the unions do not fight for the enforcement of the law greed will take over and the US companies signing contracts with foreign flag vessels will be the only winners. The so called mariner/shipyard labor shortage is in large part a smoke screen for the legalization of cheap labor. There have always been temporary labor fluctuations, it’s supply and demand. When the supply is low [think oil] prices go up. As the price of oil/labor goes up it encourages the developement of more oil/skilled labor. Look how many new people have gotten into the offshore industry lately, not to mention the ones who have upgraded. Even now the labor supply is catching up with the demand. They never come right out and say “We can’t find qualified people for what we want to pay.” BUT, the companies doing these shenanigins are organized and politically connected while the GOM mariners are not ,thus it’s going to be a battle to stop this. Publication of these exemption requests in the newspaper along with letters to congress may help. As soon as I find out who my congressman is I’ll write a letter and send a bribe, ie; mail a campaign contribution to his reelection campaign.


I have a question about the two addresses listed that you are asking us to send a letter to. I will write anyone that you think needs to be written but, what am I supposed to say in the letter? I not trying to play the Devil’s Advocate, but for me to be taken seriously what should I write? I don’t think me writing that there are “some” companies that have “some” foriegners sailing on “some” ships would get much of a response. Just a thought, there are some in this forum that are more educated to the problem of the Non-US mariner issues. If someone were to make a form letter that we could just add our personal information to and then forward it to the appropriate persons, I think you would have more participants and the message would be more clear. Many lobbyists do the form letter and with good results. Just an idea…


I concur with Cheng. We need facts. What company contracted for the vessel, when did this happen, how many mariners affected, the name of the vessel, area of operation etc?. What proof is there this is going on ? The more facts the better.


I have e-mail addresses for all the vessels for the past two companys that I worked for. You are atlking several hundred mariners. EVERYONE is affected. If we are going to make a statement, a several hundred letters to the right people with a common message will show solidarity.


This is a very serious issue…I’ve been going through the same thing in the trucking business and this is the main reason that I am getting out of it… If a person wants to see the progression of this take a look at the trucks from British Columbia that are all over the west coast. of the U.S…They are not Canadian drivers…Not native born anyway…They used to be but not anymore…The Canadian drivers couldn’t work for what the Russian and Indian immigrants could… .The same thing is going on along the southern border states…These guys have cut our rates to the bone…
Now in the name of free trade and the proposal of the Nafta super highway it’s only a matter of time before foreign labor will be doing all of our trucking in this country…
In trucking we also have the same CFR that states a driver must speak and read English fluently …This is being overlooked and ignored by law enforcement out of fear of lawsuits…The results are disasterous…
We need to stop this now…I think it’s too late for the trucking industry , hopefully not for mariners…


I’ve started to put up a list of all the foreign manned vessels that I know of in the Gulf and a list of the regulations being violated. Check it out at American Professional Mariners

I think that you can use info from both in any letters you write.

Thanks for your interest and support


Island Offshore company, under contract to Oceaneering, is one of the foreign owners mentioned and is actually owned by Ulstein [Norway] and Chouest.