Thoughts on the specialty trained OS's

Heads up to anyone working as a able bodied seaman. As I understand the USCG is about to decide this week on replacing AB’s with specialty trained OS’s. There is pressure from a large company on the Great Lakes for this as they claim they are short handed and can not find the right kind of workers. This is a company that burns through at least 30+ guys a year and are always hiring. To me this seems a bit concerning, like a labor dispute, or poor working conditions rather than a shortage. I wonder if any one has reached out to those that quit or were fired as to the reasons. Well anyway thought you all should know because this will set a precedence. The company pushing this labels all their unlicensed as GPM’s (General Purpose Maintenance).

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sounds like the rumor mill is running strong at whatever company that is. i cant see that happening with only one company on the lakes pushing for it. also how will that line up with jobs that require you to have the stcw able seafarer deck rating

Something similar happened in the GoM in the mid/late 90’s during another crew shortage crisis due to the oilfield being nearly wiped clean during the oil 80’s crash. Tidewater OS’s & wipers could get AB (special) & QMED (?) with just 90 days of seatime. I think the special circumstance 90 day AB/QMED cert was only good at the company that sponsored the OS. After the 90day wonder AB/QMED received enough seatime they could have the restriction removed & work anywhere.

If a COI says it calls for an AB, how easy is it to switch that to a STOS?

Would be nice to hear a local laker chime in on this. I’ve been under the impression that no stcw endorsements are required on the lakes unless they are making stops at Canadian ports

I knew of some guys with 100 ton master tickets that had a special ‘company endorsed’ license as well in the 90s.

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I was under the impression that the STOS was solely a USCG thing and has nothing to do with STCW.

Considering most unions and companies want at the very least basic training, I don’t know. I just always thought since the lakes are ‘inland’ they don’t fall under stcw unless they enter Canada.

I don’t think STCW is required even for Canadian or US ships trading between the two countries on the Great Lakes.

By a Memorandum of Understanding with Canada , STCW isn’t required for U.S. vessels in Canadian waters, if your credentials are valid for service in the U,.S. they are valid in Canada.

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On the ships I worked on, they already made that decision. In 1981. But additional clarity on what is a specially trained OS is new. That only happened with STCW95. In 2001.

STCW does not apply to Lakers.

And a STOS has nothing to do with STCW.

30 guys? That number is WAAAY low, maybe per boat.


That “large company” is Interlake Steamship, right?

The first company that came to my head was grand river navigation. They can’t keep or find anybody to work on those ships. The big resin is they don’t contribute to the MMP pension plan.

He was replying to this:

They have cut crews so low they’re working them to death. 12 hour days but with no reliable rotation like 30 on - 30 off. A hedge fund runs two lines. Entry level people were the first to suffer cuts years back. No rated sailors? Do the math. These are not shipping companies, but profit centers for MBAs. I am not kidding. I’d be on the Lakes today, but I’m not able to work 76 hours a week indefinitely.

MSRC is now doing the same specially trained OS. Have no idea what specific training this refers to because most of the AB seafarers we get are virtually useless and the current OS can’t pay attention long enough to possibly learn. In 58 weeks we’ve had 58 turnovers between AB’s and Chief’s. And that’s just one OSRV.

Maybe those ABs and OSs are working just long enough to buy a used Camry to become Uber drivers. Just took an Uber today and my driver who didn’t have a college degree asked what I did for a living and was interested in how he could do the same. I told him he could start as an OS/ AB but after I told him the daily rate he laughed. It’s hard to convince someone who made 6 figures from Uber last year that working in the maritime industry in worth it!


How many Uber drivers make $100,000+ a year? Everything I read, and the podcasts I hear, say the average driver makes about $41k a year, if that, without benefits.