Tugboat Captain wages

If ever there was a time to put your foot down on wages, get them up to where they should be it’s now, everyone it seems is short handed, trip captains inland and offshore are getting $900-$1000 a day, that’s not a huge increase in a vessels day rate vs the vessel sitting at the dock unable to do a job due to a lack of crew. If there was an abundance of personnel & a major slowdown we would see cut wages. It looks like it’s past time to demand substantial pay raises
similar to large oilfield vessels. Some lowball low paying companies keep a wanted add posted
full time and yet still can’t retain or attract personnel.

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Most of the tug captain wages I’m hearing (I get calls) this year in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska are $900 to $1000, plus some extras, plus full benefits, travel, etc.

This is only a small (too small) increase over last year. Living costs have risen significantly more than wages in the past year, or two.

We should be at about $1200 this year with planned increases of at least $100 a year.

Just say no to small money. This is a good time to be job hopping for more money. If you are working for anything under $900, you are just cutting your own throat (and everyone else’s) and enabling the cheapskate low paying companies to rape us. Just say no.

Poetic justice is watching a low paying cheapskate company that cannot crew its boats be forced to hire an outside boat from a better paying competitor in order to fulfill its contract obligations to customers. That’s a thing of beauty, and exactly what they deserve.


Well said, I see companies listing adds for $715 day rate in NY, who the hell could live well on that in that region, I have even seen some poor company offering $525 a day in the Carolina’s which is an insult, I mean Damm that is sad,
If at any time licensed personnel had the company on the ropes it’s now.

I see companies advertising for crew without stating their day rates.

That means that the pay is too low. Don’t bother to call them. They are just fishing for suckers.

Think about it. Why would a company run an ad offering “top pay” with no day rates listed?

Could it be that the company knows that their day rates are too low and no one will call?

Could it be that they want to generate calls from gullible mariners to their used car salesmen, so that the salesmen can try to close them with how much the company values it’s employees (with everything but money), and how great it is to work there in spite of the “little bit” lower day rates?

Don’t be a sucker!!!


Yup, like they’re waiting on a miracle lol!

When they are really hurting they’ll increase the wages, part of the problem are the people who have no life or some financial issues so are always willing to work-over to fill in the gaps, but that won’t continue to solve the systemic issues the industry is facing.

Stop doing them favors, stop working over, and start jumping ship for better wages or benefits…only then will they start paying more to retain or attract the talent they so desperately need.

Until that time, they’ll just run short handed, keep wages just low enough that people keep coming back and continue to “Rob Peter to pay Paul”

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If you’ve never worked on a tug but you get 200grt or even 500grt, toar, and obesevation time, what could one expect as a day rate? Or will you even be hired with no tug deck experience?

How do you have a TOAR and no tugboat time?

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It would be interesting to create a guideline or what trip captain’s are shooting for in each region, ocean tow’s, dredging, anchor handling, tandem,
West Coast, East Coast, Gulf Coast, inland, heavy linehaul and coming aboard as the master and in charge of the whole operation or coming in and
doing your watches with a regular competent company employee, lots of variables including the competency of the crew and shape and seaworthiness of the vessel.

I dont have a TOAR but can get it through a school up around New York area. There are prerequisites for their program though like having OICNW

Trip work appears to be very common on the Mississippi River and ICW. I hear that guys in those regions do a lot of job hopping too. But I really do not know much about that sector.

I think trip work is rather uncommon in other regions. Most companies never hire trip captains.

Some years I don’t do any trip work, but other years, there is some. Trip work does seem to be picking up.

Some companies are short on guys with ocean licenses and STCW II/2. (I’m guessing that probably only 5% of tugboat captains have Oceans, and a similar situation for STCW II/2). But most tug companies don’t even know when Oceans and STCW are required.

Which tug companies currently properly compensate?

That question is far too vague.

People who are getting decent wages at non-union companies in the NE or PNW don’t want to trigger a flood of resumes from low paying areas (Baltimore to Pascagoula).

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That’s right, the NE area sadly has been infiltrated by southern or scab boats however you wanna view it and they want to pay a southern wage for the crew and yet get a NE wage for the vessel,
even some small & large NY based companies
are paying to low , Zdrive/ship assist at $715
Per day obviously may only attract personal
from the Ms river based companies or some Tx
Based companies, E.C has lured some away
For the LNG terminals assist tugs already. When
you consider what Nobra, Crescent or Bar pilots
Make the shipping companies are hit a good lick
just for that without assist tugs, and if guys are
Working them for less than $700 day, shame on them.

One of the good things about the West Coast is that it’s too far away for the cheapskate low wage Bayou companies to flood the market with cheap boats and desperate bayou boys everytime the oil patch has a downturn.

I’ve always thought that Seattle and NYC had pretty comparable tugboat day rates, but it looks like NY has fallen a little behind in the last few years.

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NY has a lot of non-NY companies dominating the work at discount rates and the elevated incident rate you’d expect as a result. A lot of cases of short-crewed companies from out of town hiring 3rd party tugs also from out of town to get by.

In fact, a West Coast Dredging company working in the south has helped bring up the wages here
some I think because they were paying a good bit more than local companies and were able to acquire long term employees from southern companies, who wants to do the same job for a few hundred dollars less?

Los Angeles based, and very fast growing, Curtin Maritime has advertised $900 for dredging support in Houston (those $900 jobs were advertised two years ago) and currently $900 ads for Puerto Rico.

The Houston job might be done or close to it.

They just started digging in San Juan and that job is expected to last about a year. I hear that they are trying to hire for $750 to $900 in Puerto Rico. That’s big money for Puerto Rico where wages are low. Probably, long term captains are making over $1000 by now. Those $900 to start ads must be flooding them with resumes.

I’m told that Curtin is one of the better California companies to work for.

All these companies with government infrastructure and environmental clean up contracts are making huge money. They can readily afford to pay top money for crew.

And guys that took that job when it became available I guess a few years ago are making more than that now, that was the starting pay from what I hear, equal time as well.

Not sure why any captain would work for less than $800 a day in the southern us & more anywhere else, companies are hurting bad enough to use hiring agencies in some instances and that agency charges $1200 per day, not sure what portion the temp wheelman would receive, but $1000-1200 a day should be the norm soon, a company will gladly pay $1000 a day if the only alternative is a hiring agency or tie the vessel up

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