It is ridiculous for any licensed master in the icww or GOM to be running for less than $900.00 daily. Entry deckhand should be 250.00 Daily. The risks we are asked to accept with oversized tows and low HP vessels. Demands COMPENSATION that is appropriate. Many boat companies are trying to scrap jones so get it while you can


Thank you for starting a new WAGES thread. This is a topic of great importance to mariners and worthy of robust, detailed discussion.

Mariner’s wages have been stagnant for a longtime. In some cases, they have even gone down. The cost of license maintenance has gone up. The risks of personal civil and criminal liability have gone up. In most desirable areas the cost of living has gone up. Wages need to go up.

In most trades, the great surplus of mariners with complete up to date credentials has been worked off.

Employers are having difficulty finding Mariners with the right skill set for their operations. It can be difficult to get a relief.

There is a shortage of mariners who are willing to work long hitches.

There are shoreside jobs (home most nights) that have total compensation comparable to going to sea for long hitches.

The Master or Mate of Towing license scheme makes it possible to convert deep sea or oil patch mariners into instant tugboat officers, but they have no tugboat skills. The apprentice mate route makes it impossible to train new mates quick enough to meet the demand.

Employers are having a difficult time finding skilled people with the right licenses. It can be difficult to get a relief.

When the USCG starts hair follicle drug testing, a lot of people are going to fail.

Tugboat wages need to go way up to reach a fair level.


I’m not that familiar with the tug business in the US. Are tug boat companies unionized? What kind of tugs are we talking about? Inland, harbor assist, towing? Some I know are unionized but I have no idea how the total compensation compares to union and non-union.

Most tugs are non-union. In some places union wages are higher, and in other places they are lower. Often the wages are about the same, but non-union benefits are usually less. A lot of small non-union companies have no benefits at all.

Generally, I find that seagoing benefits are much lower quality and quantity compared to shoreside jobs.

One thing that irks me is the many companies that have good benefits for shoreside staff, but not their mariners.


One thing that really gets me, on a lot of government funded projects that are required to pay “prevailing wages”, everyone gets them except the tugboat crews. Construction laborers with no licenses or experience often make more per day than a tugboat Captain.

Mariners systematically get shortchanged compared to shoreside workers.

1 Like

That’s because they can find mariners to work for no benefits. It’s the free market at work. For all the faults they have unions do do place a big emphasis on benefits and pension. At least the legitimate unions do. However, it would be VERY hard to organize a union now and has been hard for many years. There are no labor protections left and the NLRB is a joke.

1 Like

But with all benefits included in the tax?

What about pension? How much do you contribute to that?

1 Like

I am committing my efforts to start the effort.
I am going to refuse any MOT offer of less than 800 daily.
Let the struggle begin.


Good luck to you. I don’t like working for under $870 but do when I have to. For me, at 190 days a year, that comes to about $165k a year before taxes, 401K & other.

Here’s the thing though. I started in the maritime industry in the pushboat industry in the mid nineties & many folks working the line boats were from Kentucky, Arkansas & Tennessee. Right now the median income for Kentucky is a little over $40k. Later I moved into the oil patch & many of those folks were from Mississippi where the median income is currently a little under $40k. $165k a year is a lot of money in some places for 6 months of work especially when the spouse pulls in another $30k-$50k. Those are doctors wages in some humble states where many mariners call home. Again, good luck to you & I know these jobs are worth every one of those 800 dollars but there’s plenty of other credentialed mariners who will to do it for less so have a plan B incase employers are willing to hold out longer than you in your struggle.

Can you live in London on £51k? East end studio apartment? No car?

My ABs make $70,000 a year.

1 Like

You can’t really live in NYC for $70,000 soooo…

Also are the AB’s on your vessel also tankerman? Are they working even time?

You dudes really need to unionize.


No Tankerman endorsements. No oil. No schedule. Very long hitches. Collect unemployment all winter.

I get the same day rate as the union guys. It’s at least $200 a day short of what it should be. The bad negotiators at the union are in effect holding my wages down.

My employer says “what do you expect, we are already paying top wages, same as the union companies that we have to bid against for tows.”

The union officials are either bad negotiators, or in cahoots with the employers, and holding wages down.


If unions hold down wages than increased union density would be linked to decreases in wages.

That should be easy to check. There has been numerous studies on this, many available on the internet.


You have to remember to count pension and benefit contribution towards total compensation.

I don’t know the finer details of the UK pension scheme for seafarer, but since no Brits reply, here is what a little Google search throw up:
Pensions for seafarers in the UK are two fold;:
A Government pension that every British citizen is entitled to:

And pension through Union membership:
Retirement planning - Nautilus International.

And/or Company pension schemes set up by individual employers.

For details you better wait for somebody that know more to post here.

Meanwhile, here is answer to some FAQ:

In the US when unions contract with an employer they negotiate for pension contributions to be paid into the union pension fund. This is paid by the employer. They don’t like it for obvious reason but its part of the deal. Also, benefits such as health insurance are negotiated. Since the USA has no national health insurance plan the only way most people can insure their health is thru an employer or union plan. These plans are increasingly expensive as the US has one of the most expensive health care systems in the world [without corresponding better outcomes.] All this must be computed in the actual compensation. Therefore one cannot look at wages in the US and compare to other countries. The pay in the USA before taxes does not correlate to other countries which have national pensions schemes, government mandated company pensions and health care provided by way of the taxes paid from income. A mariner from another first world country outside the USA could make half the salary of a US mariner yet their total lifetime benefit be much higher. In actual practice many mariners outside the USA make higher wages than US mariners.


Yes, about double the cost per capita to other OECD countries:

But not ranked #1 in the world for quality of healthcare:

Or in longevity (#47):