What is a paper captain?


I’ve heard of it happening but If faked self recorded sea time for small licenses is an epidemic, it’s on the CG to cure it.

Maybe you’re hanging around with the wrong crowd.


Yes it undeniably is.

Maybe I live in the wrong part of the US. There was actually a topic about this on here a while ago. Most people agreed the general public had no clue and they were ok with it.


Based on televised “man on the street” interviews, the general public has no clue about a lot of things. The extent of a lot of peoples’ interest revolves around their favorite celebrities’ latest antics and can’t name the president of their own country or the capital of their own state.


Shouldn’t be that way.
For the life of me I can’t understand how someone is raised and lived in a coastal community for their whole life, then looks at a vessel offshore and asks “what is that”


It’s because although we have a strong Navy presence worldwide, as it’s been said here before, we ceased being a maritime nation after WWII.

PS - As a kid I would skip school to go hang out on the docks so I’ll never relate to kids staying indoors staring at their iPhones.


Paper captains remain a huge and outrageous problem in the Western Pacific tuna fleet which mostly use bandit Tawainese fishing masters. It’s a real stain on the US flag and the rule of law in what is supposed to be a Western democracy.

There are a few stray paper captains left in Alaska and elsewhere, but mostly it’s where the owner/operator does not have a license yet for a new larger boat. No more Japanese fishing masters. I only know of one Norwegian (real Norwegian, not Norwegian-American) fishing Master. There may be a couple more.

On many vessels the “paper captain” is in command and generally manages the vessel, but lacks fishing skills and just relies on the fishing master to find and catch the fish.

On some vessels the paper captain is just there for his license (often totally incompetent) and only expected to keep out of the way, take the money, and keep his mouth shut. I think this is now very uncommon, except in the tuna fleet.


Quote thing won’t work, but try taking a dive boat out and killing a passenger one way or the other. The USCG will damn sure treat you like a captain then. Anyone taking any passengers anyplace is responsible for their lives.
What would you suggest to replace the 10o ton? Maybe “guy in charge of boat” LOL


No. They will treat you like the pathetic moron you are.

And the word is operator.


“Oh, you work on those ships” Where are you stationed?" “What do you guys do at night?” I have found, in general, most “ordinary” folks have no clue. On a side not, and getting a bit away from the post, at the tap room of my local brewery, myself and another patron are both former sailing engineers (he was on the Savannah for some time) and Energy/marine surveyors, although he is retired. We will get into our discussions. Another patron, listening in to the conversation stated, “I always wanted to do something like that, but I grew up in Illinois.” Sigh. . . .

Hawspiper opportunities? (education, certs, shoreside)

Ordinary Americans, especially the youngsters, have no clue about anything that is not directly related to their daily lives and hobbies, but they know all about safe spaces, triggering, pop music, movies and the Kardashians.

Americans drive pick up trucks but they don’t know how to use a hammer or a saw, tie down a few pieces of lumber or change a tire.

Most Americans only have about a third grade understanding of the government and economy. The average Canadian, or Northern European understands US government and history much better than most Americans.


I took a brief survey of some friends and the non-nautical ones don’t know or care about the difference between a freighter captain and the pump-out boat guy. If they meet someone that calls themselves “captain” they assume the guy is in the Army or something.
The nautically inclined VERY MUCH know the water taxi captain, the fishing guide 6 pack guy, and the master of the big tanker anchored off the beach all have very different jobs and ratings. Rest easy big ship captains, the rockfishing charter boat guy with Captain Bill on his pickup truck is not fooling anyone who cares :wink:


In the UK it was once suggested that if you had served in command on vessels over 3000gt you could use the title of Captain. Honestly I think a lot of it is just ego’s and using the title outside of a professional setting is just pretentious.
That said, as a Marine Pilot I now get to experience the competence of a multitude of Captains on ships from 500gt to 200,000gt and often wonder whether some of them actually have a license, the fact they found our port amazes me to be honest. But they seem okay at replying to e-mails.


A paper Capt? That’s the Capt who’s career has only been on ROS or MPS ships ( at anchor or at the dock). When these guys get to sea they are lost. Did a transit on a MPS vessel through the Straits of Mallaca and the Chief Mate was close to a panic attack. Another time, again through SOM the Capt would not come to the bridge Tthe 2nd mate was calling the Master a number of times and he would not leave his stateroom. These are U.S. registered ships.


Does the President of your local neighborhood book club somehow denigrate the prestige of the President of the United States? Plenty of people running around Fort Schuyler being called “Captain”… From everyone holding a Masters License of varying tonnage to at least two retired Navy Captains to a retired USMC Captain to a retired Police Captain to the Captain of the Empire State to the Captain of the Sailing or Rowing Teams. Practically everyone on campus goes by a title, whether it be Captain, Cadet, Professor, Mate, Chief, Dean, Nurse, Admiral, General, Sergeant, Officer, Doctor, Esquire, Coach, Commander, Lt. Commander, Lieutenant, Midshipman… If you introduce yourself as Mr. or Mrs. everyone knows you’re the person who sweeps the floors.


In the 1970’s my Father-in-law used to pilot APL ships in the Malacca Strait. Usually from Singapore to Port Klang and Penang and back, but his company offered pilotage from Horsburgh to One Fathom Bank for ships passing the Straits.

PS> He also looked after two APL ships laid up at Tuas in Singapore in the late 1970’s. (I can’t remember the names)


In my day, that person was named ‘Fast Eddie’, and with the three teeth left in his mouth and thick Bronx accent, he could have been calling himself admiral but you wouldn’t have understood it.


Kind of like when they give an endorsed mariner a fictitious title like “Barge Captain!” Thankfully most companies are going to licensed officers as cargo mates, and tankermen getting rated as pumpmen. Only fitting for their skill and lack of a license.


Senior Navigation Lock Operators in the New Orleans area are often referred to as Captain.
For many years only applicants with a Masters license got the job .
99% of the time it was guys from ocean going tugs.
I sailed with NMU from age 16 in 1964 until age 45.(A.B. at age 20).
Now I,ve been a lock operator for over 20 years. If the Tows transiting the lock want to call me
Captain, I,ll go along with it.




Because the person in charge of a navigation lock is referred to as “Lock Master”.The boat captains ain,t sure if the lockmaster is working the wall so they automatically called the lock person on the VHF radio Captain.
BTW= The fireman in charge of the firehouse is usually called the Captain. lol