What's The Worst Job In The Maritime Industry?

Been around a while, most of the guys I sailed with were looking for top dollar, and comfort in their job. They didn’t always match up, but bank and bennies made a huge difference. Chose your poison. It ain’t easy without a crystal ball that actually works. Hats off to the mariners that got a little something, something. My worst job? Handling the yard tug with a bucket and a toilet seat for a head.

I can make that in a few months without even breathing hard. A year? Dear God

Worst job? I guess it was when I was in the Navy in the early 80’s on a sub tender in Kings Bay Ga. The base was new. The tender was in poor repair and A/C was nonexistent for most of my time there. My rack was right below a steam pipe. I was in a constant state of heat exhaustion in the days where nobody gave a shit about sleep deprivation or heat exhaustion. My laundry would become moldy as it hung in my net bag. I didn’t even have a rack curtain. Women were not yet a welcome addition to ships, and there was no hurry to make us feel like we belonged. My car was vandalized in the parking lot on more than one occasion. The men were told that we were taking away their coveted shore billets, so they hated us.

I was assigned to planning and estimating, so I wrote repair work packages on an electric typewriter. The air was so hot and humid in the office that the paper literally wilted while I was typing on it. Office was right above the fire room.

Gnats were a big thing there. The base was built essentially on a wetland. Guess what else was big. Weed and quaaludes. I remember a CPO was busted for being a big time lude dealer. What memories.

The Bosun’s Mates would fly a red bandana on the handrail on the days that drug seaches were done, so as you approached from the parking lot, you could dump whatever you were holding.

This was pre-piss tests.


The one where I was an AB in open berthing. Zero privacy. I felt like I was in a prison movie.

I don’t know what the worst job in the maritime industry is but as long as the pay is half decent & it’s even time off I would still prefer to do it compared to working on land 50-51 weeks a year, trudging along waiting for the next 3 day weekend constantly fighting traffic every day. I guess I’ve had a charmed maritime career because no matter how hard or bad of an experience I had I never thought it the worst or unbearable.


Security mate, Alaska Marine Highway System.

getting off a 9 year old rig as it goes to the breakers with no job or prospect of one and the company in Chapter 11
Lots in that boat

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I think I heard about Maritrans buying one of the barges, but I can’t recall which one. I do know that the tug was not purchased by Maritrans. Some idiots were using it as a hawser boat. She ultimately did sink at sea. I seem to recall that her tow washed up on some remote island in the Atlantic. I will have to dig, but here is the timeline for the tug. http://www.tugboatinformation.com/tug.cfm?id=9978

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Nope, she lost the rig in 2006, but sank in 2009. https://www.i-law.com/ilaw/doc/view.htm?id=228368

I enjoyed practicing my craft on every vessel I worked on, some I had to “practice” more than I wished but such is life. The jobs I found most distasteful were in all cases due to the onboard managment and in some cases due to the shoreside management. A brief stint as an augmenting engineer on a NOAA vessel many years ago caused me to have a low opinion of NOAA ‘officers’. They comprise only the bridge personnel as all deck and engineering responsibilities went to properly licensed wage marine employees. The NOAA officers had no license and in my experience didn’t want to be at sea or know a lot about it. They considered the wage mariner to be a lower form of life. There were some exceptions among NOAA officers but at the time that was my experience. The only other really unpleasant job I had was in the Gulf of Mexico working with some real egos with little ability to justify the ego. That also didn’t last long.
It’s amazing what we put up with when the industry takes a dive. Having a sense of humor and being capable of leaving the next time the gangway went down helped.


The rig they bought was not allowed to go coastal after all the problems this whole episode of Belcher stuff resulted in., therefore lightering was their best option and that was the goal of purchasing it.Interesting the history you provided shows that the companies that purchased the remaining tug did not keep it long. A piece of royal shit, and sadly.good riddance. Although many have put in great options I nominate for worst jobs Catherder, cmakin, and HR guy at Bouchard…


Sand Pebble, you are wise beyond your years. I couldn’t imagine fighting traffic every morning to a job I didn’t enjoy. Even the worst job was better than a 9 to 5.The job that I had to shit in a bucket had a great upside, I was a green mate and getting boathandling skills. The downside, it was a day boat and had to fight traffic to and from the yard. I did that on my time off from my “Real” job with equal time.

Crowley Western Alaska. Deckhand, tankerman or 2nd Mate.
Not only are the work rest hours you’re subjected to terrible, but if you’re generally a clean person who showers more than once every 5-7 days and don’t hunt or fish you’ll probably not have anything in common with anyone.
Really a special breed of Mariner out there.


If Alaska is the only place you’ve worked at least you have been exposed to hunters and fishermen. It was not unusual the hunters and fishermen had an alarming rate of sickness and ailments between October and January in the lower 48. I have duck hunted but once and had a great time, it was with a sick and ailed crewmember. They like their shit. It is hard on HR, but once I experienced what they would miss, was fine with it. HR had to get off their ass for a bit. Agree, a special breed, but my guys took showers on a regular basis. Damn good shipmates that worked in all the employment areas you described… Was glad to be invited to the"Hunt". I had a fucking blast.

Ah, yes! Was on the other coast when dumped by the Navy for being a loud Mustang in '77 but the lack of leadership and severe butt-kissing by commissioned officers was ramping full swing. Drug problems were rampant before we started extraction from Vietnam surely bound for worse confirmed by your post. Most amusing was after Navy bilged 3000 Mustangs in '77 were whining in early '78 that the “middle management” had not enough bodies in it! Har, har!

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yea, but they don’t get to go boating!!

catherder had the write up i anticipated, animal transport would be bad but being a rancher it’s something you get use to but catherder’s experience … !!, catherder probably puts a sweater on when it gets below 75F now !

I have found myself undermanned due to illness during “Turkey Hunting” season.

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I’d say the roughnecks out on the oil rigs. Hard on your body and rough work.

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Yeah, but not exclusive to the maritime industry. I have spent enough time on rigs of all kinds to know that these guys really earn their money.


I don’t consider being a roughneck on an oil rig a maritime job. There are roughnecks on land oil rigs. It’s hard, dirty work but it is not maritime exclusive. No ship needs a roughneck to get from point A to B on the ocean or to hold the ship in position. If they were labor on a normal ship they would be an OS or Wiper which also is hard dirty work. But the OS and wiper has maritime documents relating to the maritime industry.

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