Where to hire foreign crew directly? Cutting out the crewing agencies

Morning Gents,

My company does commercial vessel deliveries. Most everything we have done previously has been US Flagged so we have been able to use my network in the US to always hire my crew directly.
Now we are being contracted for a very long distance delivery of a Panama Flagged tug. Asia to the Caribbean.

I could take the easy road and just hire one of the many crewing agencies to give me a full crew, but I would prefer to hire everyone directly. This was I can build a better relationship with them, I have full control over making sure they get paid on time, and I can pay them a better rate than if a manning agency took a cut.

I have a few connections with the Panama Maritime Administration, some Guyanese, some Honduran and some Dominican. Likely I can fill a crew through these avenues.

But I was wondering if anyone has had to hire a foreign crew before and come across any online job boards or such? Also hard to know what correct wages are… I get quotes from manning agencies but they refuse to break it down on a “per man” basis. I want to pay slightly above market rate; but obviously cannot go too high.

It is a lot more work on my part to hire direct, but I would prefer to have the close connection with the crew. We will likely be getting more and more foreign flag contracts this year, so it will be worth it to put the time in and start building that network.


Scandinavian company I worked for maintained crewing companies and schools in India, marine engineers, Philippines Deck crew/ officers and Panama, hotel staff cruise ships. Enough ships our own and outside owned under management we had reliable work, competitive pay relative to their country’s norm & were well treated, many had long relationships with the company.

Key is regular work, it draws reliable seaman. Start up few ships likely hard to attract good sailors. It would be better to build a base of business using crewing companies. Enough vessels under management it may be worth establishing a dedicated crewing company in one country. Hiring is competitive though and when operating in many countries there are regulations very different than US. Business relationships here can be canceled easily, not so in many places.

Yeah for this particular contract the majority of the crew (and certainly the officers) will all have a full time position available to them once the delivery is done as the boat will need crew in the Caribbean.

Would be great to have a dedicated pipeline. Have had such mixed experiences with foreign crews, really want to be able to offer top dollar and get the best of the best.

Thanks for the reply.

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I’ve set up operations in small countries several times. All were I don’t speak the language or know local customs. English is universal but the small nuances are always all local. Key was to find one experienced local mariner that knew the local situation. My end was knowing the companies requirements. Vessels cargo flows etc.

It worked well, years later most have grown and operate well. Several closed down were business conditions changed. Able to exit without extensive liability.


I spent some time in Guyana trying to set up an operation for a company and found the same thing… it was slow going until you met the one right person that had all the connections in the industry. And that wasn’t always a Captain or Chief, in my case it was an oiler who jsut had a really good attitude and was well known in the community.

Always fun dropping in to a new country and learning the local ropes.

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