Why does the Merchant Marine hate itself?

If there is one thing I’ve learned after 15 years of writing gCaptain it’s that the US Merchant Marine LOVES attacking US Merchant Mariners (any mariners really… we also attack foreign mariners).

I mean I get why everyone is skeptical of everything - there aren’t many professional entities that have been lied to and mistreated more - but is there anyway to fix this?

Or are we just doomed to another century of mariners jumping around and yelling every single time one of our own makes a mistake or anyone mentions the Jones Act?


I think that’s just society as a whole…they want us to hate each other…or else, we would be too powerful.


Oh course they do - if we supported each other yhey might have yo ship a lot more cargo (e.g. LNG exports) on US flagged ships which would cost China and Europe money.

But why do we play into it?


As more academy grads enter the workforce, especially oil and gas, you’ll see a more professional atmosphere on the vessels and in this forum. Old school guys like me are being phased out and I think it’s good for the industry. Their perception of us is our reality.


Please read my drunken post about us becoming a maritime nation. Nuff said.

The answer is schadenfreude…

The present energy crisis will be over sooner or later and there will be a glut of LNG and petroleum products.
Why would Europe and China pay a premium to ship LNG (or anything else) on US-flag ships then??

Great, then that’s a win for the American consumer and industry. No exports means lower gas prices at home.


Who said anything about “no export”? US export and import of LNG, Crude oil and Petroleum products were there when prices were lower and world supply plentiful.
It is likely to be there when supplies and prices return to normal.

So will shipping, i.e. both US export and import will be on foreign flag ships.
Many of them owned by US firm, and/or finance by US banks, institution, equity funds and even US pension funds.

Why would Europe and China pay a premium to ship LNG (or anything else) on US-flag ships then??

Talk about thread drift, again.

It’s incredibly naive to believe that any company would do anything other than increase their profits, minimum wage, worker safety, environmental laws, the entire pantheon of befits paid to residents in the EU, Social Security in the U.S. were all mandated by governments.

The U.S. can, and should restrict a certain percentage of imports, and exports to U.S. flag bottoms.

That will likely cause you to have a tantrum, but tough.

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Agree. Buyers of LNG (or whatever else) will look at total cost, incl. transport, That applies equally in Europe, China, or the US.

the trend is toward centralized government, period. Focus on that and international relations, workforce concerns, flag state … all is secondary.
besides, professional mariners as a whole are more apolitical that most other groups so contentions are more ‘localized’.

Lack of leadership over many years. Everyone needs to acknowledge success no matter where it happens. Also stop giving rewards to people who do not deserve it.

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Also a most excellent question ! Some union members do not acknowledge that there are other unions. Maybe there should be a group that promotes the success of individual mariners

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For the most part I don’t hate my fellow seafarers, but the companies I sail for, while I wouldn’t say I hate them, after all they employ me, but more and more the office seems to want, and strive for an adversarial relationship with vessel crews.

Every year wages go down, crews get smaller, there is less crew comfort, compare a C-10 like the President Adams to the newest ships being built, then add in more burdens from the regulatory agencies.

A lot of times I feel like I’m fighting a battle just to do my job, a job our nation depends on, and yet has no idea who we are.

Then I work to provide for my wife and child, and, to be fair I make a good salary, but I worry all the time, and I see shoresiders make comparable wages, often with stronger Unions and better benefits.

And the job has lost its appeal, its wages only, there’s no time ashore, just a 7 day a week grind for months,.

I’ve fought like hell for our industry, I have a Merchant marine flag on my porch, but honestly, if I could toss my Z-card and never walk up another gangway, that’s what I would do.


I don’t think we “hate” each other as most of us have all gone to the same schools and belong to the same unions. What we do “hate” is the fact that we are the Rodney Dangerfield of industries not getting any respect/ recognition from the society as a whole. We have multiple overlords(USCG, MARAD, USMILITARY,IMO, and the companies we all work for to name a few) all of them not giving a dam about the Mariner.
Where is our industries Super Bowl advertisement that shows Americans in particular how important our industry is.
Why don’t/can’t the corporate bean counters understand it’s not all profits , it’s national security also. The farmers get more than their fair share of support from the government. And for those receiving MSP/TSP-funding why are we not required to do our dry docking in the United States. We can’t build any ships without the home grown resources. Why is it the Obama administration promised Europe in 2012 that we had their backs but yet did nothing to build a fleet of US Flag LNG and product tankers to be able to avert the crisis they are in now.
Everything is short sighted and the overlords are non mariners, most with a jd after their names. Let them try to pass our exams on the first try.
I am thoroughly disgusted with the state our industry is in-and we mariners have got to get more involved to get to the positions of power where the professional Mariner writes the regs and not some flunky hack in government who has no clue or experience to mess up our careers.


And even more special interest groups that love fighting with eachother. Maybe we are just following their lead.

The industry is so starved for capital and political influence I sometimes feel like its a pack of caged starving dogs… if anyone opens that gate holding a stake dinner they will get their hand bit off.


Try this, ask 19brandom people the following questions;

1: what is the merchant marine
2: Are you at all dependent on anything that arrives by ship
3: does the military transport its own cargo
4: can the military be supported by airlift
5: what is the Jones act


It is not required, but a 50% duty on the cost of repairs and upgrades is payed to the US government for using a foreign shipyard. This can be quite substantial if you are talking a multi-million dollar yard period.

I would also add that several MSP ships have eclipsed the serviceable size of most US drydocks. The ones that are large enough are being used to build and service US Navy ships. Additionally, most US yards, long ago gave up on building or even servicing commercial vessels because they don’t offer the bottomless pockets that Uncle Sam does.

I am with you on a lot of your sentiment, but there are (as always) extenuating circumstances.

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At some point, we need to separate the companies that employ us, from the workers, us, the actual mariners, the ones who created the record profits, while the office types sit at desks shitting on us, then going home to their families every night, we, the mariners work 7 days a week, iften y der conditions that would crush shore types, we spend months away from our families, we miss birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, we miss our child’s first steps, first words.

We do all this, make shareholders richer, for less and less money, fewer benefits, while the bean counters and regulatory agencies make it harder, and harder to work.

Make no mistake, our companies,; Matson, APL, TOTe, Pasha, Crowley, OSG, ARC, all of them would flag out and replace us if they could.

I sailed tankers in the Gulf ( Boston Ocean, and Glenneagle) during the tanker war, we were shot at all the time, and no recognition, during the first Gulf war the government begged for mariners, seafarers came out of retirement, we came through, and again nothing, the same story over and over again.

When the next war starts, with Russia, or China, or more likely both, they’ll be begging us to sail, and most likely we will, I likely will, and some of us may die, will our families at least be taken care of? Doubtful, and when it’s done…
Will many of us once again be told that we’re " not qualified for emergency service" like at the end of WW2?

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