Why does the Merchant Marine hate itself?

Not to take this too far off topic but I just had to comment on this. Shipyard periods encompass a lot of work, much of it regulatory driven. Regulatory inspections are not generally dutiable, nor are modifications. If something is opened for inspection (Class and/or USCG) and repairs are required, the cost of “open and inspect” is separated from the repairs on the invoice to avoid unnecessary duty.

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I’ve never been presented the bill. Just always been told that the duty will be substantial. Thanks for the clarification.

There should be NO REASON that any US flag vessel cannot be repaired here in the United States.
The 50% value added tax is a joke when when you can still get out of an overseas shipyard for under a million bucks.
We are at the point where we have no skilled labor, no homegrown industry to meet our needs and we have done it to ourselves chasing the magical dollar instead of realizing that ships, shipbuilding and repair along with the associated skills and industrial capacity is a national security issue not a dollar and cents issue. The bean counters lack common sense. Our competitors see it that way, why do they subsidize everything , so they have the skilled workforce and the capacities to beat us. It’s a very long game, not over after the quarterly reports come out. It’s generational and we had better wake up to that.

When OSG converted the Overseas Tampa to be a shuttle tanker, instead of having it done in Charleston like the other two, they chose to have it done in Poland. It took half the time it would have in Charleston, and even with the large duty they paid, it was still cheaper than having it done in the US.


The Rumor is that some Chinese yards kickback some of the fee and encourage you to send your engineers home to save money. Some in national security circles think they are doing this to install nefarious devices and software on American flag ships which will track or disable them if war breaks out.

Again, this is just a rumor.

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That’s a new one on me. Frankly it sounds like something I would find on a QAnon website.


Yeah did this one when we first heard about it:
China Has Militarized Seafarers Says US Navy Report

And this one:
Chinese seafarers are replacing Indian and Filipino crews around the world.

Yet… those two articles are backed up by reputable sources.

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The ship owners are cooperating with this apparently. They choose cheap labor. Ship owners have zero interest in anything but making money. They have a tax home in Cyprus or some other country, they. register their ships in FOC countries while they live in France, USA, or many other countries… This has been going on forever. They couldn’t care less if some Chinese seaman is reporting back to his country. Just as they couldn’t care less if a US seaman reported back to his country what cargo was carried. International ship owners owe allegiance to no country. When was the last time a major ship owner went to jail? Jon Fredericksen got rich running oil for Iran many years ago when there was an embargo. Greed has no patriotism.

John Frederiksen in 1986 maybe?:

The default for human nature is tribalism, and the essence of tribalism is to love your tribe and despise all others.

Seafarers are split into tribes: union-this, union-that, non-union, tug, OSV, fisherman, deep-sea, this-license, that-license, certificate; academy, hawsepipe… The biggest tribal division: worker versus employer. All in the same profession. All, to greater or lesser degree, antagonistic, or ignorant, of each other.

It’s not a matter of merchant mariners hating each other, as much as liking their own tribes and despising the others. Mariners are quick to blame others for dividing them, instead of blaming themselves for not trying to overcome the divisions.

I sailed union in the Gulf War. Most of the crew were MEBA, who despised the captain for being MMP. A small number of the crew were NMU, an acronym interpreted to me by some aboard as “*iggers, malcontents, and undesirables”. On a different ship with a different mix of unions, the negativity would have been about the same. If that level of tribal negativity exists on a union level imagine how much stronger it is between union and non-union, unlimited license versus limited license, etc., etc…

If U.S. mariners banded together as a profession, with the gravitational attraction being mutual respect based on professional pride, there would be hope to reduce the centrifugal force of tribalism. With the American Medical Association pride in profession is paramount, and a watchword is, “Never say anything bad about a fellow doctor”. But tribalism is so deep-seated and engrained with U.S. mariners the centrifugal forces are too strong.

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I’ve sailed both Union, and non-union, and honestly, I haven’t seen the same level of tribalism that you have, the ship I’m on right now has 6 Unions represented, and pretty much everyone gets along. What I see the most of is curiosity about other sectors


And I’m glad of that. Makes for a much more pleasant workplace.

oops, forgot about that brief stay more than 30 years ago.

A ship with those crew dynamics could be considered unseaworthy.