Why The US Merchant Marine Is Failing

The new account. Joined April 2018


Yes I saw that. Four posts about NASA Astronaut Mark Kelly who, commanded space shuttles, is a publisher author and is a KP Alumni!

:heart:️ It!!

What I don’t :heart:️ is the fact there are ZERO posts about NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly who, commanded space shuttles, is a publisher author and is a Fort Schuyler Alumni!

Ohh yeah and… Scott Kelly (the twin NOT mentioned by MARAD) also just happens to have BROKE THE NASA SPACE EDURANCE RECORD.

So that leads to the question… is MARAD promoting just the USMMA or are they promoting all the Merchant Marine education and training?

If it’s the later how about we get a few posts about Hawsepipers who have made history!

That’s not wages. He specified that as the total cost of employment, including all the things you mentioned below.

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When the rest of the seafaring nations drop their Cabotage laws, then I will BEGIN to think about dropping US Laws. Once again, you’ve brought in some wacked out monthly figures. You seem to have a really disparaging opinion of US Seamen- that we’re overpaid and not fully competent- nothing could be further from the truth.

FOC’s ? Second Flag Registries? Take a very close look at one of your most revered RO-RO companies… They have all but displaced ALL of the Swedes and Norwegians in favor of some of your favorite third world crews… Most people who I deal with (In Europe, BTW) have stated that these “replacement” crews are not nearly as competent as the crews they “displaced”.

One of my prime goals is to ABSOLUTELY stop this from happening aboard US Flag Vessels… We need a viable and robust US Fleet- so that you people can have a rescuer when the SHTF. Think about it.

Here’s a start: https://www.payscale.com/research/US/School=United_States_Merchant_Marine_Academy_(USMMA)/Salary

This is more of a political question than an economic one. It is U.S. government policy to subsidize the merchant marine by direct and indirect means partly to maintain pool of mariners as well as other reasons.

Whether anyone agrees or disagrees with that policy; the argument that U.S. mariner’s wages are not international competitive is irrelevant. U.S. policy towards the merchant marine recognizes this, that’s the point of the policy.


Thanks for that link…some good info there.

Pg. 7 of your link quotes the price of a FEU from Shanghai to USEC as $2,100…not that far off from his estimate of $2,500. The other assumptions you say are wrong actually HELP his case that manning ships with higher wage earners adds insignificant cost to the final consumer of the products. (crew size of 22 vs. his 28, and foreign crew wages not being zero).

This is the difference between a first world country and a 3rd world country (as you well know). Why should we (or any other 1st world country) lower our standard of living (in the form of both lower wages and 9 month on/2 month off rotations) for the betterment of country X just because they’re willing to supply some cheap labor?

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Why not look at the if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them option? The US could follow the model of some European countries in operating both closed and open registries.

Instead of big US operators going to either Panama, Liberia or Marshall Islands give them a Guam, American Samoa or Puerto Rico option. Streamline the registry operations, throw them a bone on labor and say you can have a small % of crews be foreigner.

You may get some ships back and not have to sacrifice safety in process.


Yes I’m fully aware of the US system for subsidizing shipping and the reason for it, as I have pointed out many times when somebody come up with the mantra about the reason for the desmis of US shipping being “foreigners subsidizing shipping and shipbuilding”.

As you know I have also argued many times that this big gap on actual costs between US and foreign manning is a convenient excuse, not the real reason that you find very few US flag ships and US mariners in foreign trade.
There are many other underlying reasons, but it is not so “nice” to mention those. Better to blame “3rd World Villagers” for the problems.

He is not mentioning FEU or TEU, but his basis for the gross USD 25 Mill/trip is USD 2500/TEU.
The quoted cost to USEC in my link is per FEU.

BTW; The same FEU shipped to USWC cost USD 1279, while for a TEU to NWE the cost in 2016 was USD 683. (NOTE: It is not a given that a TEU cost half of a FEU or v.v.)

No other countries have cabotage laws that is comparable to the Jones Act, mixing in shipbuilding, ownership and seafarer’s welfare.
Drop those and at least the US domestic fleet would be able to modernize and grow.
You can keep the US crew only and still be on par with the rest of the world.

I don’t revere any company by whatever nationality, although I may be impressed with some that have managed to grow and stay true to their principles over a long time, like Swire. (Although they appear to be slipping a bit lately)

I’m also impressed with those Offshore Marine companies owned and still managed by people who started out as Fishing Skippers with a single fishing boat and ventured into the Offshore industry. Some have now become major players in the industry, with a fleet of modern vessels working worldwide.
Unlike their competitors from the Bayous they remember their roots and know how to take care of their people. They spend millions on safety and comfort for their crews and take care of them when needed, incl. their foreign crews from whatever country.

‘Nobody is worth that kind of money”

The average longshoremen makes $144,000 per year in the US.

Why aren’t mariners worth the same or more? They are worth much more. Mariners have real skills and certifications and give up a lot to leave home for months at a time.

It’s expensive to live in the US.

Taxes are high in the US. The US is the only developed country without “free” national health care. The US is the only country that makes shipowners responsible for the crews health care costs. The US is one of the few countries which tax forgoing shipping income and foreign going seafarer wages. US shipowners make payments to seafarer’s pension plans which must support retired seafarer’s high cost of living.

US seafarers are worth what they get paid. In fact, there are worth a lot more than they are being paid.

It does not matter the foreign flag ships are able to take advantage of third world villagers at slave labor wages.


Hey guys I didn’t post this looking to debate which new US policies should be written and which need to go.

I posted this looking to debate the question of how we get MARAD to advocate for ANY us policy.


You point out many of the problems that is the underlying causes, none if which has anything to do with foreign competition.
I wish you had the decency not to insult your fellow seafarers who are just doing their job and suffer the same long time away from home as US mariners.
I agree that the stevedores/longshoremen are overpaid and a part of the problem, but high cost of living in the US? Have you been to Europe (not to mention Norway or Singapore) lately?

The other problem you lists are very much because your system governing the maritime industry is long outdated. The political problems and the inertia and corruption in Washington may be at the root of that.

You have to fix those problems at home. It is no use to blame some imaginary “third world villagers at slave labor wages”.

We already are losing (and have lost many) shipyards and the talent to build ships. Eliminating any of those would effectively close all shipyards. You hammer these few points over and over, yet you have no skin in the game. This is not your fight and you would stand to lose nothing if the entire industry collapsed. I won’t argue with foreign knowledge and expertise on building ships, and the labor costs. But again, not your fight. I’m sure there are plenty of problems that you can offer solutions for in Norway, but I don’t know for sure because I don’t care.

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How much does it pay?

Btw I saw this and for some reason immediately thought of John as MARAD administrator :joy::joy: https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/01/politics/pruitt-epa-pens/index.html


It sounds like MARAD is mostly a welfare program for burned out admirals that were not talented enough to get hired by defense contractors.

Mikey, your not qualified; you’ve got too much talent.

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Maybe I can see things clearer and more rationally BECAUSE I have no skin in the game and no national interest, or pride in the matter.

Norwegian yards do have problems as well, but they are trying to solve them by innovation and investment, not by spending their money on “lobbying”.

Just today it was announced that none of the four new ships for Havila Kystruten will be built in Norway because even the Owner’s own Havyard did not manage to meet the price and finance arrangement required.

It has been known for a while that two of the ships would be built in Spain, but it was widely expected that the other two would go to Havyard, as it belongs to the Havila Group.
Here from a Norwegian maritime forum I’m member of:

You continually rant against the US in most things. You have a lot of knowledge but it’s diluted with your non-stop crusade against the Jones Act. It’s no different than Canadians chiming in on our elections.

The RUSSIANS!!! Get your facts straight.

I know, it would be much “nicer” if everybody just stuck to the conventional wisdom and agree with everything that is said and believed here. Unfortunately I’m not that nice.

Oh sorry, the Russians were meddling, not chiming in. Canadians BAD!!!

Granted but his point is still valid. Run the numbers again with the changes you have mentioned and use a 15,000 TEU ship (more modern example). 15,000 TEU, $2,100/FEU, 22 man crew, US wages at x% higher (you pick the percentage but I’d suggest 50%). The cost added as a percentage of the cargo value is TINY. THAT’s his point.

The route in question would not require a US built ship so I omitted the part you wrote about US ships. If not increased cost, then what is the reason for no US mariners on the FOC container ships? Please elaborate.

BTW, I don’t blame the 3rd world villagers for anything. I blame our government for allowing the 3rd world villagers to come compete in our marketplace thus undercutting our own citizens.