Impact on jobs in the industry?

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by AMF, Sep 5, 2013.

  1. AMF

    AMF Member

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    Can one (or more) of you currently working in the maritime industry provide some commentary on this (distressing?) article? Can you put it in perspective compared with other historical "down turns" in the industry?

    Thanks
     
  2. AlexT

    AlexT Banned

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    Can you provide a link or reference for the article?
     
  3. tankercaptain

    tankercaptain Member

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    Currently the job market for US mariners is very robust, ie if you have a license you will have no problem finding a job.
     
  4. ssdmmf

    ssdmmf Member

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    My husband sails chief/1st....I often go with him to the union hall, I have noticed many more good jobs (ie higher paying companies, better locations) going "open board" in the last few years. he has commented many times how hard it is to find good 3rds and 2nds. When they do find someone, they do everything they can to keep them with an eye on future openings in higher positions. Due to changes in the Meba pension, many chiefs and 1st are taking the buyout while they can, so there will be plenty of room for advancement in the future if you do your job well.
     
  5. AMF

    AMF Member

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  6. tankercaptain

    tankercaptain Member

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    I read that article in the maritime executive. Most of the ships currently in the MSP already exhausted their funding for the year, ie their operating subsidy wasn't paid in full by the government. These ships are still operating, however depending what happens in 2014 we will see how many ships stop flying the American flag. I've heard the real number for ships being cut out of the program will be 5-10 not the 15 they claim.
    With that being said the offshore industry is hiring like crazy. If you want to work one month on and on month off making more than you would with the union, offshore is the place to be. Again if you have a license you will work. If you have a tankerman PIC endorsement you will work more and if you get your DP cert. you will never have want for work or money.
     
  7. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    The most disturbing aspect of that story is the reference to the movie Captain Phillips. :rolleyes:

    Numerous misuses of vernacular and hyperbole aside, Much ado about not a lot and the sky is NOT falling … MSP is one small aspect of a small part of the cargo shipped for one customer. If the industry as a whole and its related job prospects are threatened by a small reduction then the industry is on its deathbed anyway. Also of note is that the primary source for the doom and gloom is the president of a labor union, not what I would consider an authoritative source on the impact to the shipping companies.

    The real take away from this story for those graduating soon … You should have gone engine!
     
  8. AMF

    AMF Member

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    For the less informed (ME!) what is a DP certificate and a PIC endorsement?
     
  9. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    DP is Dynamic Positioning. Its a system which automatically operates the various manoevering systems on board (engines, rudders, bow thrusters, etc.) to keep a vessel locked on station. A fully certified DPO makes crazy crazy money, easily over $1,000 per day on the low end and I've heard of as much as $1,800 per day.

    PIC is Person in Charge. Its an endorsement on an MMC and a requirement to be able to oversee the transfer of Dangerous Goods (i.e. petroleum products) from ship to ship or ship to shore. You can't work as a mate on a tankship without it.
     
  10. deepdraft1

    deepdraft1 Master, Ocean Steam or Motor Vessels, unlimited

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    Captain Don Marcus, the labor union president that you're talking about, happens to be one of the smartest people I've ever had a chance to work with. He is also a tireless worker and advocate of the for the U.S. flag merchant marine. I'm sure he understands the issues far better than anybody I've ever seen post here. He's also a 1979 KP graduate; not that it matters. He wrote the following message to the MM&P membership in our May-June 2013 union magazine. In it he lays out the challenges that we U.S. mariners will be facing in the near future. While I wouldn't characterize the message as gloom and doom I think he does emphasize that the challenges that do lay before us are formidable.. The message is lengthy, but please take the time to read it..

    Union Brothers and Sisters,
    Once again in the history of our chosen profession, foreign wars are winding down and the U.S.-flag merchant marine is being consigned to the dustbin. While all is not lost, the merchant marine must rally before our industrial capacity sinks to a point of no return.

    The Obama administration’s attack on the PL-480 Food for Peace program makes it clear that many in the executive branch of our government are clueless about the value of our industry. The Food for Peace program was designed to alleviate suffering in foreign countries while at the same time promoting U.S. exports and U.S. jobs. Given the nature of Food for Peace, it is incomprehensible that the administration could propose turning it into a cash give-away program. The agency promoting this travesty, USAID, has provided absolutely no credible evidence that doling out cash to third parties would provide more relief than physically delivering food.

    What’s more, the concept that U.S. foreign aid programs could continue to be supported in this era of austerity and budget cuts without any secondary benefit to American workers, farmers and taxpayers, makes one wonder how far from reality the policy-makers in Washington really are. Maritime labor and our allies in the maritime industry as well as in agriculture are rallying Congress to fight off this latest attack. As we go to press, thanks to the efforts of Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and others in Congress on both sides of the aisle, we have made progress. However, the fight to preserve the Food for Peace program in particular and cargo preference in general is far from over. Even more significantly, a look at the condition of the U.S. merchant fleet makes it clear that effective action is necessary now if it is to continue as an economic and military force.

    President Obama’s administration would almost certainly not be in office without the support of labor. The President ran on a platform of providing jobs for Americans, but maritime workers have been left high and dry. The pending appointment of a new Secretary of Transportation is welcome news to anyone who hopes for more than fatuous lip-service. Further change is required at the Department of Transportation (DOT). Despite statements to the contrary by appointed officials at DOT, repairing a pier and a few buildings at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy does not demonstrate our government’s commitment to the U.S. merchant marine. If our administration has determined to allow our industry to wither and die, it is our duty to inform the country of the economic and national security repercussions that will follow.

    Fortunately, our friends in Congress, the Department of Defense and its transportation agency, the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) understand the gravity of the situation. Also, there is reason for optimism at the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD). The promotional agency of the U.S. merchant marine has the dedicated personnel and ability to advocate for and enforce many of the laws and regulations pertaining to our industry. MARAD, with effective leadership and industry support, could be more effective. MARAD must be given the support it needs by the administration and within DOT.

    What is lacking, besides leadership, is a coherent national maritime policy. While the same could also be said about many other American industries, it has not always been that way for the U.S.-flag merchant marine. This needs to change if we are to do more than fight delaying actions while the industry continues to melt away. Since the loss of the House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries in 1995 and the enactment of the life-saving Maritime Security Act of that year—if not well before that during the Reagan era (when, among other things, the Construction Differential Subsidy Program was killed and the Operational Differential Subsidy Program was crippled)—our maritime industrial policy has foundered. Various champions in Congress and elsewhere in government have stepped into the breach to keep us afloat since that time. However, by sheer passage of time the effect of a rudderless and incoherent maritime agenda continues to take its toll. The decline in the number of ocean-going vessels in the U.S. merchant marine is sufficient to tell the story. In 1990 there were approximately 450 U.S.-flag commercial vessels in domestic and international trade. Today, there are fewer than 200. Less than two percent of our foreign trade is carried aboard U.S.- flag vessels. The critical mass necessary to maintain a viable merchant marine is fading away ship by ship.

    Of course, at least in theory, national maritime policy already exists. It consists of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936 and its many amendments. The preamble to the Act states:

    TITLE I – DECLARATION OF POLICY
    SECTION 101. It is necessary for the national defense and development of its foreign and domestic commerce that the United States shall have a merchant marine
    (a) sufficient to carry its domestic water-borne commerce and a substantial portion of the waterborne export and import foreign commerce of the United States and to provide shipping service on all routes essential for maintaining the flow of such domestic and foreign water-borne commerce at all times,
    (b) capable of serving as a naval and military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency,
    (c) owned and operated under the United States flag by citizens of the United States insofar as may be practicable, and
    (d) composed of the best-equipped, safest, and most suitable types of vessels, constructed in the United States and manned with a trained and efficient citizen personnel, and
    (e) supplemented by efficient facilities for shipbuilding and ship repair.
    It is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States to foster the development and encourage the maintenance of such a merchant marine.

    This is a fine statement of policy. It was enacted to ensure that we had economic and military independence. But those familiar with our industry know that in 2013, this is a policy in name only. Action is required. We must demand it of our national leaders. While implementing a coherent national maritime policy in line with the Merchant Marine Act of 1936 is a long reach in the current political environment, a starting point to regenerating our industry is insistence by Congress that the executive branch take every reasonable step to enforce our existing laws. Cargo Preference, the Jones Act and the Maritime Security Program are the most obvious and topical examples. Without clear and unequivocal support for these programs, the financial resources needed to modernize and expand the U.S.-flag fleet will not be available. Without more ships and the capacity to build them, the Jones Act and the U.S. merchant marine are doomed. Outgoing Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood treated the audience at the DOT Maritime Day 2013 commemoration to a classic example of Washington, D.C., doublespeak when he touted his agency’s support of the Title XI Ship financing program. The reality is that no Title XI funding for new commitments has been requested by Secretary LaHood or the administration.

    For the merchant marine, infrastructure means ships. Without ships, the enemies of the U.S.-flag merchant marine will not need to repeal the Jones Act. It will simply become irrelevant and our merchant marine will get in line with those of Canada and Australia—other nations that lost their maritime industries when their shipbuilding capacity and cabotage laws were allowed to wither.

    Our mission at MM&P is to demand more from our government. We are carrying out that objective by establishing Maritime Advisory Committees with our allies in major U.S. ports. These committees bring labor and management together as local constituents to the offices of our Congressional representatives. The newly established and bipartisan Congressional Maritime Caucus is the fruit of our efforts. Further, two bills recently introduced in Congress, HR 1678, the “Saving Essential American Sailors (SEAS)” Act and HR 949 the “Invest in American Jobs Act” indicate that some in Congress understand the gravity of the situation. The first bill, introduced by Congressmen Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Scott Rigell (R-Va.), would reverse the drastic cuts made to the cargo preference program at the end of last year, reductions that were made prior to the administration’s plan to decimate what is left of the Food for Peace program. The second bill, introduced by Congressman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), would require U.S. ownership and crews for vessels working in the exclusive economic zone of the United States. Whether these bills will see the light of day given the current Congressional logjam is open to question. There is no doubt, however, that with our prompting, our friends in Congress have the ability to push the administration to enforce the laws and regulations that are already on the books. They have the ability to demand competent and effective leadership at DOT and MARAD: leaders who understand that our country’s economic and military security depend on a capable merchant marine. We are pledged to work with our friends in Congress, in labor and in industry to put the U.S.-flag fleet back on an even keel. We ask for your help in this effort. We are looking for volunteers for our local maritime advisory committees, for members willing to write letters to their members of Congress and for contributions to our Political Action Fund, the MM&P PCF. Our families and the next generation of American mariners are counting on us.
    Fraternally,
    Don Marcus
    MM&P International President
     
  11. deepdraft1

    deepdraft1 Master, Ocean Steam or Motor Vessels, unlimited

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    I don't about you, but I didn't get my license to sit over some drill site in the GOM fussing with a joystick as a DP operator.. I don't care how much it paid. I worked tankers for Trinidad and Keystone as 2nd and 3rd mate early in my career. That was in the late 70's to early 80's. I was on both 'drugstore' tankers and the big 'black oil' ships. That was interesting and challenging work but things have really changed on tankers since then. With pollution laws the way they are these days I don't know if I would want to risk that again. From late 1984 until I retired in 2010 I sailed exclusively 'breakbulk' and containerships. It was a great experience. I've been all over the world from Madras, India to Paita Peru.. from Laem Chabang, Thailand to Iskenderun Turkey.. and from Santos, Brazil to Tanjung Priok Indonesia, just to name a few places. I think if I had to do it all over again starting tomorrow I'd probably say 'Nah, I think I'll probably just go into banking or maybe peddle real estate or used cars..' My kid seems to be cool with going to sea though.. He's currently happily sailing 2nd Mate on containership.. I guess if you've never experienced the way it was it's easier to accept the way it is now..
     
  12. KP2013dramamama

    KP2013dramamama Member

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    DS2013, 3rd mate, personally paid for DPS training 2 wks after graduation. Has gone looking for work, showing up with fab resume' in NO, pounding the pavement, using a few contacts. (New Orleans). To get a job, he needs experience. So how do you get the experience? It sounds like a catch 22 to me!
     
  13. tankercaptain

    tankercaptain Member

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    If he really wants to work in the offshore industry he will, I can say two things to you about it, patience and time.

    He just graduated so, I suggest he starts sailing out of the union hall. If he wants to start getting DP time he should try Tyco on the cable ships, it's a nice back door in. Also knocking on doors in Houston helps too, and looking for everything and anything from OSV, Supply Boats, Crew Boats, AHTS and drillships. Being persistent helps.
     
  14. tankercaptain

    tankercaptain Member

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    I'll preface my statement with this, opinions are like you know what, everyone has them and they all stink. Prior to my current job most of my time was on coastwise tankers moving black and white oil. I loved working on coastwise tankers, I found a better class of mates and engineers and much more motivated SIU ABs, Pumpmen, QMEDs and Oilers. But then again it's just my opinion. I took grain overseas and wasn't worth the headaches just to see some place. By the way the only thing to see in Santos is the ABC Bar, Rio, Recife and Imbatuba are much better, but then again my opinion.
    I sailed on cable ships too and enjoyed that, you really get to enjoy a port/city on those ships as compared to liner services. I got the opportunity to see a lot of the far east on the cable ships, you get a lot of great port time on them. With all of that being said I enjoyed my time on drillships. The pay was awesome. It's much easier to have a life making well 185k a year working one month on and one month off then sailing out of the union hall wondering if they are going to scrap the ship, reflag the ship or lay it up or even if there is going to be a pension left. I also got to do some of my best traveling with the drill ship, they sent me all over the world for training and shipyard and paid me well for it. In addition to my monthly salary, I would get another day for day pay for every day I was in training. I tell young kids all the time that going to a maritime academy is a great deal and if you want to go to sea. Drillships are the way to go unless you want to be a pilot. Young kids can be 30 years old making $200k a year working only six months a year. You can be sailing captain of chief engineer making almost $250k, it's not bad. That's a a lot of money and a lot of time off to travel and see the world the way you want to instead of on a containership with 8 hours in port or on a breakbulk ship carrying grain into Djbouti going to green bean coffee at Camp Lemonair arguing with the Pakistan evacuator guy or the workers high on kat. Again, this is just my opinion so it's just that an opinion, doesn't mean much except to me.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2013
  15. KP2013dramamama

    KP2013dramamama Member

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    Thanks Tankercaptain!
     
  16. tankercaptain

    tankercaptain Member

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    Trying to PM you
     
  17. proudmomcolorado

    proudmomcolorado Member

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    DP Cert

    This might be helpful for future mids that get their DP schooling cert. DS also has his DP cert, interviewed with the DP shipping companies at the job fairs, and the two jobs that were given out went to mids who lived in the south. Only can think that the DP companies wanted their employees close to their home base. :smile:
    And yes he was told over and over that he needed the DP cert. He will use it perhaps with his current employer.
     
  18. cmakin

    cmakin Member

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    Boy, I have to agree with you there. In my seagoing career, I stayed "blue water" in the early 80s, that meant ocean towing, coastwise and near foreign (Caribbean), and eventually landing a long term gig on a product ATB that ran both Coastwise US and also made overseas voyages. When even those jobs were becoming scarce and I started a family (and got laid off when the Unit was sold), it really wasn't worth the effort, and working in the oil patch wasn't what I wanted to do. Ironically, I became involved in the oil patch once I came ashore and started working with a Class society and now is about 80% of what I do as an insurance consultant. I have to agree, though. I don't know that I would want to work on an offshore vessel/unit even with the higher pay. I guess it is just the idea of at least going somewhere, moving, and even getting to see someplace, if not new, then at least different from home.

    As far as making a comment on the change in the food aid, that is too bad, as well. When we send food to these impoverished nations, at least some of it will reach the people that need it. That keeps the US farmers employed that grow it and the US seamen employed that ship it. I am fully aware that some of it is being repackaged and sold by the recipients, but at least the food is getting to the impoverished. By sending money to these corrupt leaders to grow their own food? Really? What makes anyone think that will actually happen. It will just line the pockets of the politicians. . .

    Off my soap box.
     
  19. deepdraft1

    deepdraft1 Master, Ocean Steam or Motor Vessels, unlimited

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    You got that right brother..:smile:

    I went to sea to work and make a living doing something I loved. The fact that I was fortunate enough to do that work in some fairly exotic places was a just a bonus. I didn't go to sea to go ashore and play tourist. Working with juiced up longshoremen in Djibouti, the a$$hole Korean hatch boss in Busan or less than motivated SIU crews is all part of the job. Deal with it, or go ashore and maybe look for something less challenging like working as an interior decorator or shoe salesman.. I’ll tell you this, I would rather be standing a containership deck watch at Sand Island in Honolulu than working on a drillship in the GOM any day of the week; and I don’t care how much the pay difference is. But again, that’s just me. There are probably a ton of people that will be attracted by the money and that type of work. I do hope it works out for those that choose that route ‘cause It’ll mean that there will be less completion for berths on the more traditional type ships of the merchant marine [linehaul containerships, bulk carriers, RORO ships and tankers].

    I know that the money working for these companies is big; but I also know how the ‘bean counters’ in the office operate too.. So one thing to keep in mind; you may be making that now, but I’ll guarantee you that they’re working on ways to cut cost by either finding a way to reduce your pay or outsource your job altogether by hiring some eastern European or Filipino. They don’t give you that kind of dough just because they’re feeling generous. They do it because there’s a compelling reason. Once that ‘compelling reason’ goes away the money or your job will too. So you have to ask yourself, I’m I going to be cool doing the same job making less or getting less vacation and benefits or possibly even having to go look for another job?

    Many years ago I was at a union meeting presided over by the MM&P President Captain Bob Lowen [a ’54 KP grad I think]. The meeting was to discuss the eventual loss of the ODS and the impact it was going to have on future contract negotiations and numbers of ships/jobs. I’ll never forget him asking all of us the question “men, do you know why shipping companies employ “third world” crews? There was a long pause because no one had an answer. Then he said ‘because there are no “fourth world crews” available yet’.. If the companies can pay less for a crew they will.

    That's the nature of this business.. If you’re afraid of employment uncertainty and battling employers for decent wages and benefits, the merchant marine is probably no place for you. That’s why I advise my 2nd mate son to raise his license as quickly as possible, try and get his pilotage endorsements [maybe SF bay, Puget Sound or LA/LB because he lives on the west coast] AND save his money..

    By the way the ABC bar was no big thing.. The Love Story bar was better.. Rio was good but Bangkok and Laem Chabang [10 clicks from Pattaya Beach] Thailand beats the rest of those places you named ‘hands down’.. but that’s just MY opinion. I’ll be down below; call me when the wind shifts.. :wink:
     
  20. cmakin

    cmakin Member

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    Er, I don't know what you mean . . . .

    Yeah. I whole heartedly agree. I do the occasional loading survey and do have to deal with longshoremen, port captains and "dynamic" loading plans. Heh, and I am an engineer. Paybacks, I guess.
     

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