I'm asking because two fellow bloggers have complained about the situation for US merchant seamen and officers in recent weeks.
First, Captain Jill is having a very hard time finding work.
I spent most of every day this week still trying to find work. Filling out online applications (again), for all the same places that I’ve already filled them out for. Calling everyone I could find to call. Still getting the same results...
Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
So, I broke down and went to Houston on Wednesday to see about joining the SIU. The unlicensed seamans union. I’ve been an applicant with the AMO (licensed officers union) since at least December and have had 1 (yes only 1) possible job. That job was gone before I could even return the phone call! Since then, they don’t answer the phone, they don’t return calls, I’ve pretty much lost hope that they actually have any work.
Of course I would rather use the license I’ve spent 30+ years and $50,000+++ to earn! But if I have to sail as a deckhand, I’m perfectly willing to do that too. Anything out at sea is better than working at McDonalds or Domino’s, which seem to be the only jobs open to me on the beach.
S***! 2 college degrees and 30 years of experience to earn the highest license there is out there, and what does it get me? NOTHING! Not a damn thing!
Yeah, I’ve had it pretty good up until the last couple of years. I was able to save a few bucks. I was able to travel and enjoy life. I did really love a few of my jobs. Never really hated any of them. But after almost 2 years of unemployment and unable to find ANY work that will even come close to paying the bills, I have to say I am getting more than a little bit pissed off.
Yes. Pissed off! Frustrated. Angry. Depressed. Un-motivated. I could go on...
There's more at the link.
Then, Paul, Dammit! informs us that the fuel sector of the US maritime industry is in a bad way.
There's a serious morale issue throughout the ports of NY/NJ fuel barge crew. My company is not immune there. Oh, we're doing fine compared to the poor bastards down in the Gulf of Mexico, where even master mariners are working as able seamen and thankful when there's even that for work. While you're not seeing massive savings at the pump anymore thanks to the suits in the futures markets who're really cashing in, efficiencies have led to companies being able to get oil out of the ground cheaper on land, which is competitive with offshore oil, even given the disparities of distribution costs. Jobs have shifted for now, and both shale oil and offshore oil have plenty of wells just waiting for the price index to rise enough to be worth kicking the drills in gear. In the meanwhile, while the low-hanging fruit is being brought to market, there's lots of hungry bellies.
Morale is pretty low in the US maritime fuel transport sector, at least in many parts. It seems like medium-parcel movements are down, too, but not to the extent that I've seen in the small boats.
Unfortunately, I lack the ability to read crystal balls, and I don't have enough chatty friends in the marketing sector for fuel transport to really put together a more complete, coherent synopsis for what's going on, but I can say that the coconut telegraph among friends and shipmates and acquaintances online, there's an awful lot of this time is different in terms of riding out the slowdown.
Well, we'll see.
Again, more at the link.
Does anyone know whether these problems extend throughout the US merchant shipping industry? Are they on both the East and the West Coasts? What are the reasons for the downturn? How bad is it here compared to elsewhere in the world, where I note that some articles complain about a skills shortage?
I'd like to know more. If anyone can provide further information, or post links to relevant articles, I'd be grateful. Thanks.