The Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced in a recent Congressional Listening Session before
the House Transportation and Infrastructure Coast
Guard and maritime transportation subcommittee that
the U.S. mariner workforce will require upward of
74,000 mariners over the course of the next decade,
delivering an ominous prospect to maritime stakeholders who have grappled for years with the issue of
recruiting skilled mariners into the U.S.-flag fleet.
For those at the listening session on March 1, including Navy and Coast Guard representatives, maritime
union heads, and shipping and industry leaders, the
staggering figure underscored the ongoing challenge
within the maritime community to recruit skilled maritime workers and, in particular, to ease the seemingly
time-consuming and cumbersome transition faced by
retiring military members who are well-suited to the slate
of maritime jobs on U.S. vessels that are available today.
Among industry representatives at the session
was Zoe Goss, director of marine development for
Jacksonville, Fla.-based Crowley
Maritime Corp. A commander in
the U.S. Navy Reserve for more than
17 years, Goss oversees Crowley’s
efforts to improve the credentialing
process for departing service mem-
bers to join the maritime industry
and secure maritime jobs.
“Our biggest concern is the
reduction of the mariner workforce [in light of] the figures given
to us by MARAD,” Goss said. “The
maritime academies only produce
a certain amount of officers every
year, and that number is approximately 9,000 officers over that
same time frame, which is very
disconcerting. Furthermore, we
have a workforce that is known
to be older and we do expect a lot of retirements and
people transitioning on to retirement.
“We focus highly on the retention of our existing
personnel, but we know that as our mariners retire,
then we really need to look at the career development
and succession planning of our junior officers into
those senior officer positions. And, we will need to
backfill the junior officer positions,” he said.
Goss discussed the additional training requirements
that have come out internationally by the International
Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and
Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), to which the United
States is a party. Most prospective mariners aboard U.S.-flag vessels require some level of STCW training.
“These are very prescriptive requirements that
require additional training and assessments that will
add to the burden on mariners to not only obtain a credential but to upgrade their credential to senior officer
level,” Goss told Seapower.
The industry has long had concerns about the requirements for military veterans to document military sea ser-
Easing the Transition
Projected needs for U.S.-flag mariners call for more expedient credentialing
By DAISY R. KHALIFA, Special Correspondent
The U.S. mariner workforce will require upward of 74,000
mariners over the course of the next decade, according to the
Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration.
n The commercial maritime industry long has had concerns about
the requirements for military veterans to document military sea
service necessary to apply for mariner certificates and licenses.
n Some within industry say military members should be issued a
Transportation Worker Identification Credential card before leaving the service, eliminating at least one bureaucratic process for
job-seeking veterans interested in maritime jobs.
n U.S. shippers are very supportive of recruiting retiring military
personnel and bringing them into their respective fleets.
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 62 SEAPOWER / MAY 2016