U.S. owned and operated, has about 5,500 employees,
including a mariner pool of anywhere from 2,500 to
3,000, depending on the ebb and flow — and growth
and reduction — of its fleet force, Goss said. Where the
company sees the most urgency is the engineering side,
and it specifically sees needs in the future with the unlicensed engineering department, the licensed engineering department and the unlicensed deck department.
“Those are the three main areas where there needs to
be some work conducted in order to ease the transition
of qualified military members to be able to move and
transition into those positions,” Goss said.
Crowley assumed last August a technical management contract of six Military Sealift Command (MSC)
Maritime Prepositioning Ships, a full turnkey operation
and management of the fleet, including crewing scheduled and unscheduled repair, and dry-docking.
“[This] area within our MSC vessel fleet involves
specific positions on board that would easily be filled
by military members right now if they were able to
get their credentials — specifically, foreman [and] also
storekeepers. There are specific Navy ratings where
they worked as storekeepers, and they could transition
right over into our MSC fleet,” Goss said.
This also applies “to the electronics officers. There are
Navy ratings where they’ve been doing this active duty
status. If they could to get their credential coming out of
their active duty, they would be able to ease right into the
position on board a Crowley vessel,” she said.
Berkowitz said other U.S. shippers — among them
Tote Maritime, Foss Maritime, Matson and Harley
Marine Services — are very supportive of recruiting
retiring military and bringing them into their respective fleets. The industry, he said, offers tremendous
room for growth.
“MARAD said we need 74,000 new mariners in the
next 10 years, and about half of those are officers,” he
said. “The industry really needs them at higher spots,
at chief electrician, the chief mate level — and so the
system encourages you to move up. Even if you don’t
have the skills to make it at the highest pay rates, the
system will encourage you to pursue that skill, and
they will pay for your school and pay for your training
to get there.”
Goss also is a member of the Merchant Marine Per-
sonnel Advisory Committee (MERPAC), a 19-member
panel of maritime experts and private citizens across
industry and government administered by the U.S.
Coast Guard. Established in 1992, MERPAC has been
dealing with the military-to-mariner issue for more
than 15 years, she said.
In addition to Goss, several MERPAC representatives also were in attendance at the Congressional session in early March, where U.S. Reps. Duncan Hunter,
R-Calif., and John Garamendi, D-Calif., discussed
matters with maritime stakeholders.
“It was an opportunity for both the industry and
the military side to speak on behalf of the military-to-mariner issue, and we’re working from the same page
as far as what the industry needs are, and what the
workforce needs are coming up in the future in order
to see to what level of effort and participation the military is willing to provide at this stage towards easing
the transition of the credentialing process,” Goss said.
The Pentagon paid some $41 million in unemployment benefits in 2011 and 2012 for unemployed service members, according to Berkowitz. He believes this
may be triggering a change in attitude in the military.
“I think they recognize that if you have to pay
unemployment, that it comes directly out of the
Pentagon’s budget,” he said. “So we can help reduce
some of that.”
Berkowitz said a recent report from Great Britain, in
which 13 percent of Royal Navy service members and
officer corps moved into Merchant Mariner jobs, bodes
well for the U.S. shipping industry.
“Thirteen percent of the British Navy ended up in
the Merchant Marine and folks transitioned straight
into their civilian sectors, according to a report that
we’ve seen,” Berkowitz said. “If we had 13 percent of
our sea [service men and women], we would be inundated with new mariners, so even a small fraction of
that would probably suit our needs.” n
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 64 SEAPOWER / MAY 2016
Military Sealift Command (MSC) civil service mariner
William Davis, left, leads a team of Sailors tending a phone
and distance line aboard the U.S. Sixth Fleet command
and control ship USS Mount Whitney during an underway
replenishment with the MSC fast combat support ship
USNS Arctic. Mount Whitney, forward deployed to Gaeta,
Italy, operates with a combined crew of Sailors and MSC
civil service mariners.