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I was just reading the Executive report from the MNA and came across a surprising statement on today's British Merchant Navy. Currently there are 11,000 UK ticketed Officers at sea with 1,650 un-certified ones and nearly 9,000 ratings.
I was surprised at the overall low count of 21,000 for what was a major industry in the U.K. But quite shocked at only 9000 ratings. Is it no longer a job today's youth consider, low wages, to much like hard work? Anyone have a view on this?
Where are you from: Barrow, now Glasgow or thereabouts
I suspect much lower crewing levels on modern ships has an effect as well as men from countries where what is a low wage here (UK) is a good wage where they come from. If you were a ship operator where would you go for crew?
I also think the unions helped drive operators to seek the foreign crews as well, especially in the 60's and 70's, which subsequently became the norm. Sad, but that is "globalisation"!
70-75% of operating costs of ANY ship is crew costs. 15 years ago, the daily charter rate for 30odd thousand tonnes dry bulk carrier was a $130,000 per day so no-one cared if the crew came from Mars. Nowadays, if the owner is lucky and gets a time-charter he might get $8000 a day but on the spot market that can be as low as 5k which can be less that the operating costs of the ship. Charterer only pays for the fuel used in the carriage of his cargo but owner pays the rest. Being a ship owner is probably the most risky business in the world right now, but owners outweigh the risks by employing cheaper crew. This may sound shocking but I have been a superintendent for 12 years now managing many different ship types and there is no way on this earth that I will ever say that one crew nationality is better than another - I've seen them all but they are all cheaper that UK, Dutch or German. 2 years ago my owner bought 2 general cargo ships from a UK owner and operator and they were under the UK Flag. I have never seen such poorly maintained ships in my life. Having sailed under UK flagged ships all my life I was totally amazed at how they ever got past any Class or MCA inspections. The crew were also a mixture of Cape Verde, Bulgarian, Russian and with Ukrainian Master - and before you say it, UK Flag does NOT require any UK seaman on board anymore.
Years ago we all worked for the 'Company'. You were paid 12 salaries per year, you were in the company pension scheme and enjoyed being an employee. But now, because of the money grabbing shareholders or individual owners, crew are picked ' as and when needed '. Fortunately the ITF have restricted the 'slave labour' that used to occur but I'm sorry to say that there is no way back for the British seafarer unless you are specialised in a particular ship type or industry such as superyachts, nuclear or offshore.
We had the best times of our lives when we were at sea. It will never be the same again so do what I do and look at your old photographs, talk your old seadogs and laugh when you think of what the kids at sea today are missing out on.
Please read my bit on Chusan,I must have been one of the last 16 year olds to enjoy life at sea to such an extent, all for £24 a month. I saved as much as I could, saw the world and retired with an MN pension at the age of 58, not bad going, and my education was all gained at sea.
From what I gather, it is surprising anyone is left seafaring these days.
Life aboard seems very boring and restricted, I don't think any of us could stand it aboard a modern ship, with the silly rules and regulations. It was bad enough for us, what it must be like today, heaven knows.
I don't think even the pay is very good these days either.
The romance has gone out of being a seafarer these days I feel. With the advent of quick, cheap travel, the novelty is no longer there.