Failure to Ship Out

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Failure to Ship Out

Postby Sébastien » Sat Mar 08, 2008 6:59 am

When I graduated from college with a degree in marine engineering in the mid nineties all anyone could talk about was the looming shortage of certified officers and the fact that we were entering the market at a perfect time. In the ten complete navigation seasons that I have sailed since obtaining my watch keeper qualification, never have I seen a canadian registered vessel fail to ship out due to lack of qualified crew. For the last four years I have been working as a second engineer with a schedule of two months 'on' and two months 'off' and my relief is always waiting for me on the dock when my time is up. It may not always be the same guy, but he always has the proper papers and experience to replace me so I can go on leave. If there really was a labour shortage, my situation would change, the office would call me and tell me that they can't find anyone to replace me; but that has never happened. I am sincerely starting to think that there never will be a crew shortage. To those that say that the quality of manpower has decreased I can only say that the ship I work on is over thirty years old and never misses a beat because of stupid mistakes done by inferior replacement engineers. Maybe I have just been lucky, but really, has anyone seen or heard of a canadian flagged vessel failing to ship out due to its unability to meet the manning requirements?

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Indeed it is the way

Postby The Dieselduck » Sat Mar 08, 2008 10:08 am

Although just a few years trailing your experiences, my observations are very similar. Which has led me to post many topics in the same train of thought as you are mentioning. Another words I completely agree with you and don't know of any vessels restricted by manning.

I think the companies have less choice nowadays, translating to less ability to leverage their "employer powers", but yes in Canada, I don't think that there ever was a shortage, and I am still on the fence about the future.
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Failure to Ship Out

Postby carbob » Tue Mar 11, 2008 1:03 pm

I don't know if there is a shortage or not in fact, but some of the things that companies have to do to keep the ships moving makes me wonder sometimes. I have been repeatedly asked to extend my hitches, return to work earlier than anticipated, and 'fill in for a week or so' while on leave. This keeps the ships moving, but certainly implies to me that a shortage of qualified personnel exists to some extent. I see people promoted very rapidly, without the benefit of gaining some experience in their current position before moving up the ladder. While I am not suggesting that you need to spend 10 years in each position prior to moving up, you do need to spend some time there. If you read some of these accident investigation reports that come out, you'll notice that very near the front is the page noting the experience of all those personnel involved in the matter, so somebody is putting great stock in the experience factor. But it seems like all the company sees is the certificate, and may not always looking at the whole picture. Certification does not always a good engineer make. I can get my wife to study my notes and she'll pass a certificate exam, but what kind of an engineer does that make her? How about all the new faces that you see when you are joining the vessel? Does that imply a shortfall of experienced people? I know we don't care who replieves us as long as someone comes up the gangway, but that doesn't always make for efficient ship-keeping. Non-experienced personnel means you have to take experienced people away from their own work and have them train the FNG's in the mysteries of your engine room. You might say that engine room is an engine room, but I beg to differ. That may have been so 40 years ago, but in this age of PLC's and microchips running your machinery, there is a bit of a steeper learning curve in my view.

Enough ranting for now, as I am on watch. Martin, excellent site, keep up the good work!

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Postby conrod » Tue Mar 11, 2008 10:55 pm

I think the crux of this goes back to the initial statement. No shortage on a Canadian ship.

I have never had the pleasure of sailing on a Canadian ship. Are there that many. Without being too much of a cynic, Canadian tickets are not as easy as some to come " buy " !!! I have been a Chief for 20 years, and was asked by Transport Canada to go back to school, study, and take exams, to obtain a Transport Canada Ticket................OK things have changed somewhat since I first went down that road.

Anyway, I think once obtained, many of the " older generation " probably stay where they are. The Canadian registry is not as lucrative for many owners. Because of the " higher demands " of hard working Canadian seafarers, the level of available bodies stays reasonably constant, with the more senior class. Younger guys go offshore, and outside of Canada, because they need more; have more to support. etc etc.

As other registries have grown, so has the demand for bodies. Now there is a shortage of officers with the right National Certs. Young fella's are always on the move. How many engineers do you know that have spent their entire career with one Company.

Its not the complete answer, but if you have 5 ships a day joining the Panama registry, then you need at least 3 C/E for each ship. If you only have 1 ship every other day joining the Canadian registry, ..........well the numbers speak for themselves.

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Postby Sébastien » Wed Mar 12, 2008 4:57 am

In reply to Carbob, I must admit that the guy up the gangway is not always to the right one the first time every time. I sometimes had to stay onboard because my replacement had the papers but not the experience level required to safely operate and manage an engine room, at least not to canadian standards. I know of a certain eastern european gentleman who failed all of his part A exams twice each, but went on vacation in his country of origin "got" his ticket and presented it to Transport Canada who gave him an equivalent canadian ticket. We are still very far from complete universality of certification. Seafarers coming out of certain countries have not impressed me one bit, however someone brought up an interesting theory: they could not cut it in thier own country either and came here because they had no where else to go. I hope to think that theory means that the guys I saw are not representative of the true quality of seafarers from the country from which they came.

In reply to Conrod, it has also been my experience so far that all engineers I have met that are under forty years of age have sailed with at least three companies since obtaining thier first ticket and that most guys over forty have been or stayed with the same company for more than ten or fifteen years. Do you think this is based on changes in the realities of the job or on the generation gap?

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Shortage of Engineers

Postby blackhatch » Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:25 am

I hold a 2nd Class ticket, and live in Newfoundland. I can say in total honesty that I receive on average at least one job offer a month. While these are not all "premium positions" somebody has to fill them for the ships to sail. Also I notice, in local newspapers, and on the internet there is a constant demand for 2nd, and 1st Class licence holders, so while there may not be a shortage of engineers, there seems to be a shortage of highly qualified, and capable bodies. BC Ferries contacted me earlier this year, they were looking for 22 2nd Class Licenced Engineers!!!! Not saying you should all quit your jobsd and move, but I think you will find if you went looking it is not hard to find a job in Canada if you have the right qualifications.
Just my thoughts on the subject, not trying to "rock the boat"


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