Quality ship operator in Canada?

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The Dieselduck
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Quality ship operator in Canada?

Postby The Dieselduck » Wed Mar 08, 2017 5:41 am

I was asked if I could offer some advice about finding a quality ship operator in Canada. Quality to me, means that you feel good about working with them, you have the resources and the backing to do your job well and safely, which would also mean for a long time down the road. I.E. You don't feel like quitting after every hitch, your not cutting corners, you don't have to ask for toilet paper (yes, that has happened to me) you're not afraid to take apart a pump to fix it, knowing you have the resources to fix it properly.

I can be a bit depressing, and I am coming up on the end of my six week at sea, so take the comments below with a grain of salt, but let me know what you think, pros and cons.


Q. I have followed your website and blogs intermittently for many years, and I see many similarities between our career choices such as: Coast Guard, Fisheries, tugs, and deep sea. I also have many of the same frustrations with the Canadian marine industry and Transport Canada certification system. Do you have any recommendations for employment opportunities in Ontario or Quebec? Should I try McKeil?


A. Yes, to work in the Canadian Marine Industry is a bit of a masochistic exercise, as my twenty years at sea will attest to. You say, you can’t find a quality operator in Canada, well neither have I. The closest, from my outside observations is probably Oceanex, but past performance is no indication of future performance, and management changed about 8 yrs ago, but they seem to be consistent still.

McKeil has recently changed ownership from what I understand, which can only mean worse than before, since at least before you could approach the owner and he was a real person. They are short of people for sure, but the management there are either suckers for punishment, or making allot of money and therefore make unrealistic demands on performance. Desgagnes is mostly owned by banks, and their only priority is money, they are cheap and disrespectful; Groupe Ocean is too small. CSL and Algoma, well, what can you say, they are cheap, cheap, and if they could, they would probably charge you for the pleasure of working for them, kinda of like Seaspan. I am not sure about Atlantic Towing, I think they pay well, but I’m not a fan of their social standing in Canada… their Oligarch attitude is a bit much. Switzer is on the up and coming in Canada (again), but because of their size (being part of Maersk) they compete on global stage and will balk at paying a Canadian living wage, so they will probably get foreign crews before long, shoreside I think they already are.

Not sure about Marine Atlantic, and there is a bunch of smaller operators all across the country that offer interesting work, but because of their size, pay and stability is an issue. From what I can tell the money and jobs is offshore NF and NS, but these positions, with Maersk, Secunda, etc, and the O&G crewing (for the few position on the many FOC vessels working in Canada), are rife with nepotism so quality is an issue. Teekay might be the bright spot there, but then again there is a rich history in that market, and certainly a lot of legal formalities, but with your NF background this may not be a hindrance.

With all that commentary, one has to ask, are we being realistic about “quality”… does it exist? I would say yes, and the closest company I came to, that had it, was Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, but then again they didn’t pay. Mostly because of the nature of their workforce, which don’t need to pay income taxes in their home countries, unlike Canadians. Another words, I have work for a quality operator, and I don’t see many of those traits here in Canada.
Martin Leduc
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http://www.dieselduck.net

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JollyJack
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Re: Quality ship operator in Canada?

Postby JollyJack » Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:04 pm

My advice, if you have an STCW 2010 Certificate of Competence, is to seek work overseas, FOC if necessary. There are only 80-odd Canadian flagged ships in international trade, and all are on the bottom end of the PSC rating. This can be confirmed on the Paris MOU and Tokyo MOU web sites.
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marineprojectgroup
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Re: Quality ship operator in Canada?

Postby marineprojectgroup » Tue May 16, 2017 5:56 pm

There used to be dozens of UK manning agents that Canadians could find work through. But now they have all disappeared or they never seem to have any requirements. In my background on VLCC / Aframax tankers, there has not been a vacancy advertised on any of those UK manning sites for at least 8 years and there are no opportunities for Canadians at all.
Recently met a fellow tankerman at a training course. He was a recent immigrant to canada and had been looking for a job, any job anywhere in the world on any type of ship for the last 3 years with not even an interview.
30 years ago an old timer warned me this was going to happen, opportunities for westerners will dry up, I did not believe him.
Then at BCIT a few month ago I see several dozen Cadets all with great expectations in their eyes, I feel badly for them as they have no future of any kind in the marine industry.
To any young person I repeat was i was told 30 years ago - do NOT choose the sea as a career.

LEKXIE
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Re: Quality ship operator in Canada?

Postby LEKXIE » Thu May 18, 2017 6:32 pm

marineprojectgroup wrote:There used to be dozens of UK manning agents that Canadians could find work through. But now they have all disappeared or they never seem to have any requirements. In my background on VLCC / Aframax tankers, there has not been a vacancy advertised on any of those UK manning sites for at least 8 years and there are no opportunities for Canadians at all.
Recently met a fellow tankerman at a training course. He was a recent immigrant to canada and had been looking for a job, any job anywhere in the world on any type of ship for the last 3 years with not even an interview.
30 years ago an old timer warned me this was going to happen, opportunities for westerners will dry up, I did not believe him.
Then at BCIT a few month ago I see several dozen Cadets all with great expectations in their eyes, I feel badly for them as they have no future of any kind in the marine industry.
To any young person I repeat was i was told 30 years ago - do NOT choose the sea as a career.


Thanks for this post, it’s a real eye opener. I have been accepted to Marine engineering Technician program at Georgian college, I really do love marine engineering but posts like yours make me think again. I am 38 years old, presently working as a process operator in a chemical company and earning 25/hour. I am a new immigrant to Canada.
I always thought finishing the cadet program will most likely lead to getting employed, Georgian college for instance claim they have almost 100% cadet placement for internship and that most internships lead to permanent role.
What will your advice be for someone like me? Do you think it is a career still worth pursuing or it’s all gloom and doom now? I don’t want to end up neck deep in debt with student loan and not able to find a job afterwards. I do have a degree in Chemistry but do really love marine engineering. Thanks

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JollyJack
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Re: Quality ship operator in Canada?

Postby JollyJack » Wed May 24, 2017 3:36 pm

LEKXIE, do NOT waste your money on the vague promise of a job 3 years away. Of course Cadets are always placed on ships as interns, companies don't have to pay interns, so free labour is always welcome. CETA, the Canada/Europe Trade Agreement, coming into effect later this year, will allow EU flagged ships to trade within Canada. (Including the Great Lakes) ALL EU flags have a "second register" which allows third world crews, (UK, for example, is Isle of Man) so if you are willing to work for about $20 a day, go for it. If not, use your Degree, stay with the $25 an hour, you're far better off.
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