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Is this the end of the shipping industry for brits?

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  • Is this the end of the shipping industry for brits?

    Since I started my cadetship in 2009 I have been told that the industry goes in cycles and it will pick up again soon.

    That was 11 years ago and things are still getting worse, I now find myself out of work again and i'm beginning to wonder if it is time to forget about the maritime industry and find something else to do.

    With the current situation devastating the offshore and passenger ship sectors and with most other ship types not wanting to hire British seafarers, is this the end of the Merchant Navy?

  • #2
    There are still jobs out there. I have an email from CTRAC today saying RCCL are desperate for 3rd and 2nd engineers, Brits included. Shipping will always be required, British officers will always be required. Sadly it's a case of knowing where to look and knowing people these days... I have friends who have changed jobs in the lockdown period without issue, but there are also plenty stuck like yourself. It really sends mixed messages.

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    • #3
      Tough times in the passenger sector at the moment but I think things will bounce back fairly quickly once restrictions are lifted. Bookings are apparently up massively for next year apparently.

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      • #4
        I think it has always been easier for engineers, and I know it is tough for everyone at the moment but it seems ridiculous for deckies right now.

        Jobs are few and far between and when they come up you must have "xyz" certificates and live 2 hours from "abc" port. Not really possible when you aren't allowed to move house and all training centres are closed.


        I've heard that bookings for cruises are up next year, but also heard that this is due to bookings cancelled this year being re scheduled rather than a genuine increase in demand will have to wait and see what happens, but I'm not holding my breath.

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        • #5
          I qualified in 2015 as a Deck Officer and I'll be honest ever since then it has been a constant struggle to find work. At the time of qualifying the offshore sector was in a slump due to the oil prices, I emailed/called every shipping company I could think of. Jobs were scarce. I was told by more UK based shipping companies than I care to remember that they 'don't hire Brits'. When the odd occasional 3rd/4th Officer role came up it was being hammered by people from the offshore sector with Chief/Master's tickets as they had no work offshore. What chance did a newly qualified Officer have against someone with years of experience and a higher ticket? (This was told to me directly by several recruiters).

          I managed to get a temporary 3 month contract after several months of job hunting, but after that I was back to square one. Eventually I fell lucky and ended up in the passenger sector, but lo and behold this virus has decimated this industry for the time being. Again I have been left on the beach, and it's not any easier this time round even with the qualified Officer experience. The passenger sector isn't hiring, offshore crew remain offshore due to the lockdown and there is very little chance to break into tankers or LPG without a DCE.

          An Unlimited CoC is meant to be valid for any vessel type, this doesn't seem to be the case. If the odd role does come up, you will also find recruiters are mostly expecting experience on a specific vessel type. I put this down to most recruiters not being seafarers, and having no idea what an Unlimited CoC actually means. Looking to move ashore in the maritime industry is also a minefield at the Officer level. A lot of 'junior' roles such as Assistant Superintendent being advertised are asking for a Master's CoC and senior sailing experience.

          I don't think it's the end for the Merchant Navy, but I do think it may be in the twilight days of the British seafarer from my own experience.

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          • #6
            I just saw a news report that said 25% of the world's merchant mariners are Phillipino. Why would a shipping company hire a Brit when they could get a Phillipino for, I asume, a much lower cost? I'm thinking of getting into the industry, but this is giving me second thoughts. In today's global economy, can Brits compete in the long-term?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Bodie View Post
              I just saw a news report that said 25% of the world's merchant mariners are Phillipino. Why would a shipping company hire a Brit when they could get a Phillipino for, I asume, a much lower cost? I'm thinking of getting into the industry, but this is giving me second thoughts. In today's global economy, can Brits compete in the long-term?
              No, how can they compete if the companies are hiring labour at a substantially cheaper cost to fulfil the exact same job.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Guest View Post

                I don't think it's the end for the Merchant Navy, but I do think it may be in the twilight days of the British seafarer from my own experience.
                But without seafarers its not really a merchant navy it's just a flag of convenience

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Guest View Post

                  But without seafarers its not really a merchant navy it's just a flag of convenience
                  It was myself who wrote the long reply. Did you mean to write without British seafarers there instead of seafarers, in relation directly to the British merchant navy? There are tens of thousands of seafarers in the world that comprise the merchant navy. So yes there would be plenty of seafarers left in the merchant navy if there was no Brits left sailing.

                  To Bodie, if I had the choice to do a cadetship again or something else I would have done something else. Don't believe the hype that training agencies and companies tell you about 'every shipping company wanting to hire British Officers'. It really isn't the case. In the last true bastion of British Officers, cruise ships, I have personally seen a steady increase of Eastern European Officers over the last few years in several companies. Fillipinos tend to occupy the Deck crew positions. There will always be niches but I don't see a large scale future for British Officers.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bodie View Post
                    I just saw a news report that said 25% of the world's merchant mariners are Phillipino. Why would a shipping company hire a Brit when they could get a Phillipino for, I asume, a much lower cost? I'm thinking of getting into the industry, but this is giving me second thoughts. In today's global economy, can Brits compete in the long-term?
                    I don't think anyone can deny that it is becoming a more difficult profession for Brits, but I don't think we'll be wiped out completely. Cruise ships, ferries, and offshore still take British Officers, the RFA is entirely British of course, and then there's super yachts. Now is a very bleak time to be looking at any profession really but shipping is resilient and will have bounced back by the time you finish your cadetship so if that's the only thing you're worrying about then you shouldn't let it put you off completely. One thing I would say, when I was applying 10 years ago (wow, where did all that time go?) the advice was apply to everyone and accept anything, getting the cadetship is the important bit. Now I'd say be more selective, go for the companies with a good track record of hiring their cadets so you stand a good chance of landing a job after. So that's Carnival, BP, RFA etc (research the RFA though as it's very different to your traditional shipping companies).

                    I still think Shipping is a fantastic profession to be in, I was at sea six and a half years, came ashore by choice with my Chief Mate Unlimited which has been a huge advantage in the job I'm in now. My batch mates have also had great careers, I've got friends who are Class Surveyors, Pilots, Admiralty Law advisors, Voyage Managers, and plenty still at sea. Think very carefully about whether or not this is the life you want, but if it is then go for it.

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                    • #11
                      Lng bro

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Guest View Post
                        Lng bro
                        I think LNG is hard to get into if you aren't on LNG as a cadet, or they only take newly qualified officers from other ship types, you don't hear of many experienced officers transferring into LNG. Teekay seem to be a company that still has a lot of UK people working for them on LNG, I heard a lot of people have left BP to work for them.

                        There are still jobs for UK people on government funded/owned shipping like Trinity House, Northern Lighthouse Board, Calmac, Northlink, RFA and BAS.

                        In private shipping there are still jobs on private yachts, dredgers, small work boats and on vessels associated with the offshore wind industry whether that is on small CTVs or on larger windfarm jackups like Seajacks and Swire have.

                        Now that offshore and passenger ships have taken a nose dive it will be harder but not impossible to get jobs with the sectors that still hire UK people.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Guest View Post

                          It was myself who wrote the long reply. Did you mean to write without British seafarers there instead of seafarers, in relation directly to the British merchant navy? There are tens of thousands of seafarers in the world that comprise the merchant navy. So yes there would be plenty of seafarers left in the merchant navy if there was no Brits left sailing.

                          To Bodie, if I had the choice to do a cadetship again or something else I would have done something else. Don't believe the hype that training agencies and companies tell you about 'every shipping company wanting to hire British Officers'. It really isn't the case. In the last true bastion of British Officers, cruise ships, I have personally seen a steady increase of Eastern European Officers over the last few years in several companies. Fillipinos tend to occupy the Deck crew positions. There will always be niches but I don't see a large scale future for British Officers.
                          Well its a difficult one to define, I guess i meant the British merchant navy, but what is the British merchant navy? does it include brits on foreign flagged ships or is it all of the ships registered in the UK with no brits on board?

                          If I was considering doing a cadetship now I'd also do something else its ok for a bit of an adventure, but as a career think again.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by perksy121 View Post

                            I don't think anyone can deny that it is becoming a more difficult profession for Brits, but I don't think we'll be wiped out completely. Cruise ships, ferries, and offshore still take British Officers, the RFA is entirely British of course, and then there's super yachts. Now is a very bleak time to be looking at any profession really but shipping is resilient and will have bounced back by the time you finish your cadetship so if that's the only thing you're worrying about then you shouldn't let it put you off completely. One thing I would say, when I was applying 10 years ago (wow, where did all that time go?) the advice was apply to everyone and accept anything, getting the cadetship is the important bit. Now I'd say be more selective, go for the companies with a good track record of hiring their cadets so you stand a good chance of landing a job after. So that's Carnival, BP, RFA etc (research the RFA though as it's very different to your traditional shipping companies).

                            I still think Shipping is a fantastic profession to be in, I was at sea six and a half years, came ashore by choice with my Chief Mate Unlimited which has been a huge advantage in the job I'm in now. My batch mates have also had great careers, I've got friends who are Class Surveyors, Pilots, Admiralty Law advisors, Voyage Managers, and plenty still at sea. Think very carefully about whether or not this is the life you want, but if it is then go for it.
                            I was told the old "it will bounce back by the time you qualify" line over 10 years ago and look where we are now the industry is still in decline.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by open32 View Post

                              I think LNG is hard to get into if you aren't on LNG as a cadet, or they only take newly qualified officers from other ship types, you don't hear of many experienced officers transferring into LNG. Teekay seem to be a company that still has a lot of UK people working for them on LNG, I heard a lot of people have left BP to work for them.

                              There are still jobs for UK people on government funded/owned shipping like Trinity House, Northern Lighthouse Board, Calmac, Northlink, RFA and BAS.

                              In private shipping there are still jobs on private yachts, dredgers, small work boats and on vessels associated with the offshore wind industry whether that is on small CTVs or on larger windfarm jackups like Seajacks and Swire have.

                              Now that offshore and passenger ships have taken a nose dive it will be harder but not impossible to get jobs with the sectors that still hire UK people.
                              Yeah there are still jobs there but you've got guys with a masters ticket and years of experience going for 2nd mates jobs. What chance does anyone with an OOW have??

                              Comment

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