Commercial shipbuilding - why not in the UK?

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
No. I was only there for two trips. They took me on as a cadet in my last year of college on their new R/O scheme. I did an 8 month Gulf-Europe trip, had 8 months leave as they couldn't find me a ship and did another trip as 2R/O. Spent another 4 months on leave and got tired of it so I moved to Sea Containers.

I got a silver BP coin for Betty's 1977 Jubilee though.

the days of slow steaming and ‘do you fancy a desk Job at Big Panic House?
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
I’m still waiting to hear how we’ll man this new expanded Merchant Navy.

manning was an increasing issue even back in the 70’s when shipping lines employed their own staff on proper contracts with very generous pay and allowances. people wouldn’t stay, maybe 1 in 10 would stick it past 10 years. Want a life, it wasn't at sea matey.

now? pretty much everyone is with wait for a phone call offshore manning agencies, and business class flights, 4 star weeks long hotel stop overs and 4 months off on full pay for every 8 on a fading fable only the old and bolds speak of....
Some agencies will reimburse you the cost of an economy class flight to meet a ship, but many won’t, want a job? get there yourself.
And with an agency, you’re responsible for your own tax/NI in whichever domicile You have, your own sickness insurance and no one contributes to your own pension.
Its why shipping companies love them, zero in house manning costs - Labour is a fixed commoditised operating cost which you can shop around for the lowest rate.

it’s not an attractive career none more. why pay top rates when the industry Benchmark is very well trained Indian Officers who cost the same for a Chief as a European 4th, and well trained Phillipino crew who work for less than the U.K. minimum wage.

look at the RFA, probably the nearest thing to a ‘good’ Merchant Navy employer in the U.K. Proper paid leave, pensions, sick pay etc, but even it has a problem with manning.
 
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endure

GCM
Still waiting to hear how this new Merchant Fleet will be manned....
You and me mate. One of us whose job disappeared 25 years ago and the other who can't tell one end of a spanner from the other ;)
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
You and me mate. One of us whose job disappeared 25 years ago and the other who can't tell one end of a spanner from the other ;)

I think you left before the true magnificence of the ‘cost saving’ measures re wiggly electrickery things came in.
 

endure

GCM
I think you left before the true magnificence of the ‘cost saving’ measures re wiggly electrickery things came in.
I certainly did. Becoming an ETO would have meant going down the pit every day :eek:

My first boss on British Progress became an ETO after they abolished Sparkies and stayed at sea until he retired.
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
I certainly did. Becoming an ETO would have meant going down the pit every day :eek:

My first boss on British Progress became an ETO after they abolished Sparkies and stayed at sea until he retired.

abolishing sparkies, aye, was a genius move.
what’s that? while I was a dab hand with big grubby generators and electrical motors, my sum total knowledge of that stuff that bleeped or went round and round upstairs was pointing at it and announcing ‘its broken’
 

Yokel

LE
You and me mate. One of us whose job disappeared 25 years ago and the other who can't tell one end of a spanner from the other ;)

Still waiting to hear how this new Merchant Fleet will be manned....


I know anecdotes do not really count, but a couple of years ago I bumped into an old mate, someone I had not seen for fifteen years or so. When I asked him what he did, he said he worked in oil tankers in the Caribbean.

Anyway - according to the People chapter of the Maritime 2050 paper

Historically, the UK has grown much of its own talent and has kept a nucleus of highly trained and highly respected personnel, giving the UK a leading edge in its maritime work both at sea and at home.

Regarding roles at sea, seafaring continues to be an important career of choice in the UK, with an estimated 23,760 UK seafarers in 201798. Just over half of these were officers, with a further 1,830 cadets in training. Numbers appear to have stabilised in recent years but there has been an overall downward trend across the past 15 years.


The chapter then goes on to say:

The UK maritime sector will be a vibrant place of employment. We will have worked collectively to arrest the decline in UK seafarers and the sector will attract technically astute individuals into a range of roles both on land and at sea.
 

endure

GCM
I know anecdotes do not really count, but a couple of years ago I bumped into an old mate, someone I had not seen for fifteen years or so. When I asked him what he did, he said he worked in oil tankers in the Caribbean.

Anyway - according to the People chapter of the Maritime 2050 paper

Historically, the UK has grown much of its own talent and has kept a nucleus of highly trained and highly respected personnel, giving the UK a leading edge in its maritime work both at sea and at home.

Regarding roles at sea, seafaring continues to be an important career of choice in the UK, with an estimated 23,760 UK seafarers in 201798. Just over half of these were officers, with a further 1,830 cadets in training. Numbers appear to have stabilised in recent years but there has been an overall downward trend across the past 15 years.


The chapter then goes on to say:

The UK maritime sector will be a vibrant place of employment. We will have worked collectively to arrest the decline in UK seafarers and the sector will attract technically astute individuals into a range of roles both on land and at sea.
"There are around 280,000 students who graduate from maritime schools every year.[1] In 1996, it was estimated that there were more than 250,000 Filipino seafarers;[5] in 2013, that number has been estimated to have increased to about 460,000.[6] Filipinos employed as seamen worldwide, more than any other nationality.[5]"

 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
The chapter then goes on to say:

The UK maritime sector will be a vibrant place of employment. We will have worked collectively to arrest the decline in UK seafarers and the sector will attract technically astute individuals into a range of roles both on land and at sea.

They are living in a fools paradise.

BP no longer use the UK as is issuing authority for Certificates of Competency, they now use India.

And who's going to employ a freshly minted British Engineer Officer when you can have an experienced Indian 3rd Engineer for £500/month, and they work 8 on 4 off, and you don't get the massive churn?
 

Yokel

LE
Cynical old geezers!

National Statistics - Seafarers in the UK Shipping Industry: 2019

In 2019:
  • an estimated 22,440 UK seafarers were active at sea
  • around half of the total UK seafarers active at sea were working as officers (10,320 certificated and 1,310 uncertificated)
  • 1,670 officer cadets were in training
  • there were 800 new entrants under the SMarT1 scheme

Careers at sea - about us

A prestigious past… an exciting future

From an old heritage to the age of ultra-modern cargo and container ships today’s commercial shipping fleets span the globe, using the latest technologies and transporting over 90% of the world’s trade. Specially designed vessels that support the oil and gas industries and colossal bulk carriers made for ore, grain and coal. And of course, world-class cruise liners and large commercial yachts.

Collectively, they make up the commercial shipping industry. You’ll probably know it as the Merchant Navy. And it could be your passage to qualifications, technical skills and a lifelong career filled with adventure.


Packed with resources, our Careers at Sea website is your first port of call to being part of 21st-century seafaring. You’ll be able to find out about roles at sea, Merchant Navy training courses and the maritime sponsoring companies that could steer your journey to becoming a seafarer. The world is your oyster. It’s time to discover it.

----​

Careers at Sea is part of the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB), which in turn sits within the UK Chamber of Shipping. The MNTB works right across the UK to champion maritime education, training and skills. Your studies at a nautical college or university will be based on an MNTB framework. And it’s thanks to them that British seafarers are known the world over for their professionalism and skills.

Look out for news, events and information on our Careers at Sea website. Check the MNTB out on social media. Or visit their website to find out more.
 

endure

GCM
Cynical old geezers!

National Statistics - Seafarers in the UK Shipping Industry: 2019

In 2019:
  • an estimated 22,440 UK seafarers were active at sea
  • around half of the total UK seafarers active at sea were working as officers (10,320 certificated and 1,310 uncertificated)
  • 1,670 officer cadets were in training
  • there were 800 new entrants under the SMarT1 scheme

Careers at sea - about us

A prestigious past… an exciting future

From an old heritage to the age of ultra-modern cargo and container ships today’s commercial shipping fleets span the globe, using the latest technologies and transporting over 90% of the world’s trade. Specially designed vessels that support the oil and gas industries and colossal bulk carriers made for ore, grain and coal. And of course, world-class cruise liners and large commercial yachts.

Collectively, they make up the commercial shipping industry. You’ll probably know it as the Merchant Navy. And it could be your passage to qualifications, technical skills and a lifelong career filled with adventure.



Packed with resources, our Careers at Sea website is your first port of call to being part of 21st-century seafaring. You’ll be able to find out about roles at sea, Merchant Navy training courses and the maritime sponsoring companies that could steer your journey to becoming a seafarer. The world is your oyster. It’s time to discover it.

----​

Careers at Sea is part of the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB), which in turn sits within the UK Chamber of Shipping. The MNTB works right across the UK to champion maritime education, training and skills. Your studies at a nautical college or university will be based on an MNTB framework. And it’s thanks to them that British seafarers are known the world over for their professionalism and skills.

Look out for news, events and information on our Careers at Sea website. Check the MNTB out on social media. Or visit their website to find out more.


Did you miss this?

"In 1996, it was estimated that there were more than 250,000 Filipino seafarers;[5] in 2013, that number has been estimated to have increased to about 460,000.[6]"

Couple of dits - one I've told before.

Back in the 80s I used to sail with Filipino crew. One of them was a bosun who was earning about 60% of what his British counterpart earned.

He was 35 and he'd been at sea since he was 20. In that time he'd put 2 sisters through university, bought his Dad a farm and bought himself a duplex apartment in Metro Manila.

He intended to retire when he was 40. The Philippines is full of people like him who are willing to work their bollocks off for what we would consider not very much.

Second dit is about the attitude of the Brit officers of the time.

At the time there were no Filipino officers only crew. Chatting in the bar with the other officers I asked why as they were good seamen.

The smug complacent answer came back that they'd never make good officers like we Brits as we were an island nation and thus natural seafarers. This was said without a hint of irony or perhaps the bloke who said it didn't realise that the Philippines is a nation made up of 6000+ islands.

Others weren't quite so sniffy. The Philippines now turns out well qualified and competent officers by the bucketload.

"The Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP) was established on January 14, 1998 at Kamaya Point, Alas-asin, Mariveles, Bataan, in an 18-hectare (44-acre) land. It was founded by Capt. Gregorio S. Oca, an alumnus of Philippine Nautical School (presently Philippine Merchant Marine Academy), chairman of the Associated Marine Officers and Seamen's Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP). Its inauguration on November 6, 1999 was attended by Philippine President Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

It is run by a governing board from the AMOSUP, the private sectors, the Danish Shipowners Association, the Norwegian Shipowners Association, the Japanese Shipowners Association, the All Japan Seamens' Union, the International Worker's Transport Federation, the International Maritime Employees Committee, and the Filipino Association of Mariner's Employment."

 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
cynical old geezers!

Very.

I really wonder if any of the people who write these reports actually have any idea of the reality for a life at sea for 99% of seafarers these days?

Even in the 70's, the thing that made things bearable were big all UK crews, so at least you had lots of people with something in common - and plenty of gentlemen's reading matter to share around, and the nightly piss up in the bar - now history - and stop overs, sometimes for weeks, in a good hotel on expenses. And a small product tanker could be on stopover discharging in a decent port for a week.
These days? Runs ashore? GTFOH! Even if the place is halfway civilised, you're usually in and out on the next tide, you might get a walk up the jetty to the Seamen's Mission for a natter and a meal, but that's it.
Tiny Crews of All Nations - so even if you bump into someone off shift, there often really isn't much, and there can be some real and unpleasant friction between some nationalities. You have to pass a breathalyser to be on duty after some American biffed his tanker into Alaska, so Many operators now run dry ships. Stop overs? Only on your own coin, the ships held up or goes into dry dock, NFC you will be booked into a 4* hotel on expenses goofing off for 6 weeks, you're let go unless you are very lucky with your employer.
Mental health issues are rampant across the industry. Nautilus puts it @ 45% of seamen have mental health issues due to very long hours, isolation, and pressure to perform or be gone, with suicides now all too common.

TACOS? Not attractive - £30-35k as a 3E? Nope, not in a Job were dropping the ball loses you your tickets and career. And the days of the Chief telling you off and that was it when you cocked up are long gone. You're all manning agency now, and the Shipping Company will do everything it can to hang you to avoid any liability if anything goes wrong. The legal and legislative liability’s of the job are off the scale, accidentally pump contaminated water over the side? A huge fine at best, and you can very easily end up in jail. And even if yiu do get steady contacts, a change of mood at the Shipping company, and it’s don’t come back, we’re going somewhere elsewhere cheaper.

The wages? no better that I was getting in the 70’s when the cost of living was very much lower, minus an expense account, unlimited full sick pay, a non contributory final salary pension, all training free, and a company Hospital staffed with Harley Streets finest, and lots of paid leave, all on a permanent UK contract of employment.
and no, you won’t see any wage inflation in the MN, the trends been relentlessly downwards since 1986. With Indian 3rds @£6k, a U.K. 3rd on £35k isn’t going to get a look in except on the very high value, very expensive to insure specialist trades like LNG tankers.

I loved every minute of my time, but as a seagoing career for U.K. nationals, the Merchant Navy died in 1986.
Ive been asked back a few times, had a look, nope, it’s nothing like it used to be - all the funs gone. It’s just a very high pressure, high turnover, high stress job now.
 
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bob231

War Hero
In that case, and this is a genuinely meant question, is there any meaningful future for British Merchant Mariners, as opposed to RFA/RN?
 
In that case, and this is a genuinely meant question, is there any meaningful future for British Merchant Mariners, as opposed to RFA/RN?

There is still some work in the offshore sector, I have known of a few people working on passenger ships and the odd specialist vessel (e.g. Trinity House) employing British seamen but the days of company fleets of the usual commercial ships; bulk carriers, tankers, container ships etc. employing lots of Brits are long gone. I have a nephew who works on a small UK owned tanker trading around the Caribbean but they are few and far between. I have been on a lot of different ships over the last 50 years and have not come across very many British crews in the last 25 - 30. Russians and other East Europeans, Filipino, Indian and Chinese but very few Brits. The last time I went aboard a British flag ship was probably about 10-12 years ago, the Master was Polish.
 
There is still some work in the offshore sector, I have known of a few people working on passenger ships and the odd specialist vessel (e.g. Trinity House) employing British seamen but the days of company fleets of the usual commercial ships; bulk carriers, tankers, container ships etc. employing lots of Brits are long gone. I have a nephew who works on a small UK owned tanker trading around the Caribbean but they are few and far between. I have been on a lot of different ships over the last 50 years and have not come across very many British crews in the last 25 - 30. Russians and other East Europeans, Filipino, Indian and Chinese but very few Brits. The last time I went aboard a British flag ship was probably about 10-12 years ago, the Master was Polish.
My son got his ETO ticket in 2016 and worked for a large Singapore based shipping company in the offshore supply sector for a couple of years. According to him, most of their officers were British at that time, and he says he only met one Filipino officer (who he highly rated). The rest of his year are scattered around mainly the offshore sector and the cruise sector (well, they were).
I also have two very good friends who work for Shell and who both have Master's tickets. These were a prerequisite for the jobs that they do, and Shell made sure that they had the right type and quantity of sea time to get them qualified.
 
My son got his ETO ticket in 2016 and worked for a large Singapore based shipping company in the offshore supply sector for a couple of years. According to him, most of their officers were British at that time, and he says he only met one Filipino officer (who he highly rated). The rest of his year are scattered around mainly the offshore sector and the cruise sector (well, they were).
I also have two very good friends who work for Shell and who both have Master's tickets. These were a prerequisite for the jobs that they do, and Shell made sure that they had the right type and quantity of sea time to get them qualified.

As I said there is some work in the offshore sector and passenger ships. I can't speak for Shell, only a general view gained from my own experience.
 

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