Capt. Alan Bernstein
Alan Bernstein, owner of BB Riverboats in Cincinnati, is a licensed master and a former president of the Passenger Vessel Association. He can be reached at 859-292-2449 or email@example.com.
Eliminate barriers for mariners
February 5, 2013
We must attract more young mariners
to our profession and do everything we can to retain them.
The maritime community continues to
have a difficult time with recruitment and retention. The pool of potential new
mariners is shrinking and operators are competing with each other and
land-based companies for this dwindling worker pool.
Is the pool shrinking because young
people are uninterested or unmotivated? No. The big problem is a regulatory
environment that simply makes mariner careers unattractive when compared to
other professions. Just look at our licensing system, which is slow,
complicated and cumbersome. While the Coast Guard’s National Maritime Center
(NMC) has made great progress processing mariner applications, they still need
to tackle the difficult challenge of modernizing and streamlining licensing
Safety of our vessels and passengers
is paramount and a well-trained crew is a necessity. Yet we continue to put up roadblocks,
such as the boondoggle TWIC card, that make it difficult for young people to
enter our profession. If we are lucky enough to attract a young person, a
cumbersome system makes it hard for them to get and keep their documents and
For example, an individual in my
company was trying to renew his license for the second time. The NMC kept
asking for more and more information that could have been requested at the
start of the process. NMC doctors requested a litany of tests that our
employee’s health insurance will not pay for. As a result, he had to pay for
these things out of his own pocket to ensure that he would not be in a position
to lose work because his license renewal was pending.
How many young mariners can afford
to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to work in the maritime industry?
At some point, they will simply do the math and decide that another line of
work is more attractive. Our industry simply cannot allow this to happen.