Capt. Max HardbergerCapt. Max Hardberger
Max Hardberger is a maritime attorney, flight instructor, writer, and maritime repo man. He has been a correspondent for WorkBoat since 1995. His memoir, Seized: A Sea Captain’s Adventures Battling Scoundrels and Pirates While Recovering Stolen Ships in the World’s Most Troubled Waters, was published by Broadway Books in 2010. He’s appeared on FOX, The Learning Channel, National Public Radio and the BBC, and has been the subject of articles in Fairplay Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Men’s Journal, Esquire (UK), and the London Sunday Guardian.

Blog Activity

A new level of mariner comfort

It's never been more comfortable to go to sea.   Mariners may argue about pay rates, the burdens of licensing and regulatory compliance, and the right ways to do their difficult and demanding jobs, but there’s one thing they don’t argue about: the level of comfort found on today’s commercial vessels. I’m speaking from experience going back almost 50 years, from a deckhand on creaky old standby boats to master of creaky old ocean freighters, so I can write without fear of...

Chinese shipbuilding reaches another milestone

The announcement that the Chinese are not only manufacturing a high-tech, low-speed engine to a European design but will be its sole manufacturer, signifies a milestone in China’s hegemony in the shipbuilding industry. What a difference a lifetime makes. Many years ago, when I was in the business of buying and selling freighters, it was understood that the only engines worth having were European — not just European but Northern European. British, French (shudder) and Italian (violent...

LNG OSVs hit the U.S. Gulf

The Feb. 25 delivery of the Harvey Energy, a 310’ OSV, was the result of a three-year effort on the part of the owner, designers and builders to meet the myriad challenges presented by use of liquified natural gas as a bunker fuel. In our cover story in the upcoming April issue of WorkBoat, “Gassed Up,” I describe the newest innovation in offshore service vessels — the use of liquefied natural gas as bunker fuel. The Feb. 25 delivery of the Harvey Energy, a 310’ OSV, was the result...

Electronic surveillance and the mariner

Because the professional lives of mariners are so tightly controlled by the Coast Guard, they may be even more closely monitored than ordinary citizens. The shocked reactions to today’s news that the Drug Enforcement Administration (and presumably every other government agency) is collecting data on the movements of millions of cars around the U.S. through the simple expedient of computer-monitored license-plate tracking are somewhat naive. With satellite and cellphone tracking and...

Mariners and marijuana: A moral perspective

Mariners continue to suffer more than the rest of the population from unfair and illogical Coast Guard drug enforcement policies.The federal government is going to have to do something about marijuana’s legal status. The same situation, involving alcohol, was resolved in the 1930s with the repeal of Prohibition (happily, marijuana prohibitionists never managed to pass a constitutional amendment). But while the Justice Department dithers and issues conflicting guidelines to federal...

Panama Canal PR department is working overtime

The Panama Canal Authority has made another seemingly worthless announcement.The Panama Canal Authority’s newly bloated publicity department has now cranked out another in its meaningless series of press releases meant to convey the impression of activity (see last week’s blog on the subject). Following on the heels of a press release about a non-Canal-related drayage business in Panama, the PCA announced on Jan. 8 that it had signed a “cooperation agreement” (whatever that is) with the...

When a canal is not a canal

Maritime blogging is usually a serious business but occasionally chucklers come along and a recent press release from the Panama Canal Board of Directors provides a few. Maritime blogging is usually a serious business but occasionally chucklers come along and a recent press release from the Panama Canal Board of Directors provides a few. The release boldly announced that the Panama Canal is expanding its capacities in spite of the contractual, technical and political difficulties plaguing...

Nicaragua canal revisited

The ennui with which the Nicaragua canal project has been greeted by political and shipping interests is remarkable.As a testament to the resiliency of the world’s strongest economy, the much-maligned and often-doubted Nicaragua canal is moving forward. Ground was broken on the canal last week, according to a number of international reports, but whether the project will result in a completed Atlantic-Pacific canal, much less by the projected completion date of 2020 — an almost-laughable...

Vessel operators and foreign corrupt practices

It can be easy to view corruption as just part of the cost of doing business. There is even a view that corruption is business friendly since it sometimes greases the wheels of obstructive bureaucracy.It can be easy to view corruption as just part of the cost of doing business. There is even a view that corruption is business friendly since it sometimes greases the wheels of obstructive bureaucracy.In any event, a workboat operator who wants to operate in Third World countries should be...

Hardcore heroes and WorkBoat writers

An episode of the “Hardcore Heroes” series on AHC will profile me. Of course, the “heroes” part, when applied to me, is rank puffery.A year ago, shortly after returning from Somalia, I taped some interviews with a Discovery Channel producer and gave the OK for an episode about me on the “Hardcore Heroes” series on AHC (formerly the Military Channel). The episode will air Aug. 20 (at 10:00 p.m. ET/9:00 p.m. CT) so I thought I would give it a review for my WorkBoat readers. The episode...