Demand for boats and mariners

We talk a lot about demand for boats. But the workboat industry has a strong demand for something else ­— qualified and skilled people.

Dale DuPont wrote about the demand for skilled people in several workboat sectors in our September issue . Scores of OSVs are still stacked in the Gulf so workers are looking for employment on the rivers, in ports and on land in places like the West Texas oil patch. Demand is high for engineers and chief mates with unlimited tonnage licenses.

“There are more jobs right now than we have mariners,” said Z. David DeLoach, owner of DeLoach Marine Services LLC, a Port Allen, La.-based tug operator.

“The inland sector is robust. There’s a lot more activity on the river,” said Capt. Patrick Senna, recruiter, Compass Marine Inc., a staffing agency in Theodore, Ala. And inland now pays a little better than offshore.

If the Gulf comes back as strong as it was in 2013, “we’re going to have a hard time meeting the demand,” he said. Now that would be a good problem to have.

In the September issue we also touched on the steady interest and need for small boats, especially from the Coast Guard and Navy. Senior Editor Ken Hocke attended the two-day Multi-Agency Craft Conference (MACC) in July and witnessed the enthusiasm for small craft, many of which were at the conference and available for attendees to ride on in Curtis Bay, Md. Several manufacturers were at the conference showing off boats that ranged from patrol/research vessels to fast interceptors to RIBs.

With these small boats needing to be replaced every five-to-seven years, demand for them should stay strong in the foreseeable future.

Another market that has been undergoing a boom in recent years is ferries. The demand for water transit continues to grow, with ferry expansions in New York and San Francisco serving as high-profile examples. Industry observers say ferry ridership is consistently growing across the board in New York and other metropolitan markets, driven by a growing economy, rising housing costs, and public transit and highways that are at their capacity limits.

About the author

David Krapf

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.

2 Comments

  1. It sure does not help that the USCG has decided to put so many restrictions on what kind of vessel you can work on. If you’ve spent years working offshore and another oil crunch comes along, you SHOULD be able to transfer to another sector of the maritime industry (like we all could years ago). There is NO reason to require weeks/months of ‘training’ and expensive schools ashore! All that does is eliminate many good people from the workforce. We will lose our ability to work in ANY sector of the maritime industry and will not be in any position to return when things do get better.
    In other words, the USCG needs to return to allowing mariners to work in ALL sectors of the industry and STOP requiring so many days of sea time on one specific type of vessel in order to keep your documents!

  2. Cedric s Burrell on

    There has been little talk of licensing changes from upgrades to endorsements. Also that the tonnage of vessels will be increased due to metric ton classification. Do you have any knowledge concerning this hearsay? There has been also previous talk of maritime training that will no longer be shorter classes or courses but that any and all recertifications or renewals of training will be completed all at once through a maritime school and for a longer period than past courses has been such as 90 days rather than 1 to 2 week training periods.

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