Larger vessels don’t mean larger crews. With modern technology, fewer crew members are needed to operate ships and, of those, fewer are Americans. Ships registered outside the United States are not required to pay seafarers at a scale comparable to American wages and benefits.
Many ships at work for American and multinational corporations fly flags of nations with less rigorous registry requirements, and their crews come from around the globe. Vessels built and registered in the U.S. and those operating solely within U.S. waters, are required to employ American seamen.
Chief Engineer Irly Picau is a modern mariner working on the deck of an ocean tug in a deepwater oil field in the Gulf of Mexico.
Photograph by Brian Gauvin, courtesy of Gauvin Photography