You are here

Survey Results

Survey Results

Current and Past Employment

Based on employment practices within the merchant marine (e.g., crew rotations and extended vacations for shore-side relief ), mariners are very likely to serve in an afloat position and an ashore position within the same calendar year. In fact, about one out of five (18%) of respondents to the

2001 Mariner Survey reported that they had been employed in both an afloat and an ashore position at the time they completed the survey.

Afloat Positions. In describing their employment, about two-thirds (68%) of all mariners reported that they worked in an afloat job either full- or part-time in 2000 (see chart 1).

The majority of both UL Holders and Other Mariners working in afloat positions were most likely to be in deep-sea, coastwise domestic, inland waterway/river, or Great Lakes positions (see chart 2). Only 13% of UL Holders and 25% of Other Mariners were assigned to oil/gas/minerals exploration, recreation, or fishing positions.

UL Holders (44%) were much more likely than Other Mariners (24%) to report that they were in a deep-sea position at the time they completed the survey.

Ashore Positions. The long shore-side relief periods typical of deep-sea employment resulted in mariners with afloat positions also holding shore-side jobs. About 40% of all mariners reported that they were in an ashore position at the time of the survey (see chart 3). UL Holders (47%) were significantly more likely than Other Mariners (33%) to report that their ashore position was maritime-related, while Other Mariners were significantly more likely to report that their position was not maritime-related. (Of those mariners selecting "Other," many reported that they were retired, unemployed, or in school.)

Deep-Sea Positions. While the majority of both UL Holders (69%) and Other Mariners (59%) reported that they have served on a U.S. Flag deep-sea crew, UL Holders were significantly more likely than Other Mariners to have done so (see chart 4). In assessing the recency of their experience on a U.S. Flag deep-sea vessel, mariners reported as follows:

  • 38% of UL Holders and 36% of Other Mariners have service in the past year;
  • an additional 25% of UL Holders and 34% of Other Mariners have service that occurred 2-5 years ago; and,
  • 37% of UL Holders and 30% of Other Mariners have service that occurred more than 5 years ago.

U.S. Coast Guard Licensing

Seven U.S. Coast Guard Regional Examination Centers (out of 17 possible sites) provided the most recent license or merchant mariner documents for 72% of UL Holders and 65% of Other Mariners (see chart 5).

While there were no significant differences for four of these centers (Seattle, Toledo, Baltimore, and Miami), there were significant differences for the remaining three. Specifically, UL Holders were significantly more likely than Other Mariners to report Boston and New York as the site of their most recent licensure, while Other Mariners were significantly more likely to report that they received their most recent license or documents from the U.S. Coast Guard Center in New Orleans.

Mariner Training

The majority of UL Holders (79%) and about half (47%) of Other Mariners reported that they attended a maritime training school in order to meet part or all of the requirements for obtaining a U.S. Coast Guard license or merchant mariner’s document (MMD or Z-Card).

Of those mariners who attended a maritime training school, UL Holders (69%) were much more likely than Other Mariners (18%) to have attended at least one of seven maritime academies to obtain their documents (see chart 6). Conversely, compared with UL Holders, Other Mariners (53%) were much more likely to have attended a school that was not among the list of schools included in the questionnaire.

International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping (STCW-95) Certificate

At the time of the survey, 45% of UL Holders and only 29% of Other Mariners reported that they held an STCW-95 certificate (see chart 7). Of those mariners who did not hold a certificate, only 40% of UL Holders and 30% of Other Mariners planned to attend specialized training designed to meet the STCW-95 requirements.

Additional analysis shows that mariners who were working in a deep-sea position at the time of the survey were much more likely to hold an STCW-95 certificate. Those mariners in deep-sea positions who did not have a certificate at the time of the survey were much more likely to report that they intended to complete training designed to meet the STCW-95 requirements.

As shown in table 2, of the 34% of UL Holders who did not hold a certificate at the time of the survey, 80% planned to attend training to obtain the certificate, which would result in an additional 27% of UL Holders with certificates (34% x 80% = 27%). Assuming that these mariners follow through with the required training, eventually 92% (65% who have a certificate + 27% who will obtain one) of UL Holders who were in a deep-sea position at the time of the survey could meet the requirements for the STCW-95 certificate.

Using the same methodology, eventually 78% of Other Mariners who were in deep-sea positions at the time of the survey could meet the requirements for an STCW-95 certificate.

Availability During National Defense Emergency

About two-thirds of both UL Holders (68%) and Other Mariners (66%) reported that they would be available to take an afloat position in the event of a national defense emergency (see chart 8).

Of those mariners indicating that they would be available, the majority (77% of UL Holders and 73% of Other Mariners) reported that they could serve in an afloat position for at least 90 days or more (see chart 9).

The most frequently given reasons for not being able to serve during a national defense emergency were current employment and family situations (see chart 10).

Reemployment Rights

Mariners were asked whether the legal right to return to their regular job would make serving in an afloat position during times of emergency more likely (see chart 11). Compared to Other Mariners (48%), UL Holders (54%) were more likely to report that reemployment rights could make it more likely for them to serve in an afloat position in an emergency situation.

Of all mariners who reported that they would not be available to serve in an emergency crewing crisis,

16% indicated that reemployment rights could make them more likely to serve.

Locating Mariners

The U.S. Coast Guard’s MMLD database was used to select the sample for the 2001 Mariner Survey. However, the MMLD was never intended for use as a means of contacting mariners, so address information was known to be out-dated or incomplete. Therefore, a major focus of the mariner survey effort was to determine the feasibility of using the MMLD as a means for locating and contacting mariners in times of a National Defense emergency, which is a primary concern of MARAD.

Based on the current sample, it is reasonable to assume that at least half of the current population of mariners with documents appropriate for deep-sea service could be reached by using the information in the MMLD if the database is routinely updated based on postal system files and both mail and phone contacts are attempted.

Methodology. The study included several steps both before and during data collection to increase the likelihood of locating merchant mariners selected for our sample. Before actually drawing the sample, we subjected the 104,000+ database to a crosscheck with the U.S. Postal Service’s National Change of Address file. After completing the crosscheck, we found that 25% of the addresses in the MMLD did not match the postal system file and 33% of the phone numbers in the MMLD were changed or updated.

Despite this crosscheck, 1,035 surveys were returned as undeliverable by the postal system. Prior to the second mailing, 500 envelopes that had been returned as undeliverable were selected as a test case for using the Internet to obtain new addresses. After 48 person-hours of effort, 93 new addresses were obtained. In addition, the postal system had returned 35 envelopes with a forwarding address given, but the forwarding order had expired, thus requiring remailing. These 128 test cases were included in the second mailing.

Results for the Internet-obtained addresses and the forwarding addresses were somewhat disappointing (see table 3). Although we had obtained what appeared to be correct new addresses, we still had undeliverables and the noncontact rate for both groups (57% and 63%) was much higher than for the total sample (26%). It appears that Internet searches and relying on forwarding addresses are not very cost-effective methods for locating mariners.

In an additional effort to capture how reliable the MMLD database was, mariners who completed the survey were asked to review the address and phone number information printed on the survey and to provide corrections as needed. Of those mariners who completed a survey, 15% reported some correction to their mailing address and over 20% reported a correction to their phone number (see chart 12).

As a final effort to contact as many mariners as possible, we conducted phone interviews with a sample of the nonrespondents with two goals in mind:

  • To determine how difficult it would be to contact mariners by phone, and
  • To explore whether there are attitudinal differences between respondents and nonrespondents.

At the beginning of the telephone data collection, we had heard nothing from about 5,500 mariners of whom about 4,000 had a phone number listed in the database. Taking into account available funds, time constraints, and an anticipated response rate of at least 35% (which is comparable to other national phone surveys), a sample size of 2,000 was selected. The sample included 800 UL Holders and 1,200 Other Mariners. Dispositions for the telephone survey are shown in table 4.

Final Contact Rate. The phone and mail survey efforts resulted in the following:

  • 5,270 of the 10,000 mariners in our sample were located (not all were respondents).
  • 2,163 mariners were classified as known incorrect addresses/and or phone numbers.
    • 1,499 mariners with incorrect addresses (returned as undeliverable by the postal system).
    • 664 mariners with incorrect phone numbers (disconnected, etc).
  • 2,567 mariners were classified as "Other" nonrespondents—that is we don’t know if the questionnaire reached them because nothing was returned by the postal system or the phone was never answered.