Maritime industry projects shortage of 150,000 mariners by 2025

Maritime industry projects shortage of mariners by 2025. (KOMO Photo)

SEATTLE - The maritime industry is projecting a shortage of more than 150,000 mariners by 2025. If more seafarers aren’t trained, business and transportation in Washington State will be impacted.

“There’s a looming gap, the average age of the mariner in Washington is 50 years old,” said Sarah Scherer, Associate Dean at Seattle Maritime Academy, part of Seattle Central College.

Captain Paul Anderson has been piloting Washington state ferry boats across Puget Sound for nearly 30 years. He’s part of the 65 percent of ferry captains that will be retiring from the system over the next ten years.

“We don’t have as many captains as we would like,” said Bill Michael who is the Central Region Port Captain for Washington State Ferries. “But we have enough captains to get the job done now.”

The ferry system says they are preparing for a future crew shortage by partnering with the Seattle Maritime Academy to get perspective mariners trained to work and operate Washington’s ferry boats.

“There’s a huge gap and we need to fill it and we are helping provide that opportunity,” said Scherer.

In October, the academy will open a brand new state of the art building that will double capacity for enrollment and also host and contribute in a training program with WSF.

“The return on investment is huge, out program is $9,000 to $10,000 dollars for a little over a year and people start making $40 to $55,000 dollars right out of school,” said Scherer.

The hope is that by training more skilled crews, the ferry system will reduce the projected shortage staff on their vessels.

For more information on the Seattle Maritime Academy and their programs click here.

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