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5 Ways Specialist Contractors Keep the Maritime Industry Running

  • Written by Mike Tann
  • 17/03/2022
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Over 1.6 million workers are currently at sea, and the worldwide demand for officers and specialist crew reveals a shortage of approximately 16,500 employees (Source: ICS Shipping). 

With a surplus of around 190,000 ratings, maritime firms have two options:

  1. Set sail without the right qualifications on board – and risk regulatory fines.
  2. Hire contractors to fill leadership positions, working with recruiters to build their crew.

Though many hiring managers would prefer to fill gaps permanently onboard, talent shortages complicate maritime recruitment. In 2022, more often than not, qualified candidates are preferring to become contractors – benefiting from the variety of opportunities the industry brings.


(Source: Gov UK)

The Benefits of Being A Maritime Contractor

In general, contractors experience higher work flexibility compared to full-time employees, and certified maritime crew members have begun to recognize the power of short-term placements. 

Not only are they able to select from a range of jobs (and employers) available to them, but they can often negotiate contract requirements, allowing them to earn a higher day rate than permanent workers (Source: Glassdoor). 

Why Do Vessels Need Specialist Contractors?

As a result of leadership labour shortages, shipping organisations that operate from highly regulated economies (such as the UK, U.S., the Netherlands, and Australia) require specialist contractors. Otherwise, they’d be unable to fill necessary – and sometimes legally required – positions onboard. 


Trends in renewable energy are pushing billion-pound investments towards the UK’s East Coast. In-demand, unfilled jobs that can be filled by maritime contractors include:

  • Wind Energy Yield Analysts
  • Energy Transformation Managers
  • Land Managers
  • Category Managers
  • Procurement Officers

Marine & Heavy Lift

There are various certifications available to UK heavy-lift workers, such as the Certificate in Heavy Lift, Specialist Height Safety Training, and a CPCS Card Category A60. Operating large machinery is a dangerous job that calls for qualified crane operators, a difficult job position to fill. To this end, contractors offer a handy talent solution: moving from one project to another where crane operators are needed.

Subsea and ROV

ROV technologies are constantly evolving, and Assembly Technicians, Pilot Technicians, Technical Project Managers, Supervisors, Engineers, and Data Processors are all necessary to a successful subsea exploration or inspection mission. ROV maintenance can be conducted by specialist contractors on one-off jobs.

Oil & Gas

Offshore Chemists, Heat Treatment Technicians, Safety Executives, and Naval Architects make up an essential part of any oil and gas mining mission, where laying mining technologies can prove risky. Contractors bring important expertise that can help lead teams and ensure the safety of crew members.

Survey and Inspection 

Marine Scientists and Oceanographers passionately explore the ocean, making huge discoveries about essential ecosystems that help support mankind. Contract consultants provide witness and support capabilities to new long-term trainees, helping create entry-level positions and secure talent for survey and inspection missions in the future. 

How Do Specialist Contractors Keep the Maritime Industry Running?

The number of officer cadets in training in the UK has only grown from an average of 750 in 1999 to approximately 1500-2000 in 2021 (Source: UK Gov). In the meantime, freight shipping alone has boomed to an annual revenue of £3.9 billion (Source: Statista). Vast growth across the worldwide maritime sector is opening skills shortages in multiple industries – from oil and gas to subsea and ROV.

(Source: UK Gov)

Specialist contractors, therefore, have become an important part of maritime projects – offering a host of benefits to hiring managers. These include:


Contractors are responsible for maintaining their own certifications and are often dependent individuals who can help crewing managers fill necessary gaps before a fleet sets sail. This reduces the pressure placed on human resources to ensure permanent workers have undergone extensive training, and can even save a few pennies on updating licences where applicable. 


Specialist contractors who rely on recruiters to find placements that suit their requirements will have a reputation to uphold, making them reliable candidates that smoothly integrate into your team. In order to continue sourcing work, they’ll adhere to vessel rules and respect officers and management.


When a worker operates in one industry for 20 years, their view of the world may be limited. Contractors have often worked in a range of maritime jobs like heavy lifting or deepsea mining. Qualified and specialist contractors come with experience that can guide problem-solving, innovation, and teamwork on your vessel with little to no training required. Due to this, contract hires are the future of maritime recruitment in 2022.


Emergencies and time-dependent projects often require rapid crew recruitment. Specialist maritime contractors are an international solution that soon matches demand. As they already have job profiles and availability listed for the hiring manager’s convenience, individuals can be selected and placed within a matter of days.

Low Commitment:

For growing maritime companies undertaking risky but exciting ventures, specialist contractors are the perfect staffing option. They fill gaps without requiring long-term work guarantees, allowing you to mitigate the consequences of full-time employees. Contractors have up-front rates that allow fleet owners to accurately calculate the overall total of each vessel, unlike employees who require expensive benefits (like sick pay and holiday rates) alongside salaries.

The Types of In-Demand Specialist Contractors

As leadership shortages continue to grow in the maritime industry, specialist contractors are often used to fill management roles on deck. 

Popular contracting positions in 2021 included:

  • First and Second Mates
  • Engineers
  • Electricians
  • Masters
  • Riggers
  • Crane Operators
  • Certified Officers

Many of these maritime roles were essential positions in vessel movement and allowed the industry to keep running despite the interruptions of the pandemic.

The Future of Recruitment in Maritime

It can be hard to predict how supply and demand will impact oil and gas prices, or how natural disasters can create vessel delays and costly fees. Employees get sick, certifications run out of date, and crewing managers feel the pressure from fleet owners to design timely and cost-effective solutions to labour shortages. 

With these factors in mind, specialist contractors offer a favourable outcome to the maritime industry’s shortcomings – and keep ships on the move. 

Hire Specialist Contractors Through Select Offshore

Select Offshore delivers maritime professionals who are reliable, communicative, and enthusiastic. We adhere to tricky deadlines to secure project success through:

  • Executive Search
  • Contract Staffing
  • RPO Solutions 

Our team strongly believes in celebrating each of the individuals we work with, dedicating time to find them desirable offshore placements. 

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