Advertising vacancies for top ship officers comes as natural to some Greeks as looking for a tenant or a missing pet.
That is at least what an enterprising shipping agency in Piraeus thought when it simply stuck a computer-printed notice on a bus stop to attract masters and chief engineers.
Its choice of bus stop can only be described as wise. Strategically located at the far end of Syngrou Avenue, it lies at the very heart of a sprawling shipowning hub in which some of Greece’s biggest shipowners have their headquarters, including the Tsakos and Angelicoussis families.
Apart from its unusually direct advertising approach, the notice is also remarkable in that it offers a rare insight into how much money top crew members are currently offered.
A VLCC master can expect to earn €12,500 ($14,126) a month, a rather generous amount considering that teachers get about €1,000 a month in the debt-laden country. Chief engineers willing to work on a much smaller, 100,000-dwt tanker, are also offered €12,500 a month — the figures are understood to be before tax.
A lack of top ship officers has led to rising wages in Greece. “A master makes more money than I do these days,” a top executive at a first-class tanker operator told TradeWinds last year.
Competition for qualified personnel is especially sharp when it comes to crewing Greek-flagged vessels, where the pool of available talent is even smaller. Greek law states that a proportion of the top officers, including masters, has to be local.
As such, masters on a Greek-flagged suezmax are offered €13,800 a month, about 10% more than their colleagues on a foreign-flagged VLCC. Chief engineers on a suezmax flying the blue-and-white pennant are offered €13,600 a month.