Reduction in numbers of workers is a quick way to cut back operational costs. But results can be uneven with a quick fix becoming a long-term liability. The idea of reducing shipboard crew sizes is very attractive for two reasons. First, depending on the type of vessel and its operational patterns, people can account for up to 51 percent of operational costs. Second, downsizing is also aided by a decreasing labor pool, because it is increasingly difficult to get people interested in seagoing careers.
Since World War II, changes in ship manning have been dramatic. The ubiquitous Liberty ship (2,710 were built) of 14,250 tons displacement required a crew of about 50. Today the largest container ships weigh in at nearly 200,000 tons with crews between 13 and 24.