About Me

My photo
The plus of being a longshoreman is having a flexible work schedule...for the most part. That means I can take time off to enjoy my life.

Friday, May 6, 2011


As a longshoreman one of the first jobs you will encounter is the extra stevedore (aka lashing). It doesn't require any special skills, training or much knowledge at all to perform. That isn't to say that it's necessarily an easy job either. Like all jobs on the waterfront experience makes a world of difference. When I first started I really hated the job. Today I still avoid the job when I can. Really it's a job that will weed out those who can't make it as a longshoreman. As I had the "pleasure" of taking (or really being forced to take it since no other jobs were available) the job countless times, I got better at it. Now, I don't claim to be proficient at lashing, but at least I am decent at it and don't dread it like I used to. Now that I've got you all wanting do the job I guess I explain it.

Be prepared to get dirty. This means dawning coveralls or clothes you wouldn't mind throwing away afterwards. I personally have a pair of coveralls that haven't been washed in years specifically set aside for lashing. Throw on some gloves, a hard hat, and you're steel-toe shoes and you're ready to climb the gangway to the ship. Well almost ready. The only tool you will need (hopefully) is a lashing bar. Really it's just a piece of rebar that's been cut to about a foot and a half long. You're job as a lasher is to hook up the lashing. The lashing locks the shipping containers to the deck of the ship so that as they are rolling about in the Pacific they don't have any containers take a swim. For each container there are a total of four bars (each is about 8 feet tall and maybe 30 pounds) that connect to the top two corners of a container and the bottom two corners of the container stacked on top of the other container. Each bar connects to a turnbuckle (lock that you spin on a threaded screw to lock in place, each weighing about 35 pounds) which connects to the catwalk (raised platform between the stacks of containers on the ship). So basically all you do is connect the bars to the container, connect the turnbuckle to the bar and spin the turnbuckle till it's snug, then use that handy lashing bar we brought up earlier to further tighten the turnbuckle. On the containers closest to the sides of the ship there are two special bars that are about 16 feet high and about 50 pounds that need to be connected. Sounds easy enough. But try doing it with rusty gear, in the rain and cold for ten hours. Then tell me how how you're back, arms and fingers feel. Why pay for a gym member ship when you can get paid to work out? And as you can imagine it's pretty dangerous up there on the ship. Plenty of people get hit by bars that come loose. Slips, trips, and falls also are quite frequent, and I'm petty sure most of these ships aren't up to any safety code. Of course not every shift is quite so difficult and there are guys who love to lash. But they also know the ships that aren't horror stories, have a crew of seasoned veterans teaming up so no one is carrying others, and only take jobs on ships that aren't going have them there working all day long.        


  1. I know this post is old. Are you still a longshoreman?

  2. How can it be 10 hours when it's only 8 hour shifts?

  3. They're ten hour shifts when you're finishing and the Bays aren't safe to load yet. Or you have new people, crap gear, or better yet both. They can keep you two hours past your 8 making 10 Hrs...

  4. I'm a lasher in Port Newark in New Jersey. Here, lashing is done by an outside contractor, separate from the rest of the shore gang. There's generally between eight and twelve of us on most ships. We stay with the ship from start to finish, usually between 15 and 25 hours. But often we have to 'roll' from one ship to another, meaning that 'shifts' can last for days (although you can call for a replacement if you want).

    I have a couple of questions for you, because I'm curious as to how lashing works in the other ports. How is it decided that someone is fit to do the job? Here, a lot of the shore gang is either too old, fat, or generally weak to safely lash or unlash a ship. Also, how many lashers are generally on one ship?

    Finally, in your post it seems like you've only worked ships that take three-high lashing in the corners? Are you not familiar with 'three-high complete' ships (where every line of containers on the vessel gets four long bars), or where you just not mentioning them?

    Thanks for posting!

  5. In the port of vancouver(vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) most of us only heard of 3 high lashing. We don't contract out for that job(or any i beleive). Everyone is required to lash when they start as a casual(the test upon being picked for a registration number requires basic lashing skills). Our shifts are from 8am-4:30pm...4:30pm-1:00am...1:00am to 8:00am. People can get overtime or extensions but for the most part thats what consists as a shift. Typucally, most ships are done with no more than 3 shifts. Our ships we get in are relatively small compared to other ports. Anymore questions?

  6. I just took a physical exam to become a longshoreman on. Newark, really hope they call me soon, any advice from anyone

    1. how was the physical exam? can you briefly explain what it consists of please?

  7. Container lashing sucks..Im ok with car lashing.

  8. I don't understand where they release applications to the general public. I've heard you can only get in by referall but I want in so bad! How do I do it? I Co nstantly check the bcmea sites jobs but it indicates the the ilwu sends out applications but if I go to the site they state nothing is put out to the general public. So how can I even get my hands on an application????

  9. Anyone know the address to send "3x5" cards to to get on the casual list?

  10. I have just received my TWIC card and now I am trying to move onto the next step to become a longshoreman. But I have no clue where to start, who to get in contact with or anything. I have contacted the ILA but it's only the job hotline and it's only a recording, no one I can actually speak to for further instructions or guidance

  11. I'm in the same boat as all you about finding out info. Anyone find anything out yet?


Subscribe via email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Hard At Work