The U.S.-flagged sealift fleet has been allowed to erode to the point that it is of only barely sufficient size and capability to meet the demands created by relatively small contingencies such as those conducted in this century in Southwest Asia. Support for a U.S.-flagged commercial sealift fleet is one of the few economic areas where the U.S. government, Republican and Democratic administrations alike, has practiced what amounts to industrial policy. Much of the responsibility for maintaining a viable and effective U.S. commercial sealift capability, including ships, ports and mariners, rests with the Maritime Administration (MARAD), an agency of the Department of Transportation. MARAD uses a number of programs, agreements, and special financing arrangements to support the U.S. commercial cargo fleet, shipyards, and training of mariners. One such tool is the cargo preference program which mandates that U.S. government shippers use U.S.-flagged ships, if available, to transport 50 percent of any oceangoing cargo that either directly or indirectly involves the government. I have written more about the programs to support a viable and effective U.S. sealift capability for RealClearDefense here.
Find Archived Articles: