America's Maritime Infrastructure, Are we Failing?

An interesting article in this weeks [I]Economist [/I]about our failure as a country to invest in our maritime infrastructure… Kind of embarrassing as they lay it out.

America’s Maritime Infrastructure, Crying Out For Dollars, Underinvestment in Ports and Inland Waterways Imperils American Competitiveness

Don’t forget the archaic tax laws on interstate shipment by water that hinders sort sea shipping. The trucking lobby is way more powerful than us…

[QUOTE=Capt. Phoenix;97659]Don’t forget the archaic tax laws on interstate shipment by water that hinders sort sea shipping. The trucking lobby is way more powerful than us…[/QUOTE]

I couldn’t agree more. Check out this thread, which generated some interesting discussion on the lack of short sea shipping in the U.S. as well as the short-comings of American maritime economics. The noose is getting tighter all the time.

Also of note, that article was followed by this one on a possible resurgence in Great Lakes Shipping:

While perhaps optimistic, it would seem to me to be a very good thing for US shipping jobs. Though not usually considered “Blue Water,” some often forget that a few of the largest (length) US Flagged vessels ply the Great Lakes. While I’m happy to be riding the GOM oilfield wave, I know from my brief experience on the Lakes that there were likewise plenty of union-types happy to be sailing up there.

I saw that lakes shipping article on recently. As a lakes sailor I’d love to see the fleet expand up here. However, I don’t see it happening for American sailors.

Fednav, who is mentioned in the article, runs saltwater ships that come into the lakes. I could belive that this type of lake shipping could expand. However they are not US ships.

The vast majority of US jobs on the lakes are on self unloading bulkers. We haul ore, coal, stone and other such bulk cargos. These cargoes serve steel mills, power plants and construction. The coal to power plants is only going to decline in the long run due to the push for natural gas. For ore to increase our steel mills would have to ramp up production. Stone could improve via construction projects.

The liquid bulk trade does exist here, but not in a big way. Perhaps this could expand. Their was an article on boat nerd about a potential trade hauling crude out of Duluth.

For the US lake fleet to really expand something totally new needs to happen in my opinion. Something like a container feeder trade. Sadly I don’t see that happening here. The seaway closes in late December until late March every year. This would stop the flow of containers into the lakes, forcing them to be moved by rail or truck. Every year people using a feeder container line would have the system disrupted.

I have a friend who works for USACE. He is very concerned about our government’s lack of concern about dredging issues.

It takes years and years just to get approval and funds to repave a busy road. Keeping ports and waterways in suitable shape flies over the heads of most politicians and bureaucrats.