Okay I really debated whether this tangential post really needed to be replied to but the yard work went well and the honey-do list is getting shorter so what the hell.
[QUOTE=ombugge;183522]With the risk of being called “Anti-American”, “ignorant foreigner who know nothing about the American reality” and some not so polite things, I would like to point out a few facts;
What risk? You can always be counted on to use the logical fallacy of “personal incredulity” to imply the US is a hypocritical, conniving nation looking for a way to get around the commitments it has made, to what end? Further some farfetched scheme to take over the world? You say point out a few facts? It is hard to separate the facts from your usual opinion-heavy, fallacy driven arguments. Be that as it may let us continue…
USA is the main defender of freedom of navigation, freedom of international maritime trade, level playing field in international business, freedom of travel and many other freedoms. As a “leader of the free world” it is imperative that USA is seen to uphold the highest standard on such freedoms.[/QUOTE]
Hmm looks like a fact. Glad to stipulate all this. Lets even say the main defender of “freedom” in general. You may send your contributions to the effort to the US treasury any time you would like to start.
USA is a leading member of UN, OECD, NATO, World Bank, IMF and several more international organization and signatory to several conventions, international treaties and free trade agreements. (Although many has not been ratified by Congress)[/QUOTE]
All pretty much true but isn’t it just besides the point in the context of this thread? I mean the World Bank’s goal is the reduction of poverty and the IMF is to “foster global growth and economic stability” so what are you saying? We are using these organizations to make and enforce international maritime policy or just to get around it? I don’t think so.
Perhaps lets just consider the IMO, a “specialized agency” of the UN and more pertinent to the thread topic. While we mention the UN lets review the funding:
UK, France, China 5%
Can’t you guys kick a bit more in to the kitty from all that North Sea Oil bonanza?
Anyway, despite the funding allocation there has never been a Sectretary General of IMO from the USA. But fine let’s say the USA is a “leading member”. Looks like you slipped another fact in.
USA is also claiming to be the upholder of human rights, rule of Law, political freedom, freedom of speech etc. etc.
It also demand that other countries comply with safety rules, the right for the labour force to organize, (incl. seafarers) etc. These are fine words, but are they being followed by deeds?? (Ask Walmart, Amazon and others)[/QUOTE]
What do you base this claim on? Are you saying we “demand” others comply with our rules when in our waters? Does Norway do otherwise? Are you saying the US is not living up to its potential as a world leader and has problems at home? What country does not?
Are you saying that the US is being two faced when the government expresses concern when so-called American businesses move their manufacturing overseas where they can pay workers less and dump pollutants without fear of reprisal but operating in the US means they have to obey labor and environmental laws?
By the way citing Walmart and Amazon as examples of terrible working conditions is either naive or disingenuous. That’s your example that the USA is failing at labor relations? You disrespect all the merchant seamen who despite the passage of the MLC work in miserable conditions and for very low wages.
USA is therefore bound by what has been agreed in those organizations, not just what is convenient at the time. This includes the subsidies that can be paid to shipyards and the restriction that can be put on freight and trade. [/QUOTE]
Again what do you base this claim on? What specifically is the US doing that leads you to believe they are not bound by the treaties they have signed? Are you saying the US is subsidizing its shipyards? Are you joking? Are you really saying that US yards building US Navy ships and all ships engaged in Jones Act eligible (domestic) trade is a subsidy? Wow, 92 total ships, average age 20.6 years old, median year built 2001 – what a booming market for US yards.
If the US restrict transportation of goods to/from USA only to US flag vessels, the same may be applied for US flag vessels trying to compete on the world market. Likewise, as US restrict access to their market for foreign Offshore vessels, foreign markets for US flag vessels disappear.[/QUOTE]
Who is saying the US will restrict all trade to and from the US to US flag vessels? Are you deliberately misrepresenting what people are saying about MARAD and the programs being discussed (ah the strawman fallacy)? The US has some pretty modest cargo preference laws that reserves some cargos (government and some agriculture) being shipped overseas to US flag ships. Remember now these are not Jones Act trade eligible ships carrying this cargo overseas. They are probably foreign built and flagged then re-flagged as US so they can qualify for the MSP program and receive an operating subsidy per ship so the US will have a fleet of “militarily useful” ships in time of war or other emergency. Then they fight over the cargo preference cargo and whatever commercial cargo the carrier can rustle up.
The point people are making in this thread is these MSP ships while manned by US crews were not built in the US thereby depriving US shipyards of business and that their ownership though legal does nothing but drain off taxpayers money (the operating subsidies) to foreign / international holding companies instead of creating jobs for Americans (its our tax money after all).
If you think that the ONLY reason there are hardly any US flag vessels left working “foreign” is the high cost of US seafarers you are kidding yourself. To compete you have to meet the requirement for efficiency and ability to carry out the tasks required.[/QUOTE]
I think you are kidding yourself. This study from 2011 clearly shows that is the operating costs and crew costs being the largest of those that determine why carriers do not flag more vessels in the US. From the report:
“[I]During the industry consultations, the carriers indicated that there are two critical factors that affect their decision to register vessels under the U.S.-flag fleet: the availability of preference cargo, and the operating cost differential between U.S.-flag vessels and foreign-flag vessels.[/I] “
US crews are very capable of operating ships “efficiently” and “carry out tasks required” Are you kidding me? I don’t know what Americans you have worked with that have given you such a low opinion of them. You cannot honestly tell me you think that every seaman who has a STCW document from their home nation all have the same skills and knowledge? I think most people have a relatively high opinion of the Filipino seaman, they go to classes, take tests, do their physicals, etc. Yet they have their limits especially on more modern plants. You are seriously of the opinion that the bare minimum requirements of SCTW makes the best seaman? I am not saying US are the best seaman but you seem to be denying that they are among the best.
I have noticed that MARAD is talking big about US leadership in shipbuilding and maritime technology;
That is hardly born out by the fact that anything modern and “cutting edge” coming out of US yards for the last 10 years has been foreign designed and equipped largely with foreign machinery and equipment. If they want that statement to ring true they will have to spend a lot more money on R&D, Within the restrictions set be OECD for shipyard subsidies. (Or camouflage it as “Defense spending” maybe?)[/QUOTE]
You are going to have to point me to where the OECD has set restrictions on shipyard subsidies and exactly what subsidies US yards are getting that you feel violate these restrictions. My admittedly limited research on the OECD shows it to be basically an intergovernmental think tank. More into research than regulation. I can not find any such restrictions. I believe the EU did that though and that is how Portugal lost its big shipyard. Maybe at the expense of Northern European yards? I know that for a fact that Lisnave is no more and they say it is because of their joining the EU.
Anyway you are setting up a strawman again. The same notice you quote from above starts out like this:
[I]WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) today awarded $4.9 million in grants to support capital improvements at nine small shipyards located throughout the United States. Provided through the Small Shipyard Grant Program, the funding supports industrial modernizations that increase productivity, allowing our Nation’s small shipyards to compete more effectively in the global marketplace.
Wow 4.9 million split over 9 small shipyards. South Korea, China, Singapore and Japan must be shaking, not to mention Poland and Turkey. By the way, why is it that so many of these new modern Norwegian vessels are having hulls built in Poland or Turkey (some in Germany too?) then towed to Norway for completion? Why don’t they build the whole ship in those yards? Are they trying to get around some law or something?
Don’t be so hard on Chip. He’s supposed to be a cheerleader for the US maritime industry. So he can be forgiven for a little hyperbole in a press release when he gets to hand out 4.9 million to 9 shipyards!
Jamesbrown made the following statement;
Is this based on facts, or just “conventional wisdom” among many here?
In fact all major flag states are regulating their ships according to IMO SOLAS and other IMO conventions. The majority of ships are registered under flags that is on the MOU “White List”, manned by seafarers who hold qualification at least equivalent to STCW’95 requirements, with safety records not inferior to that of US flag vessels.
The owners of these vessels are required to comply with the MLC regulations. protecting the right of seafarers, regardless of nationality. (USA is not a signatory) The biggest problem is the restriction on shore leave and the treat of being pulled up in front of judge for infringement of US laws they are not familiar with when visiting a US port.
As for the wages being 4-5X more for US seafarers is correct for some, but not all foreigners. The wages and employment conditions for most European seafarers are far from inferior, in fact they far exceeds those for Americans. (This is when you look at the total “packet”, not just “dayrate”, which is not the way seafarers are paid, normally)[/QUOTE]
This section is just so much hooey. Jamesbrown was making a point that US seamen don’t have it that bad in terms of pay or working conditions and recourse via the legal system so what was MARAD supposed to be doing with regard to US mariners? You missed his point completely and you rather make a big deal about the 4-5 times pay rate and how majority of flags operate to same laws and regulations. Why do you get your feelings hurt so badly, so fast? He wasn’t attacking / challenging the rest of the world. By the way I would argue that while all nations are operating under the same regulations they are not operating to the same standards. You and I can make all the general statements we want to about our home nations fleets but there are bad ship owners under every flag, and incompetent crews as well. Google “magic pipe violations” are these the “infringement of US laws they are not familiar with” you are talking about? Come on, that is MARPOL regulations. These Greeks, Italians and even Norwegian “white list” owners don’t know about MARPOL? Or they just came somewhere that enforces the law and got caught.
With regard to the MLC. This is not the first time you have brought this up and you like to make the point that the US has not ratified this particular treaty. You do know that US flag carriers would still be bound by these requirements when they enter ports of member states that are parties to the treaty. So depending on where they trade they are complying with this convention. Is that not good enough for you? As mentioned above, I’m going to guess that most of our foreign going US flag fleet started out as a foreign flag vessel and is of much more recent vintage than our Jones Act Trade vessels so they probably have all the nice amenities per the MLC. Are you telling me every Liberian, Panamanian etc vessel has complied with all the physical requirements of the MLC? Or are they complying in name only because their country ratified the convention? I honestly don’t know but from the looks of some of them I doubt it. You can stop bringing up the MLC now. Most of South America has not ratified it either so pick on them now.
OK I may have to go into the bunker now, but you are welcome to fact check.[/QUOTE]
No need to retreat to a bunker, we are all perfect gentlemen here. What you should have gotten from this thread is that the US maritime industry is in a world of hurt. MARAD could not take unilateral action to correct all that is wrong. And it seems the Congress is just not interested or as others have suggested are just lobbied (paid) to look the other way as the merchant marine (beyond our shores) slowly fades away. When money is speech and corporations are people this is where you end up.