Back to ideas to fix the USMM/MSP


I’m going off topic here but my current bos’n is Vietnamese, excellent seaman, used to be a fisherman. Before that an African-American from Calif, also a good seaman. Before that from Honduras, before that from Cape Verde Island and Barbados. All with US MMC.

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Yes, trying to head off a lecture before it begins.


A 2nd registry is a good idea. It provides new jobs for officers (some are union on foreign vessels), is economically advantageous to owners and charterers (without whom there can be no jobs), delivers revenue for the treasury (Panamanian registry generated $255 million last year).

All sorts of industries (not just ours) are pulling the “national security” card (like CCaptain says: “it’s what gets Washington’s attention”). Unfortunately it is a sign of feverish competition for increasingly limited funding in an increasingly difficult budgetary environment so it is utterly insane to think that MSP funding will continue indefinitely.

Steamers comment about hitching our wagon to national security rings true. Shipping is, first and foremost, a business. One that can be taxed. There is general apathy about our deep sea industry in Washington because it creates little or no revenue, in fact it is a burden in the treasury. A second registry would be economically viable and induce a positive balance of accounts with the Treasury and I guarantee you’d have Washington’s attention.

Would it be awful if an owner were required to have one full US crewed vessel for every five under second registry? No reason we can’t have our cake and eat it too.


I don’t agree but will let others do the debating with you…I am off till this evening celebrating the holiday


I would imagine that these same 4 people are familiar with the exact requirements of the British military and as such you could not outsource these people’s skills to some other countries.
London is one of the worlds leading centres for international arbitration for shipping but because of the decline in its Merchant fleet this could change.
I am aware of many in the legal profession in London that started the their working life as a deck apprentice including several judges and their depth of knowledge on shipping is unmatched.
During the Vietnam war a company I was employed by delivered cargo to Saigon. The ships were manned by British officers and Indian crew. There was one incident where a rocket lodged in the electrician’s bathroom but failed to explode. They were there because of the money.


I think that is what I wrote:

“The military and national security thing is just jingoism in my opinion, it is a hook on which to hang a more reasonable (and therefore less appealing) means of protecting an important American industry and the people who support it.”

The military side of “national security” is a theme song, a jingle, jingoism for the redneck masses.


Not just awful … f’ing awful. Why give away 80 percent of our citizen’s labor? What do you have against Americans earning enough to live in America and buy American products from American companies? Giving away 80 percent of our cake means we eat dirt and act like we are grateful for having even that.


of course it is just like the NRA doesn’t represent gun owners but gun makers. Our national addiction to our military is wholly a product of “being sold” that we must have this massive military with an overabundance of the most wiz bang gosh darned sophisticated weapons because if we don’t have too much of too fancy then we’re second rate. When the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union went splat suddenly there was a feeling that all that money being spent to protect us from the Russian Bear could now start going to the people and our infrastructure but as soon as the Republicans took hold of the Congress they made damned sure the money pipeline to Northrup-Grumman and Lockheed-Martin stayed not just primed but the pumps continually running. Come the Dick Cheney presidency and the pumps went into full throttle 24/7 and more pumps where added to increase the rate of money flow. At the same time, every Republican rube fell for the national security war chant and kept time with the music calling for more and more military. All for fighing some tribesmen in the desert with no aircraft! How is it we end up in long bloody wars where the enemy has no airpower and we have it all? It is because of the power of the defense industry. The defense contractors are simply too powerful to kill and unless we can have them build something else that they can overcharge the taxpayer for like they can weapons then they will not be placated.

now with regards to the merchant marine in this. so we have this incredibly big military and god help us all if we ever face a war against a real enemy overseas but we have it and there is a chance of that war which would call for boots to do the fighting so what are we going to do if faced with that scenario and there is no good way to get the bodies to man the ROS ships the government has parked all over the place? Yes, the war might end up a stoopid one where we have no business being but we should at least have the means to go make fools of ourselves in some desert. Besides I want to see the jobs and the ships and if there is no other way to get them than to sell it as national defense then so be it. Just like KP should be funded from the DoD budget, let’s get some more MSP ships and let the Navy pay for them since sealift is a MSC responsibility and the DoD can certainly find the money to expand the MSP a whole lot easier than MarAd which is why I called for Secretary Mattis to put his money where his mouth is and fund a US merchant fleet if every single damned war plan he sees involves lots of US merchant ships!


but you nor anyone else has explained why the owner of a ship flagged in Panama would want to reflag his ship to some new US second registry unless offered a buttload of financial incentives to do so and what does the US get in return for all this huge giveaway? A few senior officers jobs…so what? we need top to bottom manning of commercial ships if we are to rebuild the manpower pool and that is best done with the MSP. Both programs would cost the Treasury so why not go with the program that gives the most bang for the buck?


No labor is lost, rather it is gained, but instead of gaining 18-20 jobs you gain 6-8. These are jobs that would otherwise not exist in the current labor market.

The reality is with out a generous subsidy courtesy of the taxpayer there wouldn’t be much to speak of on the jobs board and continuing to rely on the benevolence of Congress for survival is akin to suicide. At $300 million a year (2017) there is every reason to believe that sooner or later the Martitime Security Program will either be capped or reduced (just like PL480). Then what? Well you get lost labor for one.

A second registry that augments the first is a real solution towards a economically viable and self sustaining merchant fleet with wider occupational opportunities. Yes it would mean a favorable tax environment for owners, but it is revenue that would otherwise be collected by Panama or Liberia and not by the US treasury.

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and to what extent would shipowners be granted this “favorable tax environment” to incentivize them to come to this international trading register? what does the shipowner get in order to make him want to change from what he has now which obviously is working well enough for him? zero tax on any profits earned by a 2nd register vessel? all for a couple of masters and chiefs…pretty damned costly if you ask me. I suppose you can enact laws to make him feel pain if he stays with the FoCs his ships fly but that means undoing 70years of FoC ships having easy access to the US markets? gonna be a nasty fight in Congress there with all the free traders and agri lobby yelling about how much more this is gonna cost them. FoCs ships should have been taxed heavily to enter the US starting in the 1950s when there weren’t many of them but now virtually all ships calling in the US fly some FoC whether they are owned by Americans or foreigners. Also this 2nd register I imagine would only be offered to US corporations which own fleets of ships flying the flags of other nations. How do you differentiate these FoC ships from those owned by Asians or Europeans?

the fact of the matter is that Flags of Convenience destroyed national fleets the world over and a full 85% of global merchant vessels fly some form of a FoC. this is a genie which is pretty much impossible to put back into the bottle and any nation if it wants a national flag fleet has got to offer alot in the way of trade protection or subsidies to keep ships in their fleets. either that or water down their regulations so far down that it becomes a national fleet in name only which is what a 2nd register truly is.


The U.S. DoD is saying that their preferred policy is that the U.S. fleet be maintained at some minimum size. It’s probably safe to assume that the U.S. would prefer, in some cases at least, to use U.S. flag, perhaps for it’s most critical or most sensitive cargo.

Anecdotal evidence that the U.S has shipped military cargo on non-U.S. flag ship doesn’t disprove the logic behind that policy. Seems like it’s a probability type problem.

Not to get bogged down in details but for example if there were a total of 10 ship loads of cargo, 1 load of weapons and 9 loads of ammo perhaps the preference would be to use the U.S. flag ship for the weapons and the other 9 for ammo.

None of the 9 non- U.S. ships alone proves that the policy is incorrect nor does the statical data that 90% of the cargo went on non-U.S. ships.


No, the other 9 ships must be RRF ships broken out for the voyage. We own them, we pay for them, we need the jobs and the ships need to be used. None of those cargoes should ever load on a foreign bottom.


It was meant as an analogy of sorts, not intended to be taken literally as a specific plan.

Didn’t want to get bogged down with discussion details of the analogy.

Trying to explain why a single non-U.S. ship with military cargo does not invalidate the entire concept.


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and you still are failing to answer my question why any US citizen owner who has a ship currently flying an FoC would want to reflag his ship to this US 2nd registry? they are obviously needing to hire US masters and chiefs which will cost them more $$$ so why? they would need to be given a financial incentive which would need to be pretty big if anyone would be interested


So let’s try to what the US might gain if it offered a 2nd register for foreign trading ships.

  1. A larger fleet in terms of numbers and tonnage but the types of vessels enrolled likely would not be militarily useful for a surge sealift such as bulk carriers and crude oil tankers
  2. Depending how the regulations were written the US would get some work for officers (nice if it was all officers but there would be opposition from the industry do to added costs)
  3. Some revenues to the Treasury from fees collected (but to entice owners of FoC ships to switch would likely require more tax benefits to be offered making it net negative revenues)

IMO, to get any benefit not costing more than its value would be to tax FoC ship calls to a point where having a 2nd register ship w/ all US officers would be cheaper to vessel owner than the status quo but then foreign nations will implement tonnage taxes against these 2nd register vessels when they call.

Frankly, I see no way now offering such a 2nd register really does anything to alleviate the situation we are in today. I say implement laws giving full US flagged vessels a % of a total trade like crude oil exports or LNG.


I just realized that giving US flag vessels a % of certain trades is another option to rebuild the fleet which costs the Treasury nada, increases the fleet size (albeit not necessarily militarily useful vessels) and builds the seafarers labor pool. Of course business (big energy) would howl unless given something bigger in return so likely not revenue neutral.

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Let the bastards howl. If only we had a congress of something less than the kleptocrat scumbags we have now we probably wouldn’t even be having this discussion.


don’t get me wrong because I agree but this is Washingtoon District of Clowns we are talking about here. Money talks loud in the halls of the Con-gress and we see how much traction Rep. Hunter is getting everytime he proposes even a small fraction of our energy exports go in US ships. You know as well as I do that the US Merchant Marine and US flagged shipping has few supporters and that we are pretty much loathed by big business. Our only real friend is the Navy and they are pretty much only fair weather friends never extending themselves on our behalf. If we had a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs or CNO who was willing to stand before the Con-gress and demand more US ships you can bet people would sit up and listen, but all we have are the platitudes like what Mattis regurgitated at KP the other day. Give me one person high up in the Defense leadership to call for maritime reform and you know the ball would start rolling but they are all too busy buying $13B aircraft carriers that breakdown, $400M aluminum can ships that breakdown and $500M F35 Joint Strike Fighters that just one costs more than MarAd’s entire annual budget!