The USCG is a branch of the US military that operates within the Department of Homeland Security. Its focus is “national security”, terrorism, drug interdiction, and law enforcement. In other words, the fun stuff that justifies carrying bigger guns.
Traditional USCG functions like aids to navigation, rescue, Mariner licensing, and ship inspection are boring and shrinking sidelines that the USCG has lost interest in. Thus the increased reliance on third party inspectors, like ABS and others. Not to mention allowing private license prep schools, including employer operated schools, to administer USCG exams.
Like the US Navy, USCG Officers are mostly generalists that are rotated through a wide variety of duties, so they often don’t develop much expertise in one area. They are promotion focused.
I’m not sure what tickets a USCG Officer has to get punched for promotion, or what types of duty carry the best promotion potential, but my guess would be national security, terrorism, drug interdiction, etc. I doubt that a licensing and inspection specialty have much promotion potential.
Furthermore, there are not enough large US ships left for the USCG to inspect in order to develop and maintain ship inspection expertise.
The USCG simply lacks ship inspection expertise. Ship inspection expertise will never be a serious goal, much less an actual competency, unless the number of US flag ships increases.
If the Jones Act were repealed, the USCG would have so few ships left to inspect, that they would end up delegating all ship inspection to ABS and other third parties.
What’s the cure? Build and maintain more US flag ships. How would we do that? The only way to do it would be more “protectionism.” There is no other way.