Russia and Arctic Shipping


You forgot to quote what my post was in reply to:

If anybody think that demanding 1/3 of the present trade would result in more US ships they are living in lalaland. I do think that if you tried to impose more protectionism on the overseas trade it would be the end of even what little goes on US keels now.

For one thing you don’t have the ships for it and, if you buy second hand ships to cover that big part of the market. You are not talking about a few dozen ships, but hundreds.
Where would you get the manpower to man them with all American Mariners?

I assume you would like to include some large LNG Carriers, Ethane Carries etc. and maybe a Semi-submersible HLV or two in the mix to cover the need for more than just the container trade?
How many US Mariners are there with experience from such vessels?

Are the even enough US Masters to take command of say 3-400 ships in a relatively short span of time?
(If that was the chosen solution, like for OSVs working overseas)

The only way it could be done in a reasonably short time would be to copy the European model and use a mix of American and foreign crews, maybe with some positions reserved for American citizens.

You are totally wrong if you think I wish for American mariners to go unemployed, or to turn USA into a 3rd world kleptocracy. (I think you can manage that very well without my help, given your present administration and the greedy capitalists that run it)

I only think you are wrong in thinking that protectionism is the way to avoid even further erosion of the US Maritime industry. It is unrealistic and have been tried before, with disastrous result. But you are of course free to try it out again.

PS> No. I’m not running for Congress, but maybe somebody here should give it a try.


Putting 1/3rd of US foreign trade on US flag ships would be quite simple. Americans who already own existing flag of convenience ships would just reflag them US to get the guaranteed 1/3rd of the US import/export shipping market for which they can charge higher freight rates and make larger profits. This mostly (probably 95%) would be relatively ordinary container ships, bunkers, and tankers. And yes, a few specialized vessels.

Initially, the reflagged ships could be allowed to have a large percentage of foreign crew and officers (same crew they have now) which would decrease gradually over a 10 years to very few foreign crew. In the beginning, the foreign crew could be paid the same as they are now, but over a 10 years the foreign wages must rise to match US wages. Of course, they will all pay US taxes.

Access to the world’s largest consumer market and the transportation opportunities that go with it, is an asset with great value. We have been allowing everyone else to use this asset for free to our great disadvantage. It’s time to start using this asset for our own benefit, and time to stop subsidizing the Chinese and everyone else, especially those who are not our friends.


Would they receive US benefits for their taxes?
I know that isn’t much, but why would anybody pay taxes to a country that doesn’t offer them anything in return??

But yes, you could start a US Open Register with the same incentives as all the other International Registers and maybe attract both US and foreigned owned ships into it, provided they were allowed to have the same crews on the same terms as before, but what is in that for US mariners?
The moment you want to increase cost by hiring “overpaid” Americans, nobody would join.

You would then have to ask Uncle Sam to subsidize the Owners to where American mariners became competitive, or increase the cost to American consumers to cover the cost. In any case the US taxpayer would carry the burden.

To think that the American market is so big and so powerful that foreign manufacturers and commodity producers would pay a premium for the privilege of sell to the US market is hogwash.
Likewise, to believe that buyers would pay more for US products is not realistic.

Exporters would find other markets in fast growing Asia and Africa and importers would look for whatever they need from manufacturers in Asia and in Europe. There is little if anything that can’t be found elsewhere.
Hollywood movies and social media don’t need ships to transport, what else is desired from USA?

America hasn’t done too badly over the years that you have held the hegemony in the wold. Now others are claiming their rightful place in the pecking order. It is a painful, but inevitable process and it cannot be stopped by trying to “contain” your competitors, or by isolating yourself from the world of commerce, incl. shipping.

Armed might is fairly useless in today’s world, since wars are not fought on traditional battle fields, with conventional weapons. What is the use of Battleships against a determined terrorist with a heavy truck on a growded street?

Nuclear war is unwinnable and you don’t win “hearts and minds” by insulting people on twitter.


Yes, and their new place in the pecking order means they have to pay more for labor. That is why scumbag corporations like Nike chase the cheapest labor on the planet and abandon sweatships in nations that improved the incomes and working conditions of their citizens.

Let’s let that process continue to be the rising tide that floats all boats instead of scuttling ours to match the lowest bidder. That is not protectionism, it is one of the jobs of government … to defend its citizens and its economy from harm.

You are correct when you say that we don’t need your help to become a 3rd world kleptocracy, our corrupt congress is already doing a great job of that on behalf of its paymasters.


Working on a US ship in the Jones Act trade or the deep sea trade is considered “working in the US”. All US citizens working anywhere have to pay US taxes (with certain exceptions). All foreign citizens working in the US must pay US taxes. If foreign crew wants to work on US flag ships, they are “working in the US” and must pay US taxes. If they don’t want to pay US taxes, the cannot work on US ships. Foreign sailors working on US ships are entitled to all the same rights and benefits as US sailors.

Actually, US laws which forbid employment discrimination based upon gender, age, religion, and national origin, would probably require that foreign seafarers working on ships reflagged US be paid the same wages as Americans.

I would prefer to see the US do like most other countries, and not tax seafarers wages, but that will never happen.

The extra cost of shipping a container on a US flag ship is tiny. If it costs on average $2500 to ship a container with $50,000 worth of good from Asia to the US, Asian exporters would not stop sending goods to the US if they had to pay $3000 to ship 1/3rd of their containers on US ships. The average cost of containers shipped CIF would just increase by an average of $167 to the US buyer. No obstacle to trade. The US buyers are going to retail that $50,000 container worth of imported goods for about $250,000. The extra $167 of shipping cost would have no effect on consumer prices.

If some effective change in US policy to support US flag deepsea shipping through subsidies or cargo preferences is not adopted, the US deepsea fleet will drop from 60 ships to almost none. One could argue that only 60 ships for a country the size of the US is already almost none.


What you should be aiming for is a second (open) US Register that allow foreign crew and US officers, but with Master mandatory US citizen.

The “first register” would be per a modified Jones Act, covering vessels in domestic trade and military transport etc. Service on such vessels should be reserved for US citizens and permanent resident to ensure a recruitment base of US Mariners.

Such a fleet mix would enable US Merchant ships to compete for cargoes to/from US ports and still reserve domestic trade for US manned ships.

Enabling owners to build or buy ships where they want would enable them to compete for carriage of goods within US with rail and road, where short sea transport is the logical means transport.

I realize that there are a lot of special interests to fight and rules and regulations that would need to be modernized to reflect today’s reality, but there are plenty of places to look for guidance on how it can be done.

Anything you do would probably require some sort of subsidies initially, but over time things will even out and US shipping will become competitive under own flag again.


There already are essentially two “registers” of US flag ships, Jones Act and non Jones Act. They all have to be crewed by USCG documented mariners but only the Jones Act ships need to be US built. What would be the benefit to us to institute your plan for a “second register”? All it would do is cost US mariners jobs.


You are assuming that nothing can be changed, at least to the better.

I think that if US-flag ships became more competitive with the rest of the world there would be more of them, thus more options for US Mariners as well. After all 1/5 of the world fleet is American owned and controlled.

A modified Jones Act that became more in tune with modern reality (i.e. no “US-built” requirement, but still with US Mariners mandatory) would allow domestic shipping to compete with rail and road transport.

Yes I know, you have get the Longshoremen to realize that they are killing the goose that lay the golden egg by not joining the modern world. (Margaret Thatcher did it in the UK)
How many voters are they?? (Or maybe more to the point; how many lobbyists can they employ??)

To live in a dream world where anybody, US or foreign shipper, is going to pay more for freight just because the vessel is flying a US flag is totally unrealistic. (US Gov. exempt)

It is also against the American idea of free market and capitalism that you have been trying to tell the world they have to copy for 7 decades, if not more.

Now that the world has learnt that globalization and free market is the right way, America is going to go back on their principles??


The market is a very complex thing that no single person or entity can fully understand or calculate. I don’t think anybody, even our all-knowing government officials, should be confident that they can truly calculate the change in shipping costs and macro-economic effect of such a massive policy change. Unintended consequences are a bitch.


That is not credible under the current situation.

The Jones act bolted the stable door after the horses had fled, that is the reality and the US fleet have been in mortal decline since.

The whole fiscal and legal structure in the US maritime world needs to change.

The UK went through painful times as Thatcher reformed industries but is seeing the benefits a generation later.

The US should scrap the Jones Act,

Introduce and open register or two or three (Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico?)

Give those territories offshore status similar to Bermuda or the Isle of Man with low tax level regimes.

Follow Europe and have 100% Foreign Income Tax Deduction for qualifying seafarers. (A lot of N Sea boats make a token call to Norway to qualify for this with the owners consent - a little diesel saves a lot of payroll)

Fully adopt STCW

Get rid of CFRs

Introduce a tonnage Tax linked to training and the that ensures there is a career path

With a career path ensured wean seafarers off the Union Halls

Reform the waterfront.

It is a statesman of the stature of Thatcher that is required.