Ten Reasons the Merchant Marine is Failing

According to Capt. John Conrad

  1. The military needs the merchant marine so the department of defense must use its political influence to provide the funds to support it.

  2. Nobody advertises the merchant marine.

  3. We put the wrong people in charge.

  4. Mariners don’t spread the word.

  5. Republicans don’t understand the problem.

  6. USCG and MARAD don’t cooperate.

  7. Lobbyists get all the money.

  8. MARAD only publicizes the bad news.

  9. MARAD needs an effective publicist.

  10. The news media does not understand the importance of seafaring.

Capt. Conrad says everyone should publicize these reasons. The only solution he proposes is in #1. Unfortunately, just publicizing problems does not solve them.

We should turn over the certification of all seafarers and American flag vessels to the Maritime Administration. All inspections of operational vessels should be done by each vessel’s crew and supervised by the Maritime Administration under the Streamlined Inspection Program that was pioneered over 20 years ago by the Coast Guard and Hornbeck.

The American Bureau of Shipping should approve new construction including hull, machinery, navigation and safety equipment, maintenance and repairs done by shipyards, provide vessel load lines, and tonnage admeasurment.

I don’t know who Capt. conrad is but Capt. Konrad did make suggestions.

  • Nobody advertises the merchant marine.
    MARAD and USCG needs to a buy ads in Maritime publications.

  • We put the wrong people in charge.
    He said honor the right people and he gave examples of two individuals we should honor. He’d be happy to provide more.

  • Mariners don’t spread the word.
    He said to work locally to improve the visibility of the Merchant Marine in your community. He aslo said to get your fellow mariners to write to the MARAD Administrator: mark.buzby@dot.gov

  • Republicans don’t understand the problem.
    That one is above Konrad’s oay grade.

  • USCG and MARAD don’t cooperate.
    He suggested that MARAD be transferred from the DOT to the DHS

  • Lobbyists get all the money.
    Stop giving lobbyists your money.

  • MARAD only publicizes the bad news.
    Publish good news!

  • MARAD needs an effective publicist.
    Asked and answered.

  • The news media does not understand the importance of seafaring.
    He suggested that MARAD and shipping companies hold press events and invite journalists to ride aboard ships.


Joseph Conrad of course (or more properly Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski)

if you are a related descendant, then you should be immensely proud


RU Kidding? That was the worst novel I’ve ever been forced to read. over. and over. and over. really. in High School, in University, in University again. What a rag. but the movie was… perfect.

Everyone gets everything he wants.

He’s my favorite but his name was Konrad too!

Uh, POLITICIANS don’t understand the problem.

I am really not sure what you mean by this.

ABS should get out of the business of routine inspections. That function should be the responsibility of vessel crews under the Streamlined Inspection Program.

Before I join this discussion, just what sort of “routine inspections” are you referring to?

ABS regularly boards US flagged vessels to determine if they are in compliance with the Certificate of Inspection. These boardings should be the responsibility of the Maritime Administration and limited to verifying that the crew and management are complying with the requirements of the Streamlined Inspection Program.

What? You are kidding, right?


Wrong! I’m dead serious. The industry needs a thorough shake-up.

If you are of the opinion Class, i.e., ABS boards to "determine compliance with the vessel’s COI you are obviously unaware of the inspections that are required for the vessel to remain “in Class”. This, in addition to the other annual inspections to maintain the other mandated certificates.

IMO, whether or not the company opted for ACP, SIP, or the regular USCG inspections it really falls on the crew (with the company’s backing & support) to maintain the ship and systems. A part of that regimen is to regularly test those systems to ensure they work properly. It really doesn’t matter if that is per ACP, SIP, or just a PM item. I always preferred to work with Class and the Coast Guard to show them we were doing our job versus it being an adversarial relationship.


Class “attends” a vessel on invitation, the CG and port state control “board” whether you like it or not.


Doesn’t ABS also board with CG as port state control?

No. Where did you ever come up with that notion?

There are 131 other class societies besides ABS. There are 11 other IACS members which class about 90 percent of the world’s fleets. Why on Earth would you think ABS somehow gets blessed with the right or duty to board any other society’s ships? ABS is a commercial business, not a government agency.

1 Like

Technically it’s a nonprofit :rofl::joy:


Am only concerned with ABS boarding an American vessel with the CG for an inspection.

I don’t think you understand how class societies work.


What ABS does on a US flag vessel is generally independent of what the Coast Guard does. The Coast Guard inspects and issues a COI to me statutory requirements. ABS, or Class, surveys a vessel to see that it meets the requirements of the applicable Rules. As state above, ABS attends at the invitation of the owner, and also bills the owner for services rendered. It is a Not for Profit society. On certain flag vessels, an ABS Surveyor may also carry out Statutory Inspections and issue appropriate certificates. Even on US flag vessels, ABS will inspect, endorse/issue Load Line Certificates which are Statutory, but independent of the COI. Granted it was a couple of decades ago, and there have been a few changes, but I was an ABS field surveyor for 10 years. Back then, US flag work was only about 60% of what I did.