The Merchant Marine Is Of Critical Importance Says US SECDEF Mattis At Kings Point Graduation

Good article from gcaptain: The Merchant Marine Is Of Critical Importance Says US SECDEF Mattis At Kings Point Graduation

“As small as our Merchant Marine may be today, it is absolutely essential. It’s in every war plan that I review, I guarantee you,” the secretary said.


You may not know this General Mattis, but the motto of that place is “Acta Non Verba”

so if the US Merchant Marine is “absolutely essential” to the DoD, why don’t you turn those words into deeds Mr. Secretary? Get the US fleet some program funding out of the Defense budget…the money it takes to build one PIECE OF SHIT LCS would do very nicely.

one little aluminum beer can ship which can’t go 12 hours at sea before some catastrophic breakdown forces it to limp to a port vs. dozens and dozens of fully manned ready to go US flagged merchant ships. which of the two is really going to tip the scales over to our side? Hmmmm…?

1 Like

So with your ears to the waves how will we rectify the lack of support for Merchant Mariners?
I ask as my Congressman is John Garamendi and he tends to throw support to the CG. What can I push him with to support our Mariners?
Steve Haupt

I doubt there is much you can ask him to do which he isn’t already doing. The problem is that leadership in the House and Senate have no interest in the matter.

You might ask if he knows about the loopholes in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act which allows companies to employ foreign national mariners on the Gulf of Mexico at the expense of American mariners? If he does know, ask why he isn’t working to close them?

1 Like

Mattis gave a canned speech written for him. Notice his words, never once does he call for construction of ships for these new graduates. He does say;

"The United States needs its Merchant Marines for commerce as well as when the “storm clouds gather” and the military needs to be ready for the fight.

He has no clue as to the size of the US merchant fleet for commerce or otherwise, if so he would be concerned.

“You are going to be the skilled and confident mariners and other service leaders that your country needs, and we need every one of you right now — every one of you counts,” he said.

Really? Where are the jobs?

Never forget, Generals and Admirals don’t get to be either without being politicians first.

as I thought…just more hollow meaningless words

but why should I be surprised? effing goobermint just doesn’t care

1 Like

I would think that the SECDEF saying that the Merchant Marine is of critical importance is a more positive indicator then if he had given some anodyne graduation speech about the value of hard work or the like.

How about the merchant marine is essential because first and foremost, it provides jobs for US Mariners and an ability to provide for our families. It also provides the transportation essential to keep our lights on, drive our vehicles and is the cheapest way to ship most products in bulk. War? The last thing that comes to mind for our merchant Marines is being there in a time of war. That’s just my 2 cents.

Except having ships and trained crew is the entire reasoning behind the Jones Act.

When the Falklands were invaded Britain replaced cheaper foreign crews with British nationals on the Merchant ships that went down there. As soon as the conflict was over they were shown the gangway.
The authorities can not repeat the performance as there are very few mariners left.

yes but again here we have words not deeds…if he believes having a merchant marine and merchant mariners is so important to all defense planning why doesn’t the DoD take actions to ensure the US has the merchant marine that the DoD needs for all contingencies such as:

  • taking a tiny almost microscopic fraction of weapons spending and add that to the MSP (is not the ship you command enrolled in the program?)

  • ensuring every cargo shipped by the DoD anywhere on the planet goes on a US flagged ship?

  • fund the construction of new ships in the US to commercial designs with features which make those ships particularly attractive to the DoD and then charter those vessels to US operators at rates favorable to the operators (MarAd did this in the 1950’s (using funding partly from the DoD) with the Mariner class breakbulk vessels which then went on to serve the Nation in both commercial and USNS service right up to the present decade!)


you might read this…it came from a different time in this nation’s history when having a fleet of high quality, modern ships meant something to its leaders. that all went away then Ronnie Raygun became president and it has never returned but that was when the USA had true leaders who put the Nation first and considered any action to weaken the US as treason
…to our “leaders” today, treason is normal daily business.

C4-S-1a Mariner

The Mariner-class ships were excellent breakbulk ships originally operated for Maritime Administration (MARAD) under General Agency Agreements. The C-4 Mariner class was a traditional house/engine-room center vessel, with 4 hatches forward and 3 aft. Since the Korean War had emphasized supply, a share of new construction was allocated to logistic support units. Early in the Korean conflict three 20-knot passenger ships, already building for the American President Lines, were taken over and completed as troop transports for MSTS, which also acquired some new cargo types with roll-on roll-off loading systems and with hulls strengthened for use in ice. Although many NDRF ships operated superbly in support of allied forces in Korea, the Maritime Administration, recognized the need to stimulate the US shipbuilding industry. Under the stimulus of the Korean war the Maritime Commission undertook the construction of a number of 20-knot Mariner class cargo ships.

Realizing the limitations of the World War II Maritime Commission-built fleet of merchant ships, Admiral Edward L. Cochrane initiated a program to foster ship construction in the US and oversaw the design and building of the Mariner-class freighters. Rather than duplicate past designs, Marad decided to build a ship for the future. This new type cargo ship would deliver higher volumes of cargo at higher speeds than previous designs. Capable of running at 20 kn, the ships were 564 ft long and loaded with innovations such as hydraulically-operated hatches. A technological leap forward, they established many of the machinery practices used during the following decade and remained in service well beyond the war.

Initially, American operators didn’t share Marad’s vision. They refused to buy the ships when offered for sale after the war, calling them “too big,” “too fast,” and “too technological.” One was early acquired by the Navy for conversion to an AKA and others in due course for conversion to attack transports. Four of the ships went to the Navy as attack transports and experimental vessels, and the rest went to lay-up.

American carriers such as American President Lines, Matson Lines, Pope & Talbot Lines, and Pacific Far East Lines became familiar with the ships and gained an appreciation for their size, speed, and manpower-saving features. Within a few years, however, Marad was vindicated. As the world re-industrialized, US operators saw that the ships could help to capture a share of the growing international trade. Not only did they buy all the remaining Mariners, they built another 17-18 [?] of them privately. The true testament to the design’s farsightedness came from the competition. After initially protesting the “unfair technological advantage” granted by this new ship, foreign owners began building Mariner copies, and did so well into the next decade.

In 1971 three American Mail Line Mariner-type (C-4) cargo liners were jumboized. The Washington Mail, Japan Mail and Philippine Mail received new 105-foot midbodies at Bethlehem Steel’s San Francisco yard, increasing their length from 564 feet to 669 feet. As full container ships of the C-6 class, they were able to handle 892 20-foot containers compared to 200 under their original design. The vessels also received new bow thrusters for better steering control in close quarters, and a new stabilization system.

The Mariners revolutionized shipping on a world scale. It was by far Marad’s most successful project. Until the coming of containerships in the late 1960s, there were variations of the seven-hatch Mariner design building all over the world. The Mariner program is regarded as conclusive proof that a militarily useful ship design can also be commercially successful. The Mariner Class vessels had National Defense Features that provided considerable extra horsepower that commercial operation was not allowed to use. The extra nozzle blocks on the turbine were locked with chain and sealed. If the seals were found broken at inspection, the company who owned the ship was liable to considerable extra charges.

As part of the 1950s modernization of the Navy’s amphibious force with faster ships, two attack transports (APA-248 Paul Revere and APA-249 Francis Marion) were converted from new “Mariner” class freighters. In 1958 the Navy ordered the conversion of the Mariner-class cargo ship Diamond Mariner to then the nation’s largest and fastest attack transport, the USS Paul Revere (APA-248). This projects being assigned to the private Todd yard was due to the Navy’s return to allotting repair work to private yards.

Francis Marion (APA-249) was launched as Prarie Mariner on 13 February 1954 by New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, NJ and delivered on 25 May to the Maritime Administration who operated her until she was placed in the National Defense Reserve Fleet on 6 January 1955. She was transferred to the Navy on 16 March 1959, named, classified APA-249, and converted by Bethlehem Steel Co., Baltimore, Md. Francis Marion was commissioned on 6 July 1961.

Tulare (AKA-112) was laid down under a Maritime Administration contract as Evergreen Mariner (MA hull 32) on 16 February 1953, at San Francisco, Calif., by the Bethlehem Pacific Coast Steel Corp.; launched on 22 December 1953; sponsored by Miss Carolyn Knight, daughter of the governor of California, Goodwin J. Knight; renamed Tulare and designated as AKA-112 on 10 June 1954. The ship was then converted to an attack cargo ship by her building yard; turned over to the Navy on 10 January 1956; and commissioned on 12 January 1956. On 1 January 1969, the ship was redesignated LKA-112. She was decommissioned on 03/31/1986 and stricken on 08/31/1992.

Military Sealift Command operated the missile range instrumentation ship, USNS Observation Island (T-AGM 23). Missile range instrumentation ships provide platforms for monitoring missile launches. USNS Observation Island was built as a “Mariner” class merchant ship, launched in August, 1953, and was acquired by the Navy in September 1956 for use as a fleet ballistic missile test ship. The vessel was converted at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, and kept in reserve as a Maritime Administration asset from 1972 until 1977. In August 1977, Observation Island was reacquired by the U.S. Navy and transferred to Military Sealift Command, where she was reclassified as T-AGM 23, a missile range instrumentation ship. (She was retired only four years ago in 2014!)

In the early 1950s, at 563 feet and with 20 knots speed, the high speed single screw Mariner class freighters were the size and speed of moderate size passenger liners. Matson Lines was one of the first to realize this. When Matson Lines felt financially confident enough to restore its pre war passenger line from the West Coast to the Antipodes, they arranged with the US Government to adapt two “Mariner” freighters to the passenger trades, rather than build a pair of ships from the keel up. In 1955 and 1956, Matson purchased two for conversion. The first to enter service was the 14,812 ton Mariposa in 1956. The versatility of welding was instrumental in converting the rugged freighter Pine Tree Mariner into the luxury ocean liner Mariposa whose ports of call were exotic locales in the South Seas. She was followed by sistership, Monterey, in 1957. The Monterey was built as the Free State Mariner in 1952, and converted into a cruiseship in 1957. The ships were austerely, but comfortably, decorated and had ample cargo capacity. Known for excellent service and cuisine and carrying only 336 first-class passengers, they quickly developed a following.

A third Mariner class vessel was purchased by American Banner Lines for conversion in 1957. Intended for a tourist-class transatlantic service, she carried only 40 first-class passengers and 860 in tourist-class. Influenced by Holland America’s Ryndam and Maasdam from 1951-52, the Atlantic’s tourist class would be very modern and comfortable, but very inexpensive. Measuring 14,138 tons, with a speed of 20 knots, Atlantic entered service in 1958 on the New York-Amsterdam run. However, the operation was not successful and Atlantic was withdrawn one year later. Shortly thereafter, she was brought by American Export Lines and renovated for New York-Mediterranean service.

1 Like

True when the Jones Act was written in 1920 before you or I were born, that might have been the case. Now the Jones Act should only be about protecting American jobs and security but the list go on and on as mariners…Look at our Infrastructure! The locks and dams EVERYWHERE are falling apart , then maybe we can think about oil spills, work injury prevention, mariner mental health etc etc etc. At the very end of the list and worst scenario should be war and shouldn’t we leave war to the Naval Academy? The Merchant Mariner I work with is loyal to his/her paycheck, we got 99 problems but going to War ain’t one.

1 Like

I have said before that the MM needs to sell itself as more than a national defense backstop, but make no mistake; you should be very grateful to have that argument in your back pocket. Otherwise your defined benefit from the Jones Act is “muh jobs”, and that argument didn’t save the textile industry, it didn’t save the paper industry, it didn’t save the steel industry, and it didn’t save the automotive industry. Given the choice of cheaper goods and services or employing Americans, the free market will always choose cheaper. I’m not saying it’s right, but it’s what is.

1 Like

and it has always been this way…but a government has the power through laws and financial incentives they can offer to overcome the inherent advantages of business choosing the cheapest option. they pass these laws and offer these incentives “for the Greater Good” of the Nation which often means for the defense of the state if not for its economic well being. In the US today there is NO CONCEPT of “for the Greater Good” and might instead be more akin to “for the Greater Greed”!

1 Like

That sounds like socialism :bananadance:

Wasn’t your kind purged in the 50’s?

Gotta keep dancing around the golden calf.

Which is ironic if you think about the Charging Bull on Wall Street.

1 Like

[quote=“Alan_Newport, post:13, topic:48393”]
I have said before that the MM needs to sell itself as more than a national defense backstop,[/quote]

I respectfully disagree, but understand your POV.

and it was the command economy where the means of production was fully and completely funded by the Federal Government which built the greatest fleet of merchant (and naval) ships the world has ever and will ever see!

the C4 Mariner ships were an offshoot of the WWII and Korean war experience where the Navy and MarAd saw a need for a large fast and wholly modern cargo ship to be available for US forces in wartime but instead of building and parking them like the LSMRs, they chose to build and have commercial operators charter them for their operations who at first were reluctant as the article I posted pointed out however these operators came to see these new ships were tremendous assets and soon were clamoring for more of them. There literally were no losers here…the shipyards won because the Mariners were all US built, the liner operators won because they got high quality modern ships at attractive rates, the seamen won because these ships provided jobs and the Federal Government won because they had these ships in the fleet with their seafarers to call upon when war loomed. In the end, I will imagine that whatever the cost was to built these 37 vessels every penny came back to the Federal Government in one fashion or another. A true maritime success story which could be replicated if there was a will in Washingtoon BUT THERE ISN’T ANY AT ALL however if the Secretary of Defense came out and said we need to do this, the Congress would say fine and would approve the funding through the Navy’s annual appropriation because the military is never denied by Congress. So why won’t Mattis do this? Because his talk is cheap and hollow and he really doesn’t give a SHIT just like the Whitehouse and Transportation Department. In fact there has not been anyone in Washingtoon to care about the US fleet in FOUR DECADES NOW!


If you invested a part of the DoD budget to build a fleet of modern ships, suitable for both commercial trade and military transport, and bare boat chartered them to US shipping companies at subsidized rates, you could possible have a modern fleet in a couple of decades, given today’s US shipbuilding capacity.

If you took those same money and bought ships on the international commercial market, you could build up a fleet in a couple of years. Let the US yards build useless war ships and ships for the Jones Act market, like today.

If you took the money that goes to wast maintaining a fleet of old and obsolete vessels in mothballs (and whatever you could get for them on the open scrap ship market), and used that to subsidize crew wages to a reasonable level, you cold maybe even be able to re-establish a competitive US merchant fleet in international trade.

It would break all international norms and OECD agreements on subsidies in shipping, but all international agreements and World Order (that America has been in the forefront of establishing) have gone by the wayside with the “America First/America alone” policy anyhow.

“Bow Jubail has a total personnel of 29, of which 27 Filipinos and two Scandinavians. The vessel is a 37,499 dwt chemical tanker, managed by Odfjell Management AS and registered in Norway.”

Tell us again why we should be following Norway’s example?

Where do you see that the nationality of the crew had anything to do with this incident??

Can we assume that every time a US flag vessel is involved in an accident of any kind it is because the crew are all Americans??