US Cargo Preference Laws- A Possible Violation?

NASA used a Non-US Flag vessel to ship their space telescope from California to French Guyana.
No wonder we don’t have a strong US Flag Merchant Marine- when US Government Agencies don’t even bother to use US Flag vessels to move government cargo

How to Ship the World’s Largest Space Telescope Across the Ocean | NASA

1 Like

Here’s the Cargo Preference Law;

Civilian Agencies Cargo | MARAD (

Maybe the new Maritime Administrator should start with enforcing these laws…

MARAD does not have Cargo Preference legal enforcement authority, it only monitors compliance with Cargo Preference to the extent it receives bills of ladings after shipments occur.

Really ? We know this. They should still be referring this for scrutiny by the proper agencies- As far as I can remember- The FAR REQUIRES government agencies to fully vett and exhaust ALL US Flag options BEFORE shipment.

MSC and the DLA got away with sending massive amounts of military and government cargo on foreign flag ships- under the excuse “No US Flag Vessels available”- In this instance there is at least one US shipping concern which could have transported this cargo…

I would be curious to see your comparison of the French vessel vs what US vessel was designed or capable of transporting this. It would be interesting to know.

Easy, just look up some of our MSP vessels, one company had at least two vessels capable of this cargo lift… And not long ago had ships on a round South America run… And barring that- then activate a MARAD ship…

Checking further- there were MORE than two vessels capable of handling this cargo… Remember PCTC vessels with heavy ramps can make quick work of this lift- including one that has been “tramping” government and military cargo- with sufficient deck height and ramp capacity…

Again, not familiar with the 18 ROROs in the MSP program, the only vessel I know of that handles rockets is FOSS Maritimes RS ROCKETSHIP, which I assume was capable.

No, but the administrator has a “bully pulpit” from which to call foul.

Silence from those who are charged with promoting the US maritime industry and those who are charged with enforcing maritime laws is equivalent to violating those laws.

1 Like

Doesn’t seem to be working that well. What I do when things don’t work, is try to change and adapt, figure out why. But, that’s government, and does anyone really expect anything different.

46 CFR 381.2(c) - Department or agency having responsibility under the Cargo Preference Act of 1954 means any department or agency of the Federal Government, administering a program that involves the transportation on ocean vessels of cargoes subject to the Cargo Preference Act of 1954. At present, these agencies include:

(7) National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

However, it’s not clear that government agencies subject to the act moving cargo they already own from one location to another for their own use are cargoes subject to the act.

46 CFR 381.2(b) Cargoes subject to the Cargo Preference Act of 1954, include equipment, material or commodities:

  • Procured, contracted for or otherwise obtained within or outside the United States for the account of the United States;
  • Furnished within or outside the United States to or for the account of any foreign nation without provision for reimbursement;
  • Furnished within or outside the United States for the account of any foreign nation in connection with which the United States advances funds or credits or guarantees the convertability of foreign currencies.
  • Procured, contracted for, or otherwise obtained within or outside of the United States with advance of funds, loans or guaranties made by or on behalf of the United States.

Feel free to call MARAD and ask them

46 CFR 381.6 - Whenever any person has a question, problem, complaint, grievance, or controversy pertaining to the terms and conditions of any tenders, charter party terms, or other matter involving the administration of the Cargo Preference Act of 1954, such person may request the Maritime Administration to afford him an opportunity to discuss the matter informally with representatives of the Maritime Administration and, if other U.S. Government agencies or foreign missions, embassies, or agencies acting on behalf of a foreign government are involved with them or persons authorized to speak for them.

1 Like