What does MARAD do?

On another post we discovered that, according to the American Merchant Seaman’s manual, the Maritime Administration (MARAD) is suppose to offer us training… but they closed down GMATS, RADAR and firefighting schools.

We know that they administer Kings Point… but that school has been riddled with multiple scandals.

They are suppose to advocate for the American Flag… but the number, age and quality of ships flying that flag is at an all time low.

They run the Trainjng Ships for the state academies… but the best smtraining ship we have is 57 years old!

The run the ready reserve fleet but that fleetnis aging and hasn’t seen a new ship in how long?

They run the Mariners Outreach Program… but it’s totally out of date because they can’t even sync it with the uscg database and they don’t advertise the program.

They are suppose to advocate for US Mariners but I don’t see them posting here and they have never called gCaptain to publish an article.

They are suppose to give grants and such to innovative ideas in shipping but the last grant on their newsroom page was in 2015.

I do know that they do some minor stuff for wealthy ship owners and shipyard executives (I know this because gCaptain goes to a lot of conferences and the only place we run into MARAD are at expensive ship finance type events) but I’m not sure what exactly.

I know there is lot they are suppose to be doing (according to the book The Abandonded Ocean) but I never hear from them. What are they suppose to be doing for us?

So what does MARAD actually do for us Mariners?


Thank You, seriously it’s kinda of a joke at this point.

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Provide shore jobs for kings pointers…


Why have training ships?

Cadet shipping makes a lot more sense and is a lot cheaper.

Not me. . . .

Then why aren’t I laughing?

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MARAD keeps a model ship collection that represents what once was. The drones who walk the halls probably never even give a thought as to what those ships did for our nation and the industrial capacity that produced them or the men who sailed them.

It is a sad commentary on an agency which was established “to further the development and maintenance of an adequate and well-balanced American merchant marine, to promote the commerce of the United States, (and) to aid in the national defense …”

What does MARAD do? Not much. It provides office space where oxygen is converted to CO2 by people who could care less about the US merchant marine or American mariners.


MARAD does an excellent job of maintaining an Indiana Jones-type warehouse of every clock, doorknob, wheel, nameboard, inclinometer, binnacle and gyro systems from all the ships to have ever been in their mothball fleets. Of course, all of these items are never going to be used again, but they are all well cataloged and kept at the ready for use in the event that the Victory Ship fleet is put to sea again…


Yeah, should have mentioned that. I was on the Export Aide and Export Adventurer in Oakland before they were moved to the Reserve Fleet, we were scrounging parts for another RRF ship.

The chart room was stuffed with nautical antiques that made your mouth water but were untouchable because they were headed for the big warehouse. I suspect there are very few MARAD weenies who don’t have a man cave stuffed with memorabilia of things they never saw in use and probably don’t even know what it was used for.

The stuff probably makes good cumshaw for congressional parasites.

the bigger question is what does MarAd actually do to foster their mandate which is officially

The Maritime Administration is the agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation dealing with waterborne transportation. Its programs promote the use of waterborne transportation and its seamless integration with other segments of the transportation system, and the viability of the U.S. merchant marine. The Maritime Administration works in many areas involving ships and shipping, shipbuilding, port operations, vessel operations, national security, environment, and safety. The Maritime Administration is also charged with maintaining the health of the merchant marine, since commercial mariners, vessels, and intermodal facilities are vital for supporting national security, and so the agency provides support and information for current mariners, extensive support for educating future mariners, and programs to educate America’s young people about the vital role the maritime industry plays in the lives of all Americans.

so in what form do they fulfill their delegated duties? they seem to love assisting ports these days which is principally to support foreign ships carrying foreign made import goods to the US and we all know how much they believe KP is their crown jewel of their existence however we also know what a miserable joke that place is with regards to educating the whole of the US mariner community.

John, you seem to be more active in the forum these days which I applaud and you are asking some hard questions well worthy of asking however this little forum is not a venue to have any influence in Washington. These hard questions need to be asked in places that are read by the policy makers. How does the call for change be made in a way to be heard? How to have a voice that is loud and clear which is a combined voice of all of us (more than 100k) US citizen merchant mariners? You know my call for a unified association of US mariners which i have called for you to lead and am wondering if these commentaries of yours might be a small step towards creating such an association? You would have my unflagging support if you were to do this and I would be honored to help you in any way possible if you were to. We need this and you are the right man in the right place to be our voice.


IDK what the answer is. I honestly don’t.

The source of my frustration is the Fitzgerald and McCain collisions. We got A LOT of flak from the Navy for our articles and that got me thinking… what do they have to hide?

So I started researchig the Navy fairly heavily and the more I read, the more I worried I have become. I can’t go into detail (that would require writing an entire book) but, in short we are screwed if China attacks. Utterly screwed. We are also in bad shape against Russia.

I’m not an alarmist, just a realist, and the reality wer are in a lot worse shape than most Merchant Mariners realise and if a helluva worse shape in terms of sealift potential than the pentagon understands.

The USCG too has been essentially gutted by a lack of funding.

The one organization that should understand all this is MARAD but I can’t figure out why they aren’t sounding the alarm or doing anything about this.

I, like most mariners, don’t have a strong desire to do anything related to the Navy… but… I am feustrated.

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painfully obvious to me for more than a decade now…the great and glorious US Navy of Nimitz, Spruance, Halsey, et all is now only a distant memory and the US Navee of 2018 in no way shape or form can be considered a descendant of that awesome fleet. When we before had men of steel in charge of the fleet, today it is being commanded by men (and ladies) of plastic and paper. (They don’t even rate being called aluminum or wood.)

this is only a part of the great decline of this Nation’s world influence and we will be lucky if in the end we don’t fare much worse than Britain’s fall from being the world’s great power. Certainly, the UK has not become mired in the morass of debt like us (is it $20trillion now?) which will be ultimately be fatal for this country.

You are just now realizing this? Have you not been paying attention the last 20 years?

I call bullshit! (See also: $1billion ice breaker) Funding for all the military organizations has only gone UP and UP over the years. Even during “sequestration”, no real cuts were made or efficiency gains found.

There has been no prioritization in the military or ANY government program since 9/11. The Navy bitches that “funding was cut for training.” Bullshit. How much $$ did they spend on worthless ships and a damn catapult system that can’t be isolated to allow repair of one unit while the others launch. How about the rail gun, that finally has been canceled?

And of course, don’t forget the wonderful f35 joint strike failure. Question: How many yeas did it take to go from idea to usable flying preliminary model for the SR-71?

The point is, bureaucrats ALWAYS say the problem is lack of funding–even when their budgets are larger than ever. If my personal income is cut 50%, and I continue to eat steak dinners 6 nights a week, then nobody should feel sorry for me because I can’t afford my rent. I obviously did not prioritize my spending.


I fully agree when it comes to the navy… just not sold on the uscg. The Zumwalt costs $4.5 Billion and is nearly useless (e.g. poor visibility, not fully stealth, ammo to expensive to equip) and we are building 4 while a heavy icebreaker is $1 billion, very usefull and we aren’t building one (yet).

Why invest $$$ billions in a single ship that can be easily disabled or sunk by a single missile? Or a basic navigation error?

A nuclear submarine warrants an investment of $ billions because its hard to find and sink, and it has tremendous attack capabilities.

Every ship is missle bait. What we need is a lot of simple, relatively cheap and expendable ships.

$4.5 Billion will buy 45 ships that cost a $100 million each.

If ships were built in a series 100 identical ships over a relatively short period they would also be a lot cheaper. That would also rebuild US shipyard capacity.

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Which is exactly what china is doing.

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The USCG needs a lot of smaller simpler ships with smaller crews that can maintain a large presence off our coasts.

Instead, the USCG wastes money on a small number of super expensive bigger overly complicated ships.

The USCG has a golden opportunity to go out and buy 100s of ridiculously cheap and very capable laid up OSVs on the world market. They probably could buy 100 good OSVs for $1 Billion. These OSVs would be adequate for most of the work that the USCG needs to do. They would also give the USCG a much larger on scene presence off our coasts.

Headline from Tradewinds, Nov. 17. 2017:

Sorry, I’m mot a subscriber, but the headline say enough.

Climbing on my historian’s soap box for a minute…

The reason for a navy, in simple terms, is to patrol/protect/maintain the sealanes for a nation’s commerce (merchant ships), the “commons” of Mahan. Our navy was rebuilt prior to the War of 1812 to keep our merchant fleet safe from the French (Quasi War of 1787) and piracy on the Med. While modern navy’s focus on power projection, the protection of commerce is still important yet, from my view, our deep sea fleet is so small we are essentially giving a freebie to FoC ships so mega-box stores are stocked and our appetite for oil is met.

Our navy is still nominally top-dog in the world but we are pressed hard in certain regions. Top leadership have failed out sailors and, by extension, the very ships, men, and women of the merchant fleet they are there to protect! No one wants to consider the implications of a large scale conflict but the merchant mariners will answer the call and once again out to sea in older ships to support the military. It will likely be costly and I have no idea how to fix it quickly.

Lets start by taking the $4.5B from the last zumwalt , giving two to the uscg for a pair of heavy icebreakers and the remainder to marad to purchase ships for artic sealift needs. (Of course you’d probably have to shake up bothnorganizations to do so). That would probably be enough to keep Russia in check (considering the russia navy has never once won a battle at sea and has many issue of their own).

Once Russia is in check we start in China by signing a lend-lease agreement with the phillipines.

While all this is going on we restart the USMS to provide free stcw training and liscense upgrade training to US mariners in exchange for training in naval operations.

That would be a start.

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