Why The US Merchant Marine Is Failing


I’m sure Fraq left due to the trolling by our resident Norwegian. Just one more casualty in the war by globalists against our Merchant Fleet.


well I for one am a firm believer in the massive retaliatory strike instead of heading for shelter but so far our resident Norske pest has managed to survive all manner of weapons used against him…he’s downright indestructible!

as for the departure of Fraq…all I can say is if he is reading this I hope the day comes when he shall return to us but if not, for him “to write if you get work and be sure to hang by your thumbs”


Well maybe Fraqrat has finally taken up the position as Ambassador to Norway, since nobody else has been willing to take such hardship posting?

He hasn’t posted since Febr. but Last seen 24 May according to his profile, so he is probably looking in to see how we are getting on without him.

I second that. This place is not the same without his wit and pointed comments.


I think you are wrong on two points:
The sparing with Fraqrat was enjoyable and not melious on either side.
I’m not “against your Merchant fleet”, but do not think you are gaining anything by isolating yourself from competition, which is NOT from “3rd World Villagers”, but from old and outdated laws, rules and ships.
You are right that I’m a “globalist”, if by that you mean I have no animosity towards any nationalities, or any problem with free and open markets in the world. I have benefitted from the freedom to travel, work and live wherever I wanted and the ability to trade freely in a globalized world.

Thanks for the confidence in my “indestructibility”. You have certainly done your best to discourage me and any other foreigner from adding any “contradictory” idea about the world into the minds of the members here.
Heaven forbid that somebody actually got any ideas that things can be done differently from the accepted way of thinking.

It’s been mostly enjoyable though!!


Free trade increases access to higher-quality, lower-priced goods. … Freeing trade reduces imported-input costs, thus reducing businesses’ production costs and promoting economic growth. Free trade improves efficiency and innovation.

All this is true. But as part of this process, free trade produces winners and losers within particular national industries. Allowed to progress in an uninhibited manner, free trade will not usually result in an overall decrease in jobs. But someone who might have wanted to go to sea may have to settle for an information technology career in Seattle instead. While free and open markets are undeniably good for the economy as a whole, there are national security issues that warrant consideration of some form of cabotage to keep the industry from disappearing entirely.


That is the kernel. Free trade will force inefficient national industries to compete in an international market rather than relying on domestic markets. In the UK in the 70’s and 80’s the car industry was on it’s knees with dated products, poor quality, poor management and confrontational as opposed to co-operative unions. Over the past 20+ years this has turned around with Jaguar Landrover, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Bentley, Rolls etc all making cars both for domestic and export markets. All due to free trade.

In the 1930’s having protectionist policies (including the Jones Act) could be justified, but look at the economic background.

International trade volumes were miniscule compared to today.

Consumer goods were almost non-existent - valve radios, domestic furniture and early automobiles, bicycles etc, so to trade these internationally was slow and pro rata very expensive.

In a day of car carriers and box boats, and with globalization free trade is essential. No country can be an island, even our friend Kim has come in from the cold so perhaps Trump’s stance is a negotiation ploy.

The US ( & Canadian) coastal industry is a geographically isolated maritime system. It can and should thrive with modern, fast cargo efficient vessels. Manning by so called 3rd world villagers will be unlikely - flight costs, visas, work permits, insurance etc will reduce the economic advantage.

Such systems happily exist with free trade - Russia - Volga Don max vessels (Russia, Ukraine, Iran etc)

North Europe Short sea with vessels to fit the various waterways - Kiel canal etc. Both systems overlap in the Baltic and Med, but both are systems that have evolved through free trade.

Just mu 2c from across the pond.




John…did you ever speak with Admiral Buzby?


No, he hasn’t called again.


BLOODY HELL! but I am going to be nice and not use my pointy stick

still the guy called you saying he would call again at a better time then nothing…not cool

Admiral, if you read this please call John…he is a voice for all of us frustrated American mariners who only wants what is best for the industry and Nation.


But that is what made your anti-KP rants so darn entertaining.


So why is the US merchant marine failing???

Could it be we are failing just like the other marine powers have failed??

My question is what’s it going to take to get competitive is it even possible.


They haven’t all failed. I think Germany and Japan have a vibrant merchant fleet.


German flag shipping is something to be emulated for sure. Impeccably maintained vessels, a couple schlenkelle’s after dinner, and backed by a society with an almost mythic reverence for seafaring as a profession. That last one is what makes the difference in my opinion. If the general public in America had any interest in the maritime industry at all we would all be better off. Maybe some level of political traction beyond the annual “sail in” to Congress I see pictures of every year in the union rag. It seems like everyone you interact with has known a friend or family member who was in the navy but maybe one in a hundred know someone who sailed commercially in any capacity.

In Germany the port cities on the North Sea are tourist attractions and you see tour buses randomly down on the quayside. The people are proud of their heritage and interested in what makes their economy tick. That is a fundamental difference between our two countries in my opinion and one that I don’t see changing any time soon unfortunately.


How many flag states use their countries nationals for unlicensed for the deep-sea fleet like the U.S. does? Does Japan or Germany?

What about the junior officers? It used to be common to see ships with a Japanese Captain and C/E and the rest of the crew Filipino but I don’t think so much now.

It’s not sustainable long-term, once the old-timers retire no replacement coming up the ranks.

This is from 4 years ago:
Japan Shipowners and Mariners Management Associations Express Confidence on Skills of Filipino Seafarers Working Aboard Japanese Flag and Owned/Operated Merchant Ships

Filipino seafarers with Japanese license or certificates comprise about 70% or 4,477 seamen of the total number of foreign seafarers working aboard Japanese flag merchant ships


Could be said about the majority, if not all, coastal European countries, especially up north. Wonder where America lost it…


America has significantly more ‘interior’ than any of those countries.


That’s what I thought… until I discovered that general ignorance on the subject is just as widespread in a lot of near coastal areas, save for perhaps New England


Lots of “inland people” in Europe as well, if you count Europe as a whole.
The Scandinavians, Dutch, British, Portuguese and Spaniards explored the world in search for trade for centuries before the US even existed, thus it should be no surprise the seafaring has a different standing among Europeans.

America didn’t loose it, they never had it!!
America was and is more of an agrarian nation than a seafaring nation. Traditionally commercial shipping and whaling was concentrated on the NE and NW coast, with little or no interest by the wast majority of settlers who lived in the interior.

A VEERY brief history of US commercial shipping in the 1800’s:

And in the 1900’s:

The two World Wars were boom time for US shipping. In the years after WWII USA was dominant in world trade, with a large fleet of ships built up for the war effort, but as the rest of the world regained it’s strength and rebuilt it’s fleet with modern ships, this dominance faded. By the end of the century there were only a skeleton US flag fleet left on life support.


And each of those countries is the size of a small US state.


Yes, but Americans are Americans, not Marylanders or Massachusettsers, etc. The national culture overrides the local culture in most regards in most places.