10 ways to rebuild the U.S. Merchant Marine
The United States Merchant Marine was the envy of the world by the end of World War 2. And all through the 19th and early 20th century the merchant navies of the United States and Great Britain vied for supremacy on the trade routes of the world. No longer. While the industry still recognizes that both the U.S. and the U.K produce highly competent and professional merchant mariners; the vast majority sail on foreign ships.
The U.S. Merchant Marine has been in decline for more than half a century at this point. Is it even possible in today's world of globalization to re-invigorate the industry. Or is this yet another sector of manufacturing and production that cannot survive.
A strong Merchant Marine serving in blue water domestic and foreign trade is an important component to our national security. Here are some ideas on how to get it back. With some help from my AI alter ego.
1. Increase funding for maritime education and training programs
For the first time in many years, we are seeing some movement by the U.S. federal government on this. A new class of training ships known as the National Security Multi-Mission Vessel (NSMV)are being built and delivered. By investing in comprehensive maritime education and training programs, we can attract and develop a new generation of skilled seafarers who will be equipped to navigate the challenges of the modern maritime industry.
2. Promote career opportunities in the Merchant Marine
We must actively promote the career opportunities available in the Merchant Marine to young people. By highlighting the benefits and rewards of a career at sea, we can inspire a new wave of talent to join this critical sector. There is 1 Federal, 6 State, and numerous other private or industry schools in the U.S. How many can you name? How many can your daughter or son name?
3. Enhance collaboration between government and industry
Close collaboration between government agencies and the maritime industry is essential for the growth and success of the Merchant Marine. By working together, we can develop policies and initiatives that support the industry's needs and ensure its long-term viability.
4. Expand the fleet of U.S.-flagged vessels
Increasing the number of U.S.-flagged vessels in operation is crucial for the prosperity of the Merchant Marine. By providing incentives and support for shipowners to register their vessels under the U.S. flag, we can bolster our maritime capabilities and strengthen our national security.
Currently there are two programs that promote this. One is the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 "The Jones Act". The other is the Maritime Security Program. This is a financial incentive for U.S. companies to maintain ships in service in the international trade that would be potentially useful to the U.S. government in times of national emergency.
5. Modernize infrastructure and port facilities
Upgrading and modernizing our maritime infrastructure and port facilities is essential for the efficient operation of the Merchant Marine. By investing in state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, we can attract more shipping companies and enhance the competitiveness of our ports.
6. Streamline regulatory processes
A major component of world shipping today is the idea of "Flags of Convenience". In layman terms, some country's make it cheaper and easier to for companies to register their ships than others. And the costs and regulations going forward each year are less expensive as well. Companies recognize this and hasten to take advantage. And Flags of Convenience nations reap great influxes of fees, taxes, and renewals with almost not additional administrative cost.
Simplifying and streamlining the regulatory processes that govern the maritime industry will reduce administrative burdens and encourage investment. By creating a more business-friendly environment, we can attract new investments and stimulate growth in the Merchant Marine.
7. Encourage public-private partnerships
Public-private partnerships can play a significant role in rebuilding the Merchant Marine. By fostering collaboration between government entities and private companies, we can leverage resources and expertise to support the industry's development.
8. Expand international trade agreements
Strengthening international trade agreements that promote fair and open competition for U.S. shipping companies will create new opportunities for the Merchant Marine. By breaking down trade barriers and ensuring a level playing field, we can expand market access for U.S.-flagged vessels.
9. Invest in research and development
Continued investment in research and development will drive innovation in the maritime industry. By supporting research initiatives focused on sustainable shipping practices, alternative fuels, and advanced technologies, we can position the Merchant Marine at the forefront of the global maritime sector.
10. Foster a culture of pride and patriotism
Finally, we must foster a culture of pride and patriotism in the Merchant Marine. By celebrating the contributions of our seafarers and recognizing the importance of the industry to our national security and economic prosperity, we can inspire a sense of purpose and dedication among those who serve in this vital sector.
Rebuilding the U.S. Merchant Marine will require a concerted effort from government, industry, and the public. By implementing these 10 strategies, we can strengthen this critical sector and ensure its continued success for generations to come.