Administration to Dismantle U.S. Merchant Marine?

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by nywrit62, Mar 13, 2013.

  1. nywrit62

    nywrit62 DevotedDAD

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    According to Tony Munoz, Editor of Maritime Executive, in a Feb 27, 2013 editorial,"As the administration and Congress continue to batter the American psyche with doomsday terms like “debt ceiling,” “fiscal cliff” and “sequestration,” the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has been busy behind the scenes dismantling the U.S. Merchant Marine.

    The article states that the intent of the admin is on ending USMM operations. He talks about increased Jone's Act waivers, and decreased cargo preference shipments of food aid from 75% to 50%.

    Mr. Munoz wrote, "Now it intends to write the final chapter of the USMM with the scribble of a pen on another backroom deal."


    *Note: Please excuse me if I posted this in error. I am new to to board. My DS who is desirous of both the USMMA and USNA asked me to subscribe to the magazine and I just saw this article and posted it. I do not render an opinion. I have not a clue of the Merchant Marine operations.
     
  2. rebelyell

    rebelyell New Member

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    I was provided this same article from a person who works as a consultant to US shipping companies. The gist of it from what he told me was that the intent of this administration is to grant Jones Act waivers across the board. Apparently, the idea is that this White House would rather send money to developing countries to facilitate teaching other them how to farm vs sending food grown in the US on US flagged ships.

    I also have a HS senior who is currently on waiting on "hold" for an appointment to the USMMA.
     
  3. nywrit62

    nywrit62 DevotedDAD

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    RE: Maritime Article

    Thank you for clarifying. At first glance it reminded me of the proverb,"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Chinese proverb. The International Thesaurus of Quotations, ed. Rhoda Thomas Tripp, p. 76, no. 3 (1970). Learning how to farm rather then being given food may/may not be in the best long term interests of developing countries.

    My question now comes to U.S. national security and the maritime industry. According to Wikipedia, between 1874 and 1936, diverse federal legislation supported maritime training through schoolships, internships at sea and other methods. A fire killing 134 on the SS Morro Castle in 1934, convinced the U.S. Congress that direct federal involvement in efficient and standardized training was needed.

    Congress passed the landmark Merchant Marine Act in 1936, and two years later, the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps was started which led to Kings Point, in early 1942. The Academy was dedicated on September 30, 1943, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who noted that "the Academy serves the Merchant Marine as West Point serves the Army and Annapolis the Navy."

    World War II required the Academy to forego its normal operation and to devote all of its resources toward meeting the emergency need for Merchant Marine officers. In spite of the war, shipboard training continued to be an integral part of the Academy curriculum, and midshipmen served at sea in combat zones the world over. One hundred and forty-two midshipmen gave their lives in service to their country, and many others survived torpedo and aerial attacks. From 1942-1945, the Academy graduated 6,895 officers. As the war drew to a close, plans were made to convert the Academy's wartime curriculum to a four-year, college-level program to meet the peacetime requirements of the merchant marine. In 1948, such a course was instituted.

    Recently I had read that the long term focus was on re-building the infrastructure of the USMMA with a goal of making it the preeminent service academy.

    With this current administrations redirect regarding the U.S. maritime industry, how will it affect the future mission of the USMMA?
     
  4. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    The US Merchant Marine does not exist as a singular entity and can't be "dismantled" by any administration. It is an industry that extends far beyond cargo preferences for US food aid. Not all food aid preferences require that 75% be shipped on US flag vessels, some food aid is exempted entirely from the requirement. These same preferences were “only” 50% prior 1985 anyway.

    The USCG as regulators do more to drive US owned vessels to foreign flags and “dismantle” the US Merchant Marine than reducing a cargo preference by 33% which only affects, at most, 33% of US vessels.

    The need for deep sea mariners has been shrinking for centuries. As ships get bigger, the same amount of cargo is shipped on fewer ships. As technology advances, smaller crews are needed to operate the smaller number of ships. In truth, most US ships are over-manned by international standards. The nature of inland shipping is changing to in favor of the Academies. Companies are requiring a higher level of training and licenses than they used to and this is where more and more Academy grads ending up. I sailed with one who said he went to KP with the intention all along of going the inland route.
     
  5. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    But let's ignore unions... please.


    But you're correct, enforcing standards will drive those looking to cut corners to less heavily enforced standards. But then, how much fun would we really have if a steam ship wasn't blowing up every now and then, right?

    And yes, there is a noticable difference between the two, in some instances.
     
  6. Navy4ever

    Navy4ever Member

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  7. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    I didn't say the unions are blameless. The thread is about what the government is/isn't doing so I restricted my comments to that.

    Riiiiiight ... No one else has any standards. The US is the only country in the world with a professional enforcement structure without overburdeneing the company and the mariner. So doing something efficiently automatically means cutting corners? Have you ever tried dealing with them from the outside? Have you ever read CFR 46?

    I had license evaluators try to tell me the MSM was obselete and all he could come up with was "my LCDR told me so". When I took my Chief's exam I had a question about the CFR reference for the proper of method to use when plugging in portable hand tools. God forbid you need an official interpretation of a regulation, that will take 30 days for the USCG to respond. I know people who sail foreign flag, they can make a phone call to their flag state and get an answer in 5 min. I suppose that's the unions' fault too.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2013
  8. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Merchant fleet has a pretty easy position. We need less regulations. The Coast Guard is to blame because of the laws and regulations they enforce. Of course, when there is an emergency arrising from something that could have been enforced the Coast Guard is also to blame.

    I heard from a retired senator the other day. The United Kingdom had two exchanges (think two New York Stock Exchanges). One was regulated by the FSA, the other fairly open.

    The argument was "the regulations are pushing companies to list on the less regulated exchange." And sure, some did. Some fair dark Russian companies listed. And you know what eventually happened? Eventually there were issues and investors lost a lot of money.

    Would I rather fly on Southwest Airlines or GoobieGoobie Airlines from Somalia (I made that up)? Southwest. Yes, it's cheaper to have no regulations. Maybe it's even more fun for the companies that can avoid the regulations. But it's not safer.

    It's easy to play the victim.
     
  9. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    Do you know anything about foreign flags and how they operate? Do you know what the IMO is? There are flags with many times the number of vessels as the US. Most of them never get detained by PSC. Most of them never suffer any kind of accidents or casualties. How can that be? They must just be lucky I guess.

    Your straw man of a completely unregulated industry doesn't fly either. You can be just as safe with less and less doesn't mean none.
     
  10. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Yes and Yes for the first two questions.

    Guess either they're lucky, or they in fact, do have accidents or casualties.

    It's not a straw man. There are highly regulated industries that, while more costly are also safer, and less regulated industries, that are less costly but also riskier.

    If we allow for finite resources, well, then those resources are allocated in certain ways. Why spend money on a regulation that doesn't exist when you could cushion profits or upgrade? I wouldn't. So sure, that money goes elsewhere, but what is often the purpose of a regulation? Safety and security.

    Is the aviation community that much different from the merchant marine. Some airlines operate in countries with heavy regulations. Some don't.

    Frankly, if our merchant fleet hasn't figured out how to be profitable over the centuries, despite the regulations, then maybe it never will.

    Here's a question I'm not sure you'd want to answer. If the U.S. Merchant Marine ceased to exist tomorrow, how would the every-day American feel it? Would they? Would prices go up or down? That's the question that I'm interested in.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2013
  11. kpcrew

    kpcrew Member

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    Oh my, someone has a bug up their butt! Is this forum degenerating into another gCaptain?
     
  12. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Seems like a very big move by a federal government that tends to move in small ways.

    Here's the question though. In the unlikely event this actually did happen, what would change for the U.S.?
     
  13. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    But it is a straw man. You made an argument as though the only other option to the US Flag is zero regulation whatsoever. That is just simply not the case. There are 170 members of the IMO, most of whom provide just as much oversight of their respective fleets but in a manner more realistic to actually operating vessels as opposed to sitting in the theoretical vacuum of a USCG office.

    That presupposses a static level of regulations which could not be further from the truth. Its really more about the opportunity cost than the monetary cost, both of which gets passed on to the consumer.

    That was the point of my original post in this thread. This supposed "dismantling" isn't, and even if it was it would be full of sound and fury, signifying not much.
     
  14. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Then there is no hope.
     
  15. 2009KPer

    2009KPer Member

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    USCG regulations are certainly an issue to some extent. Let's face it - they're really not inherently the right people for the task, especially since they made the transition to DHS. This is akin to asking the USAF (under the DoD) to regulate airlines. Nobody would think that's a good idea.

    But the big thing I see, particularly in the oil-trade sector, is the ridiculous burdens that Safety Management Systems are now placing on vessel crews. They are getting out of control and are actually becoming a detriment to safety. Some of these systems are the result of international agreements (via the IMO, which I have yet to figure out why they should have any say in U.S. coastwise trade) and the oil companies through their vetters who (since the industry was largely cleaned-up) are now more in job-security mode, nitpicking the most minute of details on thing which have absolutely no tangible effect to make anything safer.

    Frankly, until/unless you get put into the current environment that we are operating in, you can't fully understand it. I work on an ATB. I'm the only person in the wheelhouse during my watch. I work 6x6 mostly. When I'm spending 90% of my watch doing paperwork, filling out endless forms, printing them (only to sign and then scan back in) and not paying the kind of attention to what's going on outside that I should be, something is wrong. How are we any safer?
     
  16. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    The IMO has a say in US Coastwise trade because the USCG says they do. USCG regulations are an extension of IMO regulations (SOLAS, MARPOL, LSA, etc.) The USCG can grant waivers and exemptions if they want to. If they want to, they can exempt a vessel from SOLAS requirements which operates solely within a nations territorial waters. How easy do you think that would be? How loooooong do you think that would take?

    I didn’t think my SMS requirements were that much as an engineer on an ATB. It was only about an hour a day of paperwork and I would do it in the evening when things were quiet. I actually didn’t mind as it would break up my boredom a little bit. The bigger hassle was the company not recognizing the ability to utilize modern technology in carrying out the SMS. Like you said about the printing, scanning and e-mailing. Plus, then we would keep paper copies on the boat and I would also have to send paper copies in to the office. Believe it or not, SMS does make you safer overall. How many injuries are prevented by a correctly done Job Hazard Analysis? How much routine maintenance and inspections would go undone without your checklist? I know it’s tedious, but I’ve been on non SMS vessels and SMS vessels and I can tell you I felt a whole lot safer with an SMS in place.
     
  17. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Make the case. Why shouldn't the U.S. Merchant Marine be "broken up?" What do we lose and gain?

    Or do you think it's acceptable to not have the merchant marine, and if not, why have the Merchant Marine Academy?
     
  18. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    Is it your position that the US Government should criminalize the US sector of an industry that has existed for most of recorded human history? That is what would have to happen for the US Merchant Marine to be “broken up”.
     
  19. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    It's not my position that the Merchant Marine should be broken up. But then, the U.S. election hasn't gone my way the past 8 years and I'm not the portion of the electorate you have to convince.

    I'm not sure what you mean by criminilizing, but if it has anything to do with regulations, it's important to remember that the U.S. federal government tends to be "reactive". So what has the industry screwed up enough to have regulations created?

    That's not the important question. The important one is.... why have a Merchant Marine. "It's old" doesn't cut it.
     
  20. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ...

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    When you ask the question that way it implies that your position is that the US Merchant Marine should be broken up. The only way for private industry to be "broken up" is to criminalize it. I sense that "Should the US continue to subsidize the industry?" might be the better question.

    Not only is the government reactive, but it reacts so slow that by the time regulations are actually put into place they are by and large obselete.

    As long as there are vessels that fly the US flag, even if they never leave US territorial waters, there will be a need for Maritime Academies.
     

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