Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
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60 Proceedings Summer 2016 www.uscg.mil/proceedings However, the U.S.-flagged international fleet has declined steadily since the end of World War II. The U.S. oceangoing merchant marine fleet has declined by 82 percent since 1951, when the fleet peaked at 1,268 vessels. 1 At the end of 2014, the U.S.-flagged international fleet was down to 73 vessels. 2 There are multiple reasons for this decline in fleet size — the growth or rebuilding of other countries' economies, the rise of flags of convenience, and the sale of American-owned shipping lines to foreign interests, to name a few. Holding on to remaining American vessels is a national security priority. Cargo Preference Laws Cargo preference is the reservation by law for transportation on U.S.-flagged vessels of all, or a portion of all, oceanborne cargo that moves in international trade either as a direct result of the federal government's involve- ment, or indirectly because of the financial sponsorship of a federal program or federal government guarantee. U.S. cargo prefer- ence laws are part of the overall statutory program to support the privately owned and operated U.S.-flagged fleet and mer- chant marine. (Note: This article does not deal with the Jones Act fleet, which are U.S.- flagged vessels trading within the United States and its territories.) For U.S.-flagged operators operating in international trade, preference cargoes are the key incentive to remain under U.S. reg- istry, providing a vital cargo base to help offset foreign flag cost advantages. On October 30, 2015, American Roll-on Roll-off Carrier (ARC)'s M/V Endurance moored at the port of Shubai, Kuwait, and discharged a mix of tanks, trucks, tractors, wreckers, fuel tanks, and cargo handlers to replenish stocks at Camp Arifjan. While Endurance is among the most militarily use- ful, multipurpose, and largest roll-on/roll-off vessels in the world, she is also one of a small number of commercial cargo vessels trading internationally in the U.S.-flagged fleet. The U.S.-flagged international fleet today relies on several key policies devised to underpin a pressing national secu- rity need: having an American-flagged commercial fleet available for the military in a time of war. With such avail- ability, the military has American-owned and -crewed ves- sels to rely upon rather than counting on foreign vessels to support American aims. Shifting Tides The importance of holding on to the American-flagged commercial fleet. by Mr. Charles d I or I o General Manager American Roll-on Roll-off Carrier Regions American Roll-on Roll-off Carrier's M/V Endurance discharges U.S. Army cargo at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. All photos courtesy of American Roll-on Roll-off Carrier.