Proceedings Summer 2016
the Korean War, and the Maritime Security Program follow-
ing Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
With Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom now
in the rearview mirror, what is next for U.S. maritime pol-
icy? As we encounter another change in the tide, the time
for action is now — before the already-small U.S.-flagged
fleet further shrinks. Strengthening the Maritime Security
Program, both the vessel stipend and vessel age provisions,
is a place to start.
About the author:
Charles Diorio is a general manager at American Roll-on Roll-off Carrier.
He is a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and retired as a captain
from the Coast Guard Reserve.
"Study of the Impediments to U.S.-Flag Registry Final Report," Price Waterhouse
Coopers, September 20, 2011.
U.S. Maritime Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, "A Report
to Congress — Impacts of Reductions in Government Impelled Cargo on the U.S.
Merchant Marine," April 21, 2015.
Maritime Security Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104–239 as amended (46 U.S.C. App.
§ 1171 et seq.).
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, Pub. L. No. 112–239,
§ 3508 (2013).
The ready reserve fleet provides a fleet of 46 vessels in reduced operating capacity.
Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, Pub. L. No. 114–113.
U.S. Maritime Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, "Comparison
of U.S. and Foreign-Flag Operating Costs," September 2011.
The president's "Budget for Fiscal Year 2017."
U.S. Maritime Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, "A Report to
Congress — Impacts of Reductions in Government Impelled Cargo on the U.S.
Merchant Marine," April 21, 2015.
Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, Pub. L. No. 114–94.
Maritime Security Program Fleet (MSP) as of October 1, 2015, found at: www.
Additionally, Congress failed to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank
in June of 2015. This had the tangential impact of removing
another cargo source from U.S.-flagged carriers. Reauthori-
zation legislation was signed into law by President Obama
on December 4, 2015.
However, at the time of this writ-
ing, the Ex-Im Bank lacked a full complement of Senate-
approved members of the board of directors in order to have
the quorum needed to approve loans over $10 million.
The 60-ship MSP fleet was created in 2003 during a period
of active warfare, and it remains to be seen if 60 ships can
be maintained in peacetime. At the moment, there are two
open slots of the 60 slots available under the MSP.
that there are any open slots speaks to the perilous state of
When M/V Freedom arrived at the port of Bilbao, Spain,
on October 9, 2015, to discharge Army cargo to be used in
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Exercise Trident
Juncture 2015, she was one of a small number of American
vessels in the international trades. M/V Freedom and her
72 other U.S.-flag counterparts are on the brink of a new
reality. The cargo preference laws and programs that have
sustained them in the past may not be enough incentive to
continue in the trade in the future.
The most important maritime policy planks have almost
always been laid down in the immediate aftermath of the
nation's wars: the 1904 Cargo Preference Act following the
Spanish-American War, the 1954 Cargo Preference Act and
the Wilson-Weeks agreement following World War II and