Modern Merchant Marine

The maritime industry has always been evolving and innovating. From the days of sail to the days of steam, and now in today’s modern environment, technology has made the business of shipping more efficient, faster and more reliable than ever before.

But even with increased efficiency and productivity has not been able to halt the continued decline of the American merchant marine and the U.S. maritime industry.

From its height at the end of World War II, the modern American merchant marine has shrunk to a tenth of its former size.

According to statistics as compiled by the US Maritime Administration, in 1955 there were 1,072 vessels sailing internationally flying the US Flag. Currently, this number stands at 93 vessels while the Jones Act component of the US ocean- going fleet is 98. Some of this drop represents the increased size of the vessels of today. (the 1,072 ships in 1955 combined for approximately 13 million deadweight tons while the current US Flag fleet of 191 ships represent 9 million deadweight tons). Overall, in 1955, the US Flag fleet represented almost 25% of the world’s overall tonnage while the US share today is approaching only a mere 2% of total world tonnage.

There are a variety of reasons for the decline in the U.S. Merchant Marine – disparities in taxes (both corporate and on the mariner), overregulation of the industry, competition with foreign mariners from the developing world, and a lack of a coherent national maritime policy have all contributed to the decline of the merchant marine.

All is not lost, however. The American maritime industry has been the world leader in innovation and modernization for much of the 20th century. AMC and the rest of the industry will be working hard to level the playing field with our foreign competitors, educating the public and Congress on the need for regulatory reform, a coherent maritime policy, and tax reform.

AMC is confident that working together in a close partnership with industry, labor and government, we can return the U.S. Merchant Marine to its former place as the worldwide leader in ocean shipping.

Statistics (from the U.S. Maritime Administration)

Vessel Types

Tankers: Asphalt & Bitumen Carriers, Chemical & Oil Carriers, Molten Sulfur Carriers, Product Carriers, Crude Oil Carriers. Roll-on/Roll-off: Pure Car Carriers, Ro-Ro/Containerships.

General Cargo: Barge Carriers, General Cargo Liners, Heavy Lift Cargo Vessels, Multi-Purpose ships.

Containership: Fully Cellular Containerships.

Dry Bulk: Bulk Carriers.

Vessel capacities are expressed in deadweight (DWT) which is the total weight (metric tons) of cargo, fuel, fresh water, stores and crew which a ship can carry when immersed to its load line.

To view a breakdown of the modern U.S.-Flag Fleet please see the following MARAD file:

The above MARAD list does not include the U.S.-Flag Cruise Ship Pride of America

Ship Name – Pride of America
Type – Cruise
Gross Tonnage – 80,000
Dead Weight 8,260
Year Built – 2005
Operator – Norwegian Cruise Lines
Jones Act – Yes

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