US FLAG merchant fleet
Sea News Shipping Industry

Downward trend of US FLAG merchant fleet has stabilized but

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, as of September 31, 2021, there were 180 U.S. flag vessels in the oceangoing self-propelled fleet of 1,000 gross tons and above. This fleet includes 79 privately-owned vessels that are engaged in international trade and 101 vessels that are either owned or operated by the U.S. government or reserved for national defense purposes. The total deadweight tonnage (DWT) of the U.S. flag oceangoing fleet was about 11.2 million DWT, which represents about 0.4% of the world’s merchant fleet DWT.

US FLAG merchant fleet- Some more details

The US flag merchant fleet also includes smaller vessels that operate in domestic or coastal waters, such as barges, tugs, ferries, and cruise ships. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as of December 31, 2019, there were 39,253 U.S. flag vessels in the domestic fleet of 100 gross tons and above. The total DWT of the domestic fleet was about 16.4 million DWT.

US FLAG merchant fleet
image courtesy: B.T.S

Flag plays an important role in supporting the U.S. economy and national security. It provides employment for American mariners, contributes to the balance of trade, and facilitates the movement of goods and people within and across the country. It also serves as a vital asset for the U.S. military in times of war or emergency, as it can transport troops, equipment, and supplies to support overseas operations. The U.S. government has various programs and policies to support and maintain the U.S. flag merchant fleet, such as cargo preference laws, the Maritime Security Program, and the Jones Act.

Sure, here are some more interesting facts about the U.S. merchant fleet:

  1. The U.S. flag merchant fleet is primarily engaged in domestic trade, including transporting goods between U.S. ports and to U.S. territories.
  2. The U.S. flag tanker fleet has the largest share of the total fleet by DWT, accounting for approximately 39% of the total as of September 2021.
  3. The U.S. flag fleet has been declining in size since the 1950s, when it peaked at over 2,000 vessels.
  4. The Jones Act, a federal law that requires vessels operating in domestic waters to be U.S.-built, U.S.-owned, and U.S.-crewed, has played a significant role in shaping the merchant fleet.
  5. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) is responsible for promoting the development and maintenance of the U.S. merchant marine.
  6. The U.S. flag merchant fleet has declined significantly over the past several decades due to a combination of factors, including increased competition from foreign-flagged vessels, high operating costs, and a lack of government support.
  7. The U.S. military relies on the U.S. flag merchant fleet for the transportation of military equipment, supplies, and personnel.
  8. The U.S. flag merchant fleet has a high average age compared to other countries, with many vessels over 30 years old.
  9. In recent years, there has been a push to increase the size and competitiveness of the U.S. flag merchant fleet, particularly in light of concerns about national security and the need to ensure reliable transportation of critical goods.
MG Staff
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