Wednesday, April 15, 2020



FULL STORY in gCaptain  by Salvatore R. Mercogliano, Ph.D.

It is sometimes said among U.S, Merchant Marine Officers that the Coast Guard provides safety services to the world's largest non existent merchant marine. Our deep draft shipping has so deteriorated that even the Navy owned Merchant Marine Manned ("CIVMARS" in NAV speak) sea lift ships are aging, and too scarce to carry anywhere near the cargo burden that a near peer conflict would require. While the Navy's Merchant manned sea lift fleet sends each ship to sea properly manned ; the command has great difficulty providing reliefs on time for the promised rotations. There is a constant recruitment / retention problem. MARAD , not the Coast Guard is responsible for insuring that we have an American Merchant Marine, We had a significant ocean transport fleet capable of fulfilling the congressional mandate of being of sufficient numbers and capacities to support military sea-lift in an emergency and carrying a significant portion of foreign trade. That fleet disappeared after the end of construction and operational differential subsidies from MARAD.  . 

 Despite the shortage of traditional sea going merchant marine berths in America's fleet the states and the Maritime Administration support five state maritime academies training officers for the traditional ocean transport merchant marine, plus the national Merchant Maine Academy at Kings Point NY.. The academies continue to require military or maritime five year service obligations for all cadets who receive Federal subsidies, which includes most of them. 

 Due to the shortage of traditional sea going in foreign commerce jobs the service obligation in recent years has been liberalized to include graduate education and subsequent service in naval architecture and admiralty law. Most cadets receive a naval reserve commission as well as a third mate's or third assistant engineer's license upon graduation. Active service in the military also fulfills the the service obligation. Most academies have of late been holding "alternative career seminars" where cadets are introduced to on the water careers in the various Jones act fleets. 

Those who do land such billets may only serve as officers in the US mainland to Puerto Rico and Alaska and Hawaii trades, and aboard a very few coastal tankers.and large ferries.  The other Jones Act trades  such as River towing, offshore oil production and support are highly specialized and have a separate licensing structure for officers, Many traditional Merchant Officers today still labor under the illusion that an ocean license transfers easily into any inland or coastal trade. This hasn't been true for about a decade or more. Realizing the special skills and technologies required to operate in the more specialized trades the Coast Guard abolished their "Lesser Included Waters" rule from the licensing structure. For an academy grad to enter the inland towing trade or offshore oil and mineral industry trade he or she must expect to undergo an apprentice ship followed by a new license exam. Graduate cadets do get "sea time credit" for whatever "blue water" time they may have and the academy diploma often shortens their time in arriving at a formal apprenticeship. With a shorter time into a Wheel house or engine room apprenticeship and shortened "sea service time" many who do choose this route with its much lower starting pay attain officer status in about two years sometimes less.

 Despite the availability of Jones Act fleet jobs the academies continue to train cadets for the skills normally required aboard ocean going freighters, bulk carriers, and tankers. Cadets are also trained in naval custom courtesies , and tradition and other areas of knowledge useful to a new Navy or Coast Guard Ensign. This form of education is precisely what is needed under current law to make the graduating cadets eligible for direct entry into the military as junior commissioned officers. There is no regular route to military officer commissioning for the officers in the specialized Jones Act trades, though there was a lot of such commissioning during WWII. 

 To support the mission of the academies and to add some hands on experience for the cadets each academy operates a training ship. The fleet of five such ships assigned to the state academies is aging and has no particular mission in providing sea lift assistance or any other predetermined mission to support the naval forces in time of war. All that is about to change as the Maritime Administration prepares to deliver to the state academies five purpose built training vessels. Dr. Marcogliane writing in g Captain describes the new vessels which have built in national defense /emergency  support capabilities. We urge our readers to read the full article in g Captain...  "g Captain" is one of the best sources of maritime news, we always have a link to g Captain in our NEWS AND INTELLIGENCE SERVICES SECTION...   .  .. 

1 comment:

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