In 1919, Ralph D. Paine began a brief history of the old American merchant ship with these words:
“The history of American ships and sailors is an epic of blue waters. To future generations, this seems very remote and almost unreal. people with a gift for sailing have gained and maintained two centuries of glory and supremacy, and then abandoned their legacy. The period of achievement is no more unusual than its rapid decline. ”
Paine speaks primarily of the age of navigation, when American whalers and traders often ventured to the other side of the world in search of trophies.
But you may have been talking about the current state of US shipbuilding and maritime commerce, which has almost collapsed in the previous generation.
The Ever Give Freighter at sea.
The Ever Give, operated by Evergreen Marine, can carry 20,000 containers. No one builds in the United States… [+] WIKIPEDIA
A country that was a world leader in commercial shipbuilding on the 200th anniversary of the founding of the United States, less than 10 ships were built for maritime commerce in a typical year.
China builds more than 1,000 such ships every year.
The total number of registered ocean merchant fleets in the United States is less than 200, while the world total is 44,000.
Although the annual trade flow to and from the United States exceeds US $ 1 trillion, the majority of which is transported by sea, ships registered in the United States carry only 1% of that flow.
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This is much less than the year I was born. In 1951, American merchant ships carried one-third of world trade.
To make matters worse, the US Navy has apparently lost its ability to keep up with China in military shipbuilding.
China now has the largest warship fleet in the world, with around 350 ships, while the United States Navy is working hard to surpass 300 ships.
The Navy’s shipbuilding funding requirements next year will only require the construction of 4 warships (8 ships in total). If this effort continues, it will ensure China’s dominant position at sea by 2030.
US sailors will receive better training and better equipment. Compared with Chinese counterparts, all trends are heading in the wrong direction.
tells you a lot of the US National Maritime Department, the largest exporter of container cargo to the US, it is a Chinese government-owned shipping company.
Today’s U.S. merchant ships are so small that analysts question their ability to withstand military transportation needs in wars.
There are only 180 or more transoceanic ships in the US-registered commercial fleet, and fewer than 12,000 professional sailors. Most of them will be tied to domestic routes at the beginning of the war. The private sector is capable of supplementing the government’s age. . Picking up the ship in an emergency is problematic.
It is easy to find an excuse for Washington to allow waste in the United States at sea.
After all, how likely is it to have a protracted war with China, and it will take months or years of shipping activities to maintain forward-deployed troops?
However, it is difficult to eliminate all national security concerns surrounding the gradual disappearance of the United States from the world’s oceans.
We know that Beijing’s long-term goal is to dominate the global supply chain of important industrial products. This is why China surpasses the United States by 100 to 1 in large commercial ships, increasingly dominating traffic and ensuring control of ports along key trade routes. The route should elicit a political response from Washington.
So far, not yet.
At the same time, Beijing’s ability to master the balance of the future navy in its region (the industrial core of the new global economy) has become increasingly apparent.
China already possesses geographical and economic advantages in this regard, so it should be vigilant for its ability to surpass the United States on warships every year.
China’s most direct naval goal is to ensure control of nearby seas; the smaller US Navy needs to maintain a presence anywhere from the North Atlantic to the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf, and the Western Pacific. The
trade model and the naval model seem to be complementary, indicating that the United States will historically lose its maritime influence in the near future.
There is a solution to this problem, but it may require a different type of political culture than the current United States.
The decline of the United States shipbuilding industry is only one aspect of the broader deindustrialization of the United States. Since the end of the Cold War, Edison and Westinghouse have gradually abandoned the production of all industrial products, from smartphones to aluminum.
Not long ago, the United States was home to more than a dozen aircraft manufacturers; Today, it has only one large aircraft manufacturer left, and this company has recently faltered.
The isolated and polarized political system of the United States seems to have not even noticed these problems, much less improved them.
For example, the national shipbuilding industry has gone from being the largest manufacturer of offshore commercial ships to almost no ships built in just 10 years, thanks to the Reagan administration’s stupid move to abolish subsidies. to construction without seeking reciprocal actions of the nation of other countries.
This measure has never been reconsidered, even though the shipbuilding industry lost 40,000 workers during the Reagan era. Time will show whether the Biden administration has consciously modified the shipbuilding plan, which may bring bad luck to some surviving American shipyards today. Given that the United States has lost 14 newly built shipyards since 1970, and Washington has almost no prying eyes,
optimism is not necessary.
Today only one full service shipyard remains

By Peter

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