Plight of the Maritime Industry

July 21, 1954

Report Outline
Critical Position of Shipbuilding Industry
Maritime Industry and Maritime Policy
Problems of Shipowners and Shipbuilders
Requirements of U. S. Maritime Industry

Critical Position of Shipbuilding Industry

The american shipbuilding- industry—vital to national security—is going through another of the recurrent crises that have plagued it from the beginning; meanwhile, American ocean shipping is meeting stiff competition from foreign operators. Calls for bigger construction and operating subsidies, and for other forms of government relief, consequently have been rising. Industry and congressional spokesmen alike have warned that, unless the shipbuilding and ship repairing branches of the maritime industry are given prompt aid, shipyards will shut down, some permanently. Yet strong pressure for economy in government expenditures has made Congress follow a cautious course on pending measures to assist the industry.

Experience has shown that the need for a healthy maritime industry is widely appreciated only in wartime. The United States developed a tremendous shipbuilding capacity in World War II years but, since then, it has let the shipbuilding industry fall into a slump, as it did after World War I. Changes in methods of warfare have not changed the basic need for a healthy merchant marine in war as well as in peacetime. On the contrary, it has been asserted in some quarters that, in the event of future hostilities, this country would be more dependent on merchant shipping than ever before. Because American involvement in limited or general military action may be a threatening possibility for many years, the depressed state of the maritime industry may well be viewed as a matter for grave concern.

Lack of Orders for New Ships; Drop in Employment

Without early and effective government help, American shipbuilders will soon be up against a crisis. The yards during 1953 delivered 45 vessels totaling 570,000 gross tons, which was the largest tonnage completed in any peacetime year. But notwithstanding that record, the future for the industry looks bleak. The reason is that American shipyards have not received a single order for an oceangoing merchant ship since November 1952; uncompleted work at the end of 1954, other than naval work in some yards, may consist of only two vessels totaling 19,400 gross tons.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Aquaculture and Maritime Policy
Jun. 10, 2022  Governing the Seas
May 31, 2019  Global Fishing Controversies
Oct. 2007  Oceans in Crisis
Jul. 27, 2007  Fish Farming
Nov. 04, 2005  Saving the Oceans
Aug. 02, 2002  Threatened Fisheries
Sep. 27, 1985  Whaling: End of an Era
Jul. 16, 1982  Troubled Maritime Industry
Jun. 07, 1974  Oceanic Law
Sep. 29, 1965  National Maritime Policy
Sep. 04, 1963  Fishing Rights and Territorial Waters
Oct. 05, 1955  Territorial Waters and the High Seas
Jul. 21, 1954  Plight of the Maritime Industry
Jul. 10, 1935  Merchant Marine Policy of the United States
Jan. 15, 1929  Sea Power and Sea Law
Jul. 24, 1928  Government Aid to the Merchant Marine
Oct. 17, 1925  The Merchant Marine Problem
Apr. 26, 1924  The New Merchant Marine Situation
Manufacturing and Industrial Production
Water Transportation and Safety