National Maritime Policy

September 29, 1965

Report Outline
U.S. Merchant Marine and World Trade
Government Aid for American Shipping
Merchant Marine's Continuing Problems

U.S. Merchant Marine and World Trade

Reconsideration of U.S. Merchant Marine Policy

Anew policy to aid the troubled American merchant marine is in the making. A year-long review by President Johnson's Cabinet-level Maritime Advisory Committee and special task forces is expected to lead, before the year is out, to a formal statement of the problems and the proposals for tackling them. The committee's final recommendations may become the first order of business when Congress reconvenes next January. Giving urgency to the new program is recognition that the existing system of subsidies, established by the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, has not kept this country's shipping in a strong competitive position.

Most observers think that an adequate program for the shipping industry will have to involve subsidies or other forms of government aid in amounts as large or larger than the current $400 million annual outlay. The new policy may rely heavily for success on extension of construction and operating subsidies to bulk-cargo shipping—the so-called tramp ships. Hardships experienced by the tramp fleet have hastened the decline of the American merchant marine.

Yet it is far from certain that an expanded subsidy system can give the nation a strong merchant fleet in an era of vigorous competition from foreign shipping and from air cargo carriers. Still to be answered also is the question whether lasting labor peace in the maritime industry can be brought about through conciliation procedures still in a formative stage. To invest additional millions of tax dollars in federal subsidies would make no sense if bitter and prolonged clashes between labor and management were to continue periodically to prevent U.S.-flag ships from loading or sailing.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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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
Water Transportation and Safety