Window on the Web for Merchant Mariners, Old Salts, and the Nautically Inclined.
(And U.S. Mariners who feel the pressing need to become truck drivers or webmasters.)

S.S. James Lykes   -- Ashdod, Israel, 1991
Then all the old "break-bulk" ships were gone...

The S.S. Margaret Lykes -GONE!

LASH ships were literally all work and no play. But
these were "American built and American owned"  
basically the last great American steamships.

The S.S. Sam Houston - GONE!


Where do the ships go? Most aging "American built" ships have been scraped
usually in India to be replaced by foreign built, and mostly foreign owned, ships.

This is the Stonewall Jackson (sister ship of the Sam Houston), on her death bed in Alang, India in 2002

End of the Line for US-Owned Freight Service

January 24 (2002): International Shipholding Corp (ISC) listed its LASH ships as "assets held for disposal", the LASH ships - 28,580-grt ROBERT E. LEE, sister ships STONEWALL JACKSON and SAM HOUSTON, all built 1974. ISC, the parent company of Waterman Steamship, will sell two of the LASH vessels, with the third pending for disposal. STONEWALL JACKSON and SAM HOUSTON sail on the US-India schedule, while SAM HOUSTON is laid up. The New Orleans-based company attributed the huge loss to lower results from its US flagged LASH service caused by unplanned shipyard work early in the year and reduced cargo volume in the second half of 2001. Compounding a weak demand, the US-owned LASH vessels have to pay a different set of taxes from the foreign-owned companies. The vessels are likely to be sold for scrap or placed in the US Navy reserve fleet. Most US-flagged liner companies operating in the US are now foreign-owned. Sea-Land Service is owned by Maersk of Denmark, American President Lines is owned by Neptune Orient Lines of Singapore, Farrell Lines is owned by P&O NedLloyd of UK/Netherlands, and Lykes Lines is owned by Canadian Pacific of Canada. (emphasis and underlining added)



About 95% of our increasing sea-borne foreign trade is carried in foreign flag ships. About 90% of the remaining commercial "American flag" ships are foreign owned. This means that more like 98% of the freight revenues paid by Americans and American companies to deliver our goods go to the foreign competition.
    What has happened to the American merchant marine is sort of a microcosmic example of what is happening to the entire American economy under globalism. Post-industrial America is a nation provided for, and dependent upon, foreign suppliers and runaway flag corporations.
     One need only to look at our growing trade deficit, our growing balance of payments deficit, and our growing national debt, to make a determination as to whether this has been good for the United States and the American people.
     Of course, the powers that be our Washington policy makers consistently pronounce it good, and are continuously calling for more of it.
     Before the 1980s, and the advent of globalism, the United States consistently carried a positive balance of trade and positive balance of international payments. In effect, not only did the American economy operate on a profitable basis, but we had a surplus that permitted us to be not only the most prosperous nation in the world, but the most generous in terms of foreign aid.
     We had a large merchant marine (but never as large as it should have been), which operated at a net profit to the nation, in spite of the necessary subsidies required to make it internationally competitive. In spite of the high subsidies to pay the higher costs of American mariners, shipbuilders, shipping companies, and supporting industries, all of these subsidies were returned (along with industry profits) to the American economy. Despite the "apparent" costs, it was a winning situation from every standpoint.
     With the adoption of free trade and globalism this positive international position became reversed, and the situation has continued to worsen at an accelerating rate.
     When free trade and globalism took hold, the concept of the runaway flag was legitimized and empowered. Though the merchant marine had always been threatened by the runaway flag phenomena, today it is not only shipping and maritime related industries fleeing the flag, but the very meat and potatoes of the economy itself our entire industrial base.
     Almost all American shipping companies have either folded or sold out foreign. And now we are in the peculiar position of having almost all of our so-called "Maritime Security Fleet," which continues to be subsidized, under foreign ownership, with industry profits and the subsidies going to the foreign competition. The only thing being returned to the American economy are the declining wages of American seamen, and that relatively small potion of profits that may turn up on Wall Street for the benefit of well-heeled investors.
     The government owned and operated arm of our "merchant marine" has grown much larger than the commercial merchant marine and, of course, it operates 100% at the public expense! So now, what passes for the American merchant marine is almost a total financial drain on the economy. And the American foreign trade maritime industry as a whole, as well as the economy itself, returns a loss rather than a profit.
     Add to these the costs of "public policy" the new and exponentially increasing costs of Homeland Security (port and ship security), and the "cost rewards" of expanding "free trade" are multiplied, and the real costs of our "cheap imported consumer goods" have taken a mega-leap. But the additional premium fails to show up at the Wal-Mart check-out counter it comes in the form of increased public debt with installments due every April 15th.
     Homeland Security? National security? Without our own national industrial base, our own merchant marine, and our ability to be a substantially economically independent nation, we hardly have any national security at all. No matter how great our military power, and how many weapons of mass destruction we possess, all efforts at national security tend to become hopeless. 
     Meanwhile, of course, as we have transcended into a "service" or "information based" economy, the profits for international business have greatly increased, the stock market has soared (but has suffered a few minor corrections), and the American people have been increasingly burdened with  unpayable levels of debt, both public and private.
     Scores of industries, thousands of factories, and millions of "good jobs" have simply been exported. More jobs (including so-called "knowledge worker" jobs), are being "outsourced."
     But the word is, "We've never had it so good." And, perhaps this is seemingly true. But living on credit, whether as individuals or a nation, portends a bleak and stormy future.
    Obviously, something is seriously wrong, and the price that will ultimately have to be paid in the fullness of time is not very pretty to contemplate.

WRC, 9/28/2006


Merchant Marine Articles
by William R. Carr

Voyage Two of the Columbia Mariner
A Typhoon Named Hal
Man Overboard!
Vietnam Revisited
Wonderful, Exciting, Galveston
The Last Straw

An Unlikely Voyage From Singapore to Guam (book


Back in 1913 Senator Wesley L. Jones lamented: "Since 1885, foreign ships have carried over $50,000,000,000 of our foreign commerce. Estimating the freight at 15 per cent, we have paid them over $7,500,000,000 for getting our products to their markets and supplying our own. Of what benefit is a balance of trade in our favor if we pay out most of it for freight?" (Source and additional quotes: U.S. Merchant Marine Org, at

Today foreign ships carry about $500,000,000,000 of our foreign commerce each year! Estimating the freight at only 1 per cent, we pay the competition over $5,000,000,000 for getting our products to their markets and supplying our own — mostly getting their products to our markets. We no longer enjoy the benefit of a favorable balance of trade. Not only do we pay out billions in freight revenues to foreign shipping companies, we pay foreign labor to produce an alarming percentage of our consumer goods and what we eat! We pay foreigners to build our ships and even our container cranes, not to mention all those containers, rather than giving the work to American workers. We pay foreign companies to manage many of our port facilities. The resultant costs to our economy, including the mushrooming costs of port security, are staggering. These monumental costs are not yet being reflected at the Wal-Mart checkout counter as they should be. The real costs of our free trade policies, and all those cheap imports, are deceptively charged to the consumer in his capacity as taxpayer. The result is clear to see in our rising tax burdens and expanding national debt. But nobody seems to see this! And there is absolutely nothing in the political pipeline to remedy the situation. The only call is for more poison to cure the suffering.

2008 Update: The financial meltdown is only the first of the economic chickens coming home to roost. Wait until the PEOPLE find out that our national leaders have totally compromised our national security position by going out of their way to insure our dependence on "others elsewhere" for just about everything we need. It isn't just oil folks. It's literally everything including credit!


GOING, GOING, GOING,  . . . . !
(And all because American mariners still refuse to accept Chinese wages)


Our Nation's Proud Merchant Marine

Now largely in Foreign Hands
And Regulated by the IMO

By William R. Carr

Homeland Insecurity

The Last Straw - Retirement at last



Incredible, But True!

The End of Common Sense

SOLD! The U.S. Flag Merchant Marine!

Comments on PILOTS AGREE and Labor Issues

STCW -- Raising Standards, or Lowering the Boom?

Commentary on the decline of our Merchant Marine

A few Statistics Tell the Tale

World Merchant Fleets


End of National Sovereignty and
Freedom of the High Seas


Enlightening Maritime Statistics from the Colton  & Company Web — at

Maritime Statistics from the U.S. Maritime Administration: –

See what Free Trade and globalism are doing to our economy and American Labor — at

The S.S. Columbia Eagle was high-jacked in 1970
while enroute to Thailand with a cargo of ammunition
 for the Vietnam War. Mutineers forced the ship
to Cambodia. Finally a book has been Published
about the incident. See..
The Eagle Mutiny, a Book Review




International Maritime Bureau
(Pirate Watch)
Rick Boggs' Merchant Marine Pages
D.R. Webb's MM Page
Ken Olsen's Sea Lanes
The Mother of All Maritime Links
Maritime Home Page
Marine Log Magazine
Maritime Companies
Colton  & Company Web Site

Masters, Mates & Pilots Union
Int'l Transport Workers' Federation
WoodenBoat Publications
The U.S. Naval Observatory (USNO)
NOAA Information
U.S. Department of Commerce
U.S. Government Printing Office
United States Coast Guard Home Page
Nautical Research Guild
The Peabody Essex Museum

Moving Cargo on Land.

Jobs in Oil Patch. Tidewater's Recruiting
Jobs with the Military Sealift Command

oks on Maritime Subjects
Books on Navigation
Books on Seamanship

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Happy sailing!


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