US Abandoned Shipping, Relies on Foreign-Flagged Ships


If you appreciated the slow-motion video of the Dali crashing into the Francis Scott Key Bridge by Sal Mercogliano, you might want to read this article.  Sal Mercogliano is the Chair of the Department of History, Criminal Justice, and Political Science. He is also a Faculty Athletic Representative at Campbell University. Prof. Mercogliano is a Maritime Historian, Mariner, and Firefighter. He runs the site What’s Going on with Shipping. The following comments by a guest writer elaborate on Mercogliano’s concerns about the US abandoning the shipping industry.

The Story

I’ve been watching Sal Mercogliano‘s YouTube Channel “What’s Going On With Shipping“ since his first upload with the grounding of the Ever Given when it was stuck in the Suez Canal.

His channel meets one of my requirements–it has to run on Diesel or Bunker Oil #4.

If you watch enough of his videos, you will see that he is highly critical of how the US has abandoned the US ship industry, making us highly dependent on foreign-flagged vessels. [Foreign-flagged gets them around US safety requirements]

Not only that, but we basically only build US ships for the military because of Congress. The rest of “our“ ships are built in the Far East. Add the cranes to offload the ships are built and programmed mainly in China.

A few years ago, Sal had a link to Madeleine Wolczko’s YouTube channel when she was “Restricted to Ship“ in Shanghai, China, at the height of COVID for over a month while her ship was undergoing a major overhaul with Chinese labor on a US Flagged Merchant Ship because of the lower price vs. doing it here in the USA.

With the COVID situation, she and the rest of her crew were stuck with no one working on her ship for weeks.

What was supposed to be a short stay turned into a grueling situation, eating lousy food, and so on.

According to Sal, the US pays companies $1 million extra per year for 50’ish vessels to carry the US flag so that in the event of a national emergency (War), we can move around our troops, ammo, and equipment without depending on foreign-flagged ships.

These ships may have been built overseas, but those ships have to be they/them (manned) by US Merchant Mariners.

Yesterday, when the news first broke on the cargo ship Dali ramming the bridge, one of the talking heads on TV mentioned these ships are so computer-controlled that it wouldn’t be much of an effort for China to embed a line of code to shut down the engines.

Hard to believe, but the engine room on a modern ship isn’t your father’s engine room.


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