Close, but no cigar
The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) has just unveiled designs for proposed Marine Highway vessels, and this is what Marine Log had to say about MARAD’S press release:
“The U.S. Maritime Administration says that it has released a report detailing new designs for shipping vessels specifically engineered for America’s Marine Highways. Unfortunately a link provided to the report by MARAD actually leads only to the ship designs themselves, which appear to have been created by Herbert Engineering.
“There is no information on what might induce any shipowner to order any of them, how they might be paid for or, for that matter, what they might cost. However a press release does say that MARAD has also signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Navy under which MARAD and the Navy could provide up to $ 800,000 to advance two or three of these new concept designs to the next stage of design development, with the ultimate goal of constructing multiple vessels in U.S. shipyards. The new vessel designs ‘meet a portion of the U.S. military’s sealift needs in times of war or during national emergencies,’ says MARAD.
“The press release says that ‘production of these efficient, economically-friendly vessels could bolster the domestic shipbuilding industry by creating new jobs and strengthening regional economies.’
“‘This is another step in helping America’s Marine Highways move our economy and relieve congestion on our roads,’ said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. ‘The U.S. maritime industry is vital to our economy and our security. These vessel designs will bolster both in a way that maximizes efficiency while minimizing environmental impact.’
“Eleven designs have been created for new shipping vessels that can transport cargoes that would otherwise be trucked over congested roadways. The innovative designs focus primarily on roll-on roll-off vessels intended to carry wheeled cargo such as automobiles, trucks and trailers or railroad cars that are driven on and off the ship on their own wheels.
“The designs include six roll-on roll-off (RO/RO) vessels (one of them a gas turbine 30 knot Fastship and another a trimaran), three combination RO/RO-container carriers (one of which is an ATB), a feeder containership, and a RO/RO-passenger ferry (for which, a note says, LNG propulsion is an option). The RO/RO and RO/RO-container vessels carry various types of vehicles, but are primarily intended for tractor-trailers and stackable containers. The feeder containership can support standard-sized containers stacked both below and above deck, and the RO/RO-passenger ferry can transport tractor trailers along with their drivers.
“‘These designs are a road-map to a brighter future for the men and women who serve our nation at sea,’ said U.S. Maritime Administrator David Matsuda. ‘By bringing cutting-edge technology to America’s maritime workforce. our country can be a global leader in shipbuilding.'” –
Take a closer look at this press release.
That business about “…new designs for shipping vessels specifically designed for America’s Marine Highways”, for example, is hogwash. Those designs are not for “America’s Marine Highways” – commonly referred to as Short Sea Shipping – those ships are for the weapons industry. Otherwise they’d never see the light of day.
One of our patented designs is comparable – but in size only – to the design furnished in MARAD’S press release. Here are more exact specifications:
Length, Over All 550.2 feet 490 feet
Beam 88.6 feet 90 feet
Design Draft 19.7 feet 20 feet
Cargo Capacity 423 TEU 696 TEU
But performance and profitability are the most important considerations. Bear in mind that, thus far, no conventionally-designed vessels engaged in Short Sea Shipping have ever made a profit, and those being promoted by MARAD would prove to be no exceptions. But those vessels intended for use on “America’s Marine Highways” – they’re for America’s armed forces. It says so right in the press release. Their purpose is to “‘… meet a portion of the U.S. military’s needs in times of war or during national emergencies,’ says MARAD..”
“There is no information on what might induce any shipowner to order any of them, how they might be paid for or, for that matter, what they might cost,” is the observation made by Marine Log’s editor. And what further proof is needed that these vessels have nothing to do with “America’s Marine Highways”? They were not ordered by private interests because Short Sea Shipping has been a loser from the get-go. The order, according to the press release, is a result of a ” … Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Navy under which MARAD and the Navy could provide up to $ 800,000 to advance two or three of these new concept designs to the next stage of development.”
It’s obvious that it’s all a smokescreen, and even U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood got into the act. “This is another step in helping America’s Marine Highways move our economy and relieve congestion on our roads,” he said. “The U.S. maritime industry is vital to our economy and our security. These vessel designs will bolster both in a way that maximizes efficiency while minimizing environmental impact.” Such baloney. We’ve been sending information about our revolutionary – and highly profitable – Short Sea Shipping designs to U.S. Transportation Secretaries for almost ten years, but not a one of them ever responded to our pleadings. Yes, pleadings.
Revitalizing our shipyards to create civilian jobs is not a priority because that would reduce “opportunities” in our armed forces – and the weapons industry is all that matters to those at the top.