Going Broke

While we were sleeping -during the phoney “shutdown” – a further contract award was being set up by the Department of Defense. The day after the researchers at Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center revealed the $ 1.7 billion missile contract awarded to Raytheon, we learned about another contract that had been written up.

Here’s what was finally revealed on November 13, 2013:

“Maersk Line Ltd. MSC contract is worth potential $ 143 million”

“Maersk Line Limited (MLL), Norfolk, VA, was recently awarded a $ 73,677,038 firm-fixed-price contract by the Military Sealift Command (MSC) for the time charter of one U.S.-flagged, twin-shaft vessel that will serve as a maritime support vessel.

“This contract includes four 12-month option periods, which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $ 143,149,058.

“Work will be performed at sea worldwide, and is expected to be completed November 2014.

“If all options are exercised, work will continue through October 2018. Working capital funds in the amount of $ 73,677,038 are obligated for fiscal 2014, and will not expire at the end of the year.”

Let’s take a closer look at this collaboration. And that’s what it is – a collaboration.

It makes absolutely no sense to fork over $ 143 million to a foreign-built, foreign-owned container ship for use over a four-year period. For $143 million, U.S. shipyards, using U.S. workers, could build two, and maybe three, container ships well-suited to “serve as support vessels”.

Furthermore, these vessels would have a useful life of much more than four years, and they would be made available by U.S. owners at a much more reasonable price than the amount committed to Maersk. In fact, our vessels more than likely would be available at no cost to our government.

The last time we looked at the Military Sealift Command set up, we saw that more than 40 vessels were under contract to be on a “standby” status, and to do nothing for the U.S. – that’s right, nothing – while they were carrying out their owners’ everyday, money-making operations. And while those 40+ vessels were working daily on their regular routes making money for their owners – for their owners, mind you, not for us taxpayers – we taxpayers were paying the owners of each and every one of those “on-call” vessels, more than $ 2 million every single year.

That comes to another $ 100 million per year down the drain – an amount that could produce two additional U.S.-owned container ships every year, by U.S. workers, in U.S. shipyards. Is it any wonder we’re going broke?