A few years ago we seemed to be on the right track, then somehow we got derailed. The National Defense Authorization Act of 1993 requires the President of the United States to develop “a comprehensive plan to enable and ensure that domestic shipyards can compete effectively in the international shipbuilding market”. On October 1, 1993, President Clinton considered that plan to be a major opportunity when he submitted a report to Congress entitled, “Strengthening America’s Shipyards: A Plan for Competing in the International Market”.
Drawing upon studies by the U.S. Maritime Administration and Lloyd’s “Register of Shipping”, the President’s report stated that;
1. 7,300 to 9,900 large, oceangoing ships would be built for the international commercial market between 1992 and 2001, with three-quarters of this work to be done after 1996.
2. Approximately half would be cargo ships.
3. The demand for containerships was projected to increase over 30% as the net effect of increased world trade during that period.
4. There were over 133 foreign yards capable of building ships over 400 feet in length, with Japan and Korea accounting for more than half of the world’s production of commercial ships.
The Administration’s program included the following steps:
1. Ensuring Fair International Competition.
2. Improving Competitiveness.
3. Eliminating Unnecessary Government Regulations.
4. Financing Ship Sales through Title Loan Guarantees.
5. Assisting International marketing.
According to shipping journals, however, there were 67 containerships under construction at that time, but not a single one of those were being built in a U.S. shipyard. In spite of the good intentions of the Administration and Congress back then, implementation of this worthwhile and sensible legislation has been unsuccessful.
That a “major opportunity” existed could hardly be argued, but it could more properly described as a dream rather than an opportunity.
U.S. shipbuilders spared nothing in their attempts to secure shipbuilding contracts after the legislation mentioned above was enacted, but their efforts fell short. It turned out to be simply a matter of cost. We were unable to compete in the international labor market and nothing short of a miracle was likely to change that. But that miracle is now possible.
The revolutionary containership designed and patented by Automated Storage & Retrieval Systems, Ltd. is the one way to end the world’s disastrous economic free fall, and because nothing constructive is issuing from the brain trusts throughout the world, some of the actions being taken by those in authority are raising the ire of the newly disadvantaged. In other words, all hell is breaking loose in affected societies overseas, and the unthinkable is now being considered by otherwise docile Americans — like maybe another Tea Party, for starters.
Some of the obvious advantages of these new, or retrofitted, containerships have been cited in earlier commentaries and bear repeating:
1. Instantaneous retrieval of any single container from any position within the ship.
2. Elimination of the need for larger, more expensive vessels.
3. Inauguration of new trade routes.
4. Reestablishment of feeder links, niche trades and shuttles.
5. Accessibility to shallow water ports and ports previously not serviced.
But the most important benefit would be the creation of millions of jobs in our once-dominant shipbuilding industry. It’s the only way a plummeting economy has ever recovered, and today’s plummeting economy is the first ever to affect the entire world. Bearing in mind that the patent rights and, therefore, the right to issue construction licenses, are in the hands of U.S. citizens, it is the intention of those who own and control these international patent rights to promote, first and foremost, the interests of desperate U.S. citizens who, we’ve now come to realize, had provided the underpinning for the economies of most of the rest of the globe’s citizens.
In his 1993 Executive Summary the President stated, “The administration’s plan provides important assistance to U.S. shipyards in taking advantage of the significant opportunities in this decade’s rapidly expanding international market. Yards also will have to be — and no doubt will be — aggressive in their own efforts. The Administration looks forward to working with Congress and with industry in establishing a basis for the industry to enter the international marketplace. By working in partnership — labor and management, shipyards and customers, Congress and the Administration — Americans can meet this challenge as they have met others in the past.”
But instead of “working in partnership …Congress and the Administration” have thrown in the towel. No opposition was offered in the intervening years to those promoting the shuttering and disposal of U.S. shipyards, and even now consideration is being given to those intent upon filling in some of this nation’s inactive graving docks. To construct just one such facility nowadays would cost at least $ 150 million, but most officials seem to be unconcerned in that regard — and that kind of ignorance is expensive. The affordable miracle mentioned above, however, isn’t. It’s ours for the taking.
Like the proverbial brass ring, it’s within reach … and a lot cheaper than a Tea Party.