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One Port Industry Observation: 'Take a deep breath'

If the immediate emotion of the issue can be shelved long enough to read Mad Tea Party's On Ports and Terminal Operators, a clearer picture will emerge. Not, mind you, a more satisfying picture, but one that displays more logic than an (understandably) emotional outburst directed at the potential new proprietors of Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation. After she explains the essential functions of port authorities, terminal operators and stevedoring companies, she offers a root cause of the problem...one that pre-dates the current security concerns.

But who would take over?

The sad fact is the U.S. Maritime Industry as a whole is in dire straits. There are no major U.S. flag carriers, with U.S. crews, in the TransPacific trade. No merchant ships are being built here. Most of the graduates from the six Merchant Marine Academies in the U.S. do not go to sea. Rather, they work in port operations for companies that are either completely foreign owned or are a joint U.S.-foreign company venture. (The foreign company--at least here on the West Coast--is often a foreign steamship line or maritime company.)

Huffing and puffing will not resolve these problems, which have their origins with the first oil crisis, back in the mid-1970's. And we will continue to have them until American companies decide that the rewards available in the maritime industry are worth the risk. Until then, we will have to depend on the "kindness of strangers" who are willing to take that risk.

She has, in short order, answered the first two questions I posed previously. She also seems far from favoring the DP World move, but does take an intelligent and logical look at the situation. Giver her post a read.

1 Comment

Thanks for the trackback, Steve. And you're correct--I don't favor DP World move, but I'm not sure much can be done about it.