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The issues confronting the U.S.-Flag maritime industry and the U.S. Merchant Marine are unique. Globalization, national security, free trade, economics, tax policy, national transportation policy, labor issues – all have impact on the maritime industry.

The American Maritime Congress has long focused on the issues that directly affect our members – maritime policy, national defense policy, and tax policy. There are several policy issues of importance to AMC: the Maritime Security Program, the Jones Act, Cargo Preference/Food Aid programs. The Jones Act, MSP, and cargo preference are the primary programs that keep the American merchant marine afloat and have direct impact on the economic viability and national security of our nation.

Why is a U.S.-Flag commercial fleet important?

The American merchant fleet is vital to U.S. maritime global security. Ninety percent of global commerce transits the world’s oceans. Yet, less than two percent of our nation’s overseas imports and exports are carried on U.S.-flag vessels. Without a viable U.S.-flag commercial fleet engaged in international trade, the United States as a global maritime power is diminished.

Rear Admiral Alfred T. Mahan emphasized in his teachings the importance of merchant shipping for a sea power. Mahan wrote that “the necessity of a navy, in the restricted sense of the words, springs … from the existence of peaceful shipping, and disappears with it.”

Mahan’s reasoning was that maritime trade (and thus a flag-state merchant marine) arises in a natural manner. As nations are inclined to create trade in order to obtain wealth. A nation wishing to protect its ships and trade lanes needs a navy. In a world filled with competing nations and empire, the nations with the largest and most powerful battle fleets will be the wealthiest and most powerful.

The U.S. Merchant Marine: Back to the Future? Christopher J. McMahon, Maritime Administration Emory S. Land Chair of Merchant Marine Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College. Naval War College Review, Winter 2016. Vol. 69, No. 1. (PDF)


A new report brings into sharp focus how the reduced size of the U.S.-flag merchant fleet has led to U.S. vulnerability due to the steady rise of Chinese ships engaged international ocean trade. The Chinese maritime intimidation in the global political arena goes beyond China’s efforts to strengthen its naval battle fleets and demonstrates its deliberate growth to dominate international ocean trade. The paper titled, “Sea Strangulation: How the United States Has Become Vulnerable to Chinese Maritime Coercion,” starkly illustrates the effects of limited Federal government support for the U.S.-flag fleet and the potential threat to global maritime security. (PDF)

AMC is committed to broadening awareness and ensuring understanding of the critical importance of supporting the U.S.-flag maritime industry by policy makers in Congress, federal agencies, and the public at large. The vital nature of federal programs impacting U.S. maritime have the potential to revolutionize our industry, and AMC is playing a key role to ensure their future success for our U.S.-flag maritime industry.

Helpful Links

  • The U.S. Merchant Marine White Paper (PDF)
  • “Sea Strangulation” Report (PDF)