Trade Security

The importance of ensuring U.S. trade security

We can trust companies like Maersk Line, Limited (MLL) to deliver our goods no matter what challenges they encounter. Unfortunately, their ability to protect our trade is at risk as foreign carriers increasingly gain more control of U.S. cargo.

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The U.S. shipping industry is the lifeline of our nation to the global economy, which also provides supply chain security for our military and humanitarian aid distribution. From our favorite apparel to the appliances we purchase online, most of the goods we use every day crisscross the world on cargo ships before reaching our homes. In fact, around 90 percent of U.S. imports and exports by volume travel by sea. Yet most of the vessels that move these goods are operated by foreign carriers that may not have our best interests in mind, putting our economic security and national defense in jeopardy. Only U.S. flag ships with U.S. citizen mariners can guarantee our citizens and our men and women in uniform will get what they need when they need it.

About Maersk Line, Limited

USA based Maersk Line, Limited (MLL) is the largest owner and operator of U.S. flag cargo vessels trading internationally. MLL’s USF fleet provides assured end-to-end transportation solutions for commercial shippers, and the U.S Departments of Defense and State, by leveraging Maersk’s global intermodal networks, ports and local expertise at home and across the globe. MLL was established in 1983 to support the conversion and operation of five Maritime Prepositioning Ships on behalf of the United States Navy. Since that time, the fleet has grown and MLL now owns 20 US flag registered container vessels operating around the world to support the United States with military, government, and humanitarian missions. Our participation in the Maritime Security Program (MSP) and Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA) ensures that MLL assets, both afloat and ashore, are always available to support the US government.

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It’s not a trivial matter. Most Americans don’t realize just how precarious our nation’s economic and national security is when so dependent on foreign-flagged ships subject to geopolitical whims. If conflict were to break out overseas, foreign carriers with no loyalty to the U.S.A. could decline to ship our goods. Or, if political tensions arose between the U.S. and a foreign rival with a major shipping presence, other countries could restrict our imports or keep U.S. manufacturers from reaching their global customers. Other issues such as supply chain disruptions and cyberattacks can easily upend delicate global trade networks. Any of these scenarios could put a stranglehold on our economy, leaving goods to pile up or create scarcity on our shores. This is why it is critical that American shipping companies are always available to move our nation’s commerce, military supplies and humanitarian aid.

Shipping companies like Virginia based Maersk Line, Limited (MLL), which transports the most commercial cargo of any U.S.-flagged carrier, represent a safeguard against these threats. MLL’s U.S. citizenship roots, all American crews, modern fleet of ships and global intermodal network ensure they will always deliver our nation’s cargo no matter what challenges may be encountered. Yet, unfortunately, this ability to protect America’s maritime trade is at risk as foreign carriers, often subsidized by foreign governments, gain larger and larger shares of our nation’s cargo. Today less than 2 percent of our gross domestic product moves on U.S. flag ships. To reverse this trend and guarantee assured sealift logistics for American commerce and our military, the U.S. government must prioritize the U.S. Merchant Marine with a National Maritime Strategy that supports America’s economic and national security – before it’s too late.

U.S.-flagged carriers like MLL draw on sophisticated intermodal networks and commercial best practices to ensure that our cargo is delivered reliably, efficiently and safely. Unmatched in the industry, MLL are experts at developing alternate shipping routes when trade is upset by unexpected problems like border closures, over-saturated supply chains, or blockages like the 2021 Suez Canal obstruction. MLL itself actually provided valuable feedback to help the U.S. government address the Suez blockage crisis, and its sister company even helped free the foreign flag Ever Given ship from the canal.

The U.S. citizen crews employed on MLL’s modern U.S. flag merchant ships are highly skilled and loyal to American interests. They have developed their skills through decades of on the job training and state of the art maritime training centers funded by employers like Maersk. We can’t afford to lose these capabilities and outsource our vital sealift supply chain to foreign carriers that have lower standards and no loyalty to America.

Just like we recognize that supporting American farmers with sensible government programs is a strategic priority to ensure we can always feed our own people, we must also designate our U.S. Merchant Marine as a national strategic priority. Sensible policies that incentivize greater employment of U.S.-flag vessels will ensure American shipping companies control of our maritime transportation infrastructure, resulting in a robust, safe and secure logistics system that is vital to our economic and national security in an increasingly globalized world. Maersk Line, Limited is committed to strengthening our nation’s strategic maritime needs by investing in more U.S. flag ships, U.S. citizen mariners and intermodal networks connecting American interests with the world.

Economic Security

Learn how The U.S. Deep Sea Shipping Industry Supports our Economic Security.