HUNTER: Keeping America afloat

The old saying “he who rules the seas rules the world” is still relevant today. National and global interests — for America, in particular — are inextricably linked to the seas. With oceans covering 70 percent of the Earth’s surface, they are just as important now as they were centuries ago when exploration and discovery were possible only by setting sail.

The magnitude of commerce dependent on shipping alone is staggering. Approximately 75 percent of global commerce moves by water and the volume of international trade by vessel will only climb. Even so, the U.S. flag fleet is carrying just 2 percent of cargo tonnage, down from 25 percent in 1955. Several factors have led to this decline, but the ramifications are not simply economic. The consequences also transcend into the realm of U.S. security as a result of commercial trade vessels serving as military sealift assets through the Maritime Security Program, which provides operational support to 60 U.S.-flag commercial vessels.

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