The risks of outsourcing merchant shipping to foreign owners

Sal Mercogliano has a thoughtful look in CIMSEC on the grounding of MV Ever Given that blocked the Suez Canal for six days:

Today, international corporations, with ships flying the flags of open registries, dominate the world’s oceans but with little means of protection. This is readily apparent to the Indian crew, onboard the Taiwan-based Evergreen vessel, managed by a German firm, with an American classification society, owned by a Japanese company, with insurance in Great Britain, and trapped in Egyptian waters. That is the situation facing world trade and maritime infrastructure today that is largely absent from most military and naval discussions but essential to the world’s economy and the military’s logistics. Failure to invest in domestic infrastructure and trade will place nations at the mercy of forces beyond their control. While that may be sufficient for many nations, any country wishing to be considered a sea power should heed the words of Mahan, as recently recapped by Andrew Lambert in “What is a Navy For?” and consider, “What is a Merchant Marine For?”

The article also contains a fascinating account of the history of container ships. It’s just incredible how big they have grown and how quickly.




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