America

Monday, March 13, 2006

Gasp! Foreign ownership of defense-related hulls

Reported here:
Three-fourths of the cargo ships in a special fleet carrying vital supplies to US military forces are owned by foreign companies, raising concerns about the lack of American-owned vessels to help the Pentagon in a global crisis, according to government records reviewed by the Globe.

The foreign ownership of cargo ships that deliver rocket launchers, attack helicopters, high-tech safety gear, and other equipment to US troops around the world has received relatively little notice. But the arrangement, under which each ship receives a $2.6 million annual subsidy, is coming under new scrutiny as a result of the furor over the now-canceled plan to have a Dubai-based company take over management of six US ports.

Representative Gene Taylor, a Mississippi Democrat whose district includes major shipbuilding facilities, said Pentagon officials offered assurances when the subsidy program began a decade ago that few of the cargo ships in the US Maritime Security Program would be foreign owned.
But with so many vessels in the program now under the control of four foreign companies, Taylor said he wants Congress to require all cargo ships that supply US military forces to be owned by US companies. Taylor said the military would be vulnerable to a cutoff of crucial supplies if a foreign-owned vessel suddenly pulled out of the program.
Hmm. Rep Taylor is from a shipbuilding area? Hmmm.

UPDATE: More on prepositioned ships here. Some are under long term charter by the US and, in fact, the owners may be foreign corporations, like Maersk, which is Danish in origin, but world-wide in operation. Last time I checked, the Danes were considered our allies. US-Maersk contract info here.

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