Symbols of US maritime decline

Posted: 01/03/2012 in all marine news

Clay Maitland – 

Our government’s present inability to land a cargo of gasoline via a U.S.-flagged vessel in icebound Nome, Alaska, symbolizes the shortage of foresight of our maritime policy makers.

We are unable to provide a U.S.-flagged ice-strengthened tanker to lift cargo between points in the United States (within Alaska), and will apparently have to secure the services of a Russian vessel instead.

At the same time, the termination of the Global Maritime and Transportation School (GMATS), which has been at the forefront of professional training since its founding in 1994, seems to be another illustration of an “asleep at the switch” attitude toward our urgent maritime requirements.

The two episodes have more in common than might at first appear. Up to now, GMATS, located at King’s Point, has provided more than 140 maritime education and training programs, including four categories: nautical science and military training, marine engineering, transportation logistics and management.

In 2010, more than 4,000 students were enrolled in GMATS programs. All of this now comes to an end, although the various state-sponsored maritime academies will no doubt attempt to take up the slack.

Many of the courses offered have particular significance in educating mariners in the finer points of safety management, a matter of increasing concern in our complex transportation environment.

Bridge resource management, decision making, situational awareness, master/pilot relationships and voyage planning were among the courses on offer.

Many of these courses were tailored to the equipment employed aboard ships owned by the companies sponsoring the students themselves.

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