Maritime Security: DOT Needs to Expeditiously Finalize the Required National Maritime Strategy for Sustaining U.S.-Flag Fleet

The U.S. government relies on U.S.- flag vessels that trade internationally to transport cargo and to provide a pool of U.S. mariners who could be called upon in times of crisis for the Department of Defense’s (DOD's) reserve fleet. Through financial support and cargo preferences, the United States has supported the viability of the U.S.-flag fleet. However, in recent years concern has grown about the sustainability of the U.S.-flag fleet, and in 2014, Congress statutorily mandated that the Department of Transportation (DOT) develop national strategies related to the sustainability of the U.S.- flag fleet including recommendations for the future. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to review U.S. government support for these U.S.-flag vessels that trade internationally. This report discusses: (1) the effect the U.S. government’s support for the U.S.-flag fleet has had on national defense needs and other government programs; (2) the challenges identified by stakeholders in sustaining the U.S.- flag fleet for defense needs; and (3) the status of the mandated national strategies related to the U.S.-flag fleet. GAO reviewed relevant laws and analyzed DOT and DOD documents and government cargo data for fiscal years 2012–2017. GAO also interviewed officials from DOT, DOD, and other federal agencies subject to cargo preference; Maritime Security Program (MSP) vessel operators; and other stakeholders. GAO recommends that DOT complete the national maritime strategy and establish time frames for its issuance. DOT concurred with the recommendation and provided technical comments, which were incorporated as appropriate.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 55p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01678141
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO-18-478
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 21 2018 9:29AM