Issue Briefs

U.S. Shipbuilding Is At Its Lowest Ebb Ever. How Did America Fall So Far? (From Forbes)

U.S. Shipbuilding Is At Its Lowest Ebb Ever. How Did America Fall So Far? (From Forbes)

Loren B. Thompson

July 23rd, 2021

There was a time within living memory when America was the world’s biggest builder of commercial oceangoing vessels, and its ships carried a third of global trade. Those days are long gone. The U.S. now typically produces less than ten such vessels annually, compared with over a thousand in China. And barely one-percent of U.S. trade is carried on U.S.-registered ships. The U.S.-flagged commercial fleet consists of less than 200 oceangoing vessels, in a global fleet of 44,000 vessels. As if all that were not bad enough, the U.S. Navy seems incapable of keeping up with the rate of warship production in China, which is one reason China now has a larger navy. If Washington can’t do a better job of reversing these trends, America’s days of global maritime dominance are over for good. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.

The views and opinions expressed in this issue brief are those of the author.

Loren B. Thompson is a Senior Adviser at GPI, Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute and Chief Executive Officer of Source Associates, a for-profit consultancy. Prior to holding his present positions, he was Deputy Director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University and taught graduate-level courses in strategy, technology and media affairs at Georgetown. He has also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Thompson holds doctoral and masters degrees in government from Georgetown University and a bachelor of science degree in political science from Northeastern University.