Federal maritime policy has evolved as an accumulation of statutes and administrative programs intended to respond to global and domestic issues and trends within the maritime industry. The Maritime Security Act of 1996 (MSA) amended the Merchant Marine Act of 1936 in an attempt to revitalize the U.S.-flag merchant marine. The cornerstone of the MSA is the Maritime Security Program, which replaced the legacy Operating Differential Subsidy by compensating U.S. carriers for the higher costs of operating ships under a U.S.-flag compared to those of foreign-flag competitors. This thesis analyzes the MSA using a policy analysis framework developed by Sabatier and Mazmanian. The analysis identifies and evaluates critical variables affecting the achievement of statutory objectives. The absence of clearly defined objectives gives rise to inherent difficulty when attempting to measure what specifically constitutes attainment of MSA statutory success. The principle causal linkage between government intervention and the attainment of the legislative objective is through the provision of monetary subsidies. The study concludes that the MSA is a short-term policy that represents the continuation of a "bandage" solution to the hemorrhaging of U.S.-flag vessels to more profitable foreign registries and is not achieving its objective of revitalizing the U.S. merchant marine.
Doyle, Richard Lewis, Ira
Naval Postgraduate School
M.S. in Management
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