High-speed ship technology: maritime vessels for the 21st century.
The High-Speed ship technology, or ships with approximately 40 knots or more, is still in its development stage and the shipping industry will only fully accept if it is shown that it economically feasible and technically reliable. The Dept of Defense and Congress are striving realize the development of the High-Speed ship which is believed to be the vessel for the 21st century. The Maritime Security Act and the Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement are legislation which seek to facilitate its development.

Ships (Innovations)
Shipping industry (Laws, regulations and rules)
Farris, M. Theodore, II
Welch, Don
Pub Date:
Name: Transportation Journal Publisher: American Society of Transportation and Logistics, Inc. Audience: Academic; Trade Format: Newsletter Subject: Business; Transportation industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 1998 American Society of Transportation and Logistics, Inc. ISSN: 0041-1612
Date: Fall, 1998 Source Volume: 38 Source Issue: 1
Product Code: 3731000 Shipbuilding & Repair; 4400000 Water Transportation NAICS Code: 336611 Ship Building and Repairing; 483 Water Transportation SIC Code: 3731 Ship building and repairing; 4400 WATER TRANSPORTATION
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The Gulf War was a war of high-tech weapons having pinpoint accuracy and a well trained all-volunteer military that carried out their mission with precision. Victory in the Gulf War validated the Reagan administration's arms buildup during the 1980s. It also brought about the resurgence of the United States as a respected and credible military power after Vietnam and the failed Iranian hostage rescue attempt, Desert One. The stealth fighter, smart bombs, and cruise missiles mesmerized us all, as we sat in front of our television sets every evening during the war. The American people, as well as people from around the world, witnessed the power and resolve of the United States and its allies in protecting their vital interests and national security.

By all accounts the Gulf War was a tremendous logistical success. At one point the build-up of forces was described as the equivalent of performing the Berlin Airlift every six weeks. The amount of personnel and equipment moved to the Gulf region would be the same as moving the entire population, cars, trucks, houses, food, and clothing of Oklahoma City. But with all the success, a glaring weakness in the logistical pipeline was revealed: the effectiveness of sealift and the maritime industry's role in supporting the Gulf War. This could be our Achilles heel in future emergencies or contingencies requiting the insertion of military forces.

One of the lessons learned as a result of Desert Storm and Desert Shield was the need for faster sealift. Airlift support worked quite well and during the first week the Air Force had deployed ten squadrons of F-15 and F-16 aircraft with support personnel and their equipment, five more than was expected.(1) Sealift, however, did not go as smoothly. The Navy's Fast Ship class, ships capable of thirty knots or better, encountered mechanical problems. The most serious breakdown was one ship lost its boiler and had to be towed to Spain for repairs.(2) Other problems included delays with the activation of the Ready Reserve Fleet, which is kept in different stages of readiness, and problems with the sourcing of commercial ships to be chartered by the Military Sealift Command. Mechanical problems delayed shipments by as much as three weeks or more in the initial stages of the buildup of forces in the Gulf. In the end, 213 conventional ships using 91 foreign flag vessels were used during the Gulf War.(3)

In recent years we have witnessed many dramatic changes in the world, none more profound than the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. As a result, the president, through the Department of Defense with the Congress, has been in the process of reevaluating force projection strategy and threat assessment. The end of the Cold War reduced the threat of global conflict though the possibility of regional conflict remains. Two areas of concern are the continuing situation in the Gulf and the Korean peninsula. The strategy developed by the Department of Defense is to have the capability to engage two contingency operations simultaneously. This requires the ability to transport two heavy forces using airlift and sealift, with sealift transporting the bulk of the forces. Speed is vital when projecting military force in the interest of national security. Current sealift resources could easily deliver the punch, but do not have the speed to get to a crisis area early even with proper pre-staging. Airlift resources have the speed but not the capability to move the heavy forces needed to respond to a crisis involving armed intervention. It has become apparent that the American maritime industry's sealift capability has deteriorated as a result of decades of neglect. Military planners, especially Iogisticians, must find new and innovative solutions that will strengthen our sealift capabilities to protect our nation's vital interests.

The answer military planners and logisticians are looking for may be found in recent technological developments in the shipping industry. Several companies have been able to marry jet-ski technology to new hull designs that are shorter than conventional merchant ships. They also have the potential of cutting steaming times in half, to as much as four days across the Atlantic, improving reliability, intermodal, and commercial viability. Research and development costs associated with the development of this technology have been privately funded. Limited capital investment has resulted in the promise of a new High-Speed ship still on the drawing board. However, two companies have been able to build prototype models, one by FastShip Atlantic and another by a Japanese consortium, that have validated the concept of high-speed vessels and commercial application of these vessels.

"High-Speed Sealift" (HSS) refers to oceangoing cargo vessels with speed capabilities of approximately 40 knots or greater. This terminology was selected to specifically distinguish these ships from what have traditionally been referred to as "Fast Ships." "Fast Ships," by doctrinal definition, are ships that can exceed 30 knots, such as the Fast Sealift Ship (FSS) class (formally called Sea-Land SL-7's). The factors distinguishing FSS vessels from HSS ships are the use of high technology HSS hulls and engines, while the former use conventional hulls and power plants.(4)

Tight budgets have forced the Defense Department to change its procurement strategy in the acquisition of new technology. In the past, the Defense Department would fund the research and development of new technology, then transfer that technology to the civilian sector. The Department of Defense has adopted a new philosophy of buying off-the-shelf technology with modifications that meet military requirements and standards. High-Speed ship technology and the building of vessels capable of 40 knots or better meet the Department of Defense requirements to deliver heavy combat forces to a crisis area on time. High-Speed ship technology satisfies the need for speed, but the likelihood of having a military fleet of High-Speed ships would not be feasible due to the current budget limitations.

High-Speed ship technology is still very early in the development stages and has not been fully embraced by the shipping industry. Shippers have been encouraged by the concept of high-speed technology to speed up crossing times, but shippers are unlikely to commit themselves until there has been further study of the economics and proof of higher reliability. Solutions must be found to stimulate the maritime industry to make the necessary capital investments in the research and development of high-speed technology. The Department of Defense, through the U.S. Transportation Command, and the Congress have adopted a strategy of bringing together government and private sector resources to develop this new technology for a High-Speed vessel. This vessel not only meets the future needs of the military but also is the vessel that can help lead the American maritime industry into the 21st century.


The Maritime Security Act

The Maritime Security Act(5) establishes a maritime security program to ensure that the United States has a fleet of U.S. flag commercial cargo vessels. These vessels are needed to carry critical supplies during times of national emergencies or war.

The legislation replaces the existing Operating Differential Subsidy Program, which, for most liner vessels, expired on December 31, 1997. The new Maritime Security Program authorizes a ten-year program worth $1 billion with vessel payments capped at $2.1 million per vessel annually. The legislation authorized 47 American owned, flagged, and crewed vessels to participate in the Maritime Security Fleet.

The legislation provides that U.S. flag vessels less than fifteen years of age, owned and operated by U.S. citizens and crewed by U.S. citizens, are eligible to apply for operating agreements under the new program. Vessels ten years of age or less operating under a foreign flag could also apply for an agreement, but if accepted into the program, must be operated under the U.S. flag with U.S. crews.

Companies operating under the Maritime Security Program (Table 1) may operate vessels only in foreign commerce and not coastwise trade. Ships operating as part of the program are not restricted to specific trade routes but may follow cargo without the need to obtain government approval. Participants in the program must enter into an Emergency Preparedness Agreement with the Department of Defense (DOD). This agreement is to provide DOD access to its vessel and non-vessel resources, terminal facilities and intermodal systems, equipment, and management services during times of national emergency or contingency. Operators may replace an older vessel, under the U.S. flag, with a newer vessel at any time without government approval. Carriers may own and operate foreign-flag feeder vessels as long as they do not call at U.S. ports. Carriers may also operate a U.S.-flag vessel over the age of 25 that was built with the aid of the Construction Differential Subsidy in coastwise trade.(6)

The Maritime Administration, Department of Defense, and the U.S. Transportation Command have been working together in the implementation process. The first step in the process was determining the appropriate mix of ships to meet force projection requirements. Applicants and their vessels were reviewed as to their importance in sustaining a presence in international commerce as well as their contributions to national security. Particular attention was paid to the sealift needs that could be filled efficiently by the commercial fleet. The U.S. Transportation Command was in full agreement with the selection of vessels for the program. Selection was based on several factors, including intermodal system capacity; extent of commercial transportation resources; variety of trading patterns; commercial viability; operator experience; and vessel size, type, and military utility.(7)

A diverse mix of ships and services represented by the Maritime Security Fleet gives the Department of Defense the immediate capability not only to satisfy sustainment requirements but also to fill gaps in surge capability. The program further contributes to the Department of Defense Power Projection Strategy, providing a reliable and dependable source of both sealift and U.S. citizen crews as a resource for the military to draw upon during contingencies.

Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA)

This is a voluntary program that is part of the revitalization program. Built on lessons learned from Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the new agreement houses the mechanism in which carriers will provide origin-to-destination transportation services during military contingencies. Secretary of Defense William Cohen formally approved the VISA program on January 30, 1997.

Within the framework of VISA, a joint planning advisory group was established to identify potential problem areas for sealift and develop appropriate solutions. U.S. Transportation Command, the Maritime Administration, maritime labor, and commercial shipping companies have worked to ensure a clear understanding of the sealift requirements and capabilities among the participants.

Benefits for the Department of Defense

Inclusion of the carriers into the Department of Defense planning process established a precedent and served as the crowning jewel in the VISA strategy. By using a time-phased plan to provide capacity to meet varying levels of crisis, carriers can meet ongoing commercial arrangements during contingencies while concurrently meeting defense transportation needs. The companies' sophisticated systems for in-transit visibility also give the Department of Defense a more effective and efficient method of tracking and directing the movements of munitions and material from factory to front-line areas.

A U.S. flag fleet enables the Department of Defense to receive access to a total global, intermodal transportation network at no additional cost. This includes not only vessels, but logistics management services, infrastructure, terminals, equipment, communications, and cargo tracking networks, as well as 20,000 well trained, professional U.S. citizen seafarers and 22,000 shoreside employees located throughout the world.

VISA (Table 2) is designed to "promote and facilitate the Department of Defense's (DOD's) use of existing commercial integrated intermodal transportation systems and to maximize DOD's use of commercial transportation resources, while minimizing disruption to commercial operations. It provides a seamless, time-phased transition from peace to wartime operations through coordinated, pre-negotiated contracts for the type and quantity of sealift, when and where necessary, to deploy and sustain U.S. forces."(8) This is accomplished by pre-logged agreements and compensation factors, and jointly planned transportation solutions prior to execution. VISA also helps avoid costly acquisition and maintenance of containerships in the Ready Reserve Fleet that may impact crewing requirements.

Center for the Commercial Deployment of Transportation Technologies (CCDoTT)

This is a congressionally sponsored program that is made up of a consortium of government, industry, and academic organizations. Its charter is to identify and demonstrate advanced technologies.

The mission of CCDoTT is to improve national defense by streamlining throughput and logistic capabilities and to facilitate national and international trade. It also must forge a strong government, commercial industry, and academic partnership. In addition, every effort should be made to eliminate technological, institutional, and physical impediments to rapid intermodal movement of goods and to enhance public acceptance of advanced transportation technologies.

The goals of CCDoTT are to support developments in commercial transportation technologies; build on transportation research and development, training, education, and technologies from an extensive foundation of sources; improve military readiness and effectiveness; and improve the nation's productivity, competitiveness, and balance of trade.

The objectives of CCDoTT are to reduce time and cost of military deployments; reduce cost and delivery times of commercial intermodal goods transport, especially high value, time-sensitive goods; foster and assist deployment of advanced transportation technologies; provide a stable intermodal transportation infrastructure; and support the manufacturing sector.

The CCDoTT's charge is prototyping of agile port facilities operating in combination with high-speed sealift and related rapid deployment technologies; and improving the capabilities for cargo tracking and personnel movement plus total asset visibility.

The teamwork approach is used by CCDoTT to work with High-Speed ship and Agile Port designers. They work with the builders, suppliers, owners, operators, and users to facilitate development, acceptance, and operation of dual-use High-Speed ship and Agile Port systems. This dual-use system will be capable of demonstrating effective operation of High-Speed ships in concert with Agile Port systems with attendant terminal, intermodal, infrastructure, and cargo management systems within as early as five years to support commercial and military cargo movement. A five-year plan (Table 3) has been developed by the CCDoTT to improve Department of Defense and commercial goods transport by integrating:(9)

* High-Speed Sealift (HSS) vessels.

* Prototype and demonstrate High-Speed ships for commercial and military applications.

* Agile Ports (AP) and Transportation Automated Measurement System (TRAMS) Technologies - Prototype agile port operations in concert with HSS and TRAMS. Deploy TRAMS at DOD force projection platforms.

* Other rapid deployment technologies - Implement technologies for delivery of cargo from point of debarkation to the front lines.


FastShip Atlantic

Little independent study or research has been conducted to determine the commercial viability of High-Speed vessels. Market segmentation and capacity are other areas that also need further study. Firms engaged in High-Speed ship technology have completed most of the research.

Naval architect David L. Giles of FastShip Atlantic believes what shippers need in today's instant satisfaction markets is greater speed. He believes his new breed of freighters that marries jet-ski technology to a naval hull design 100 feet shorter than a conventional super-freighter will satisfy that need. FastShip Atlantic believes its High-Speed ship design could cut transatlantic transit times in half, to less than four days. It is planning a crossing time of 98 hours between Philadelphia and the Belgian Port of Zeebrugge (this compared to an eight-day crossing by conventional ship). Shipping costs would be twice as much as ordinary rates for sea freight but the time saved would justify the higher rates covering the high cost of fuel. By shrinking in-transit times manufacturers could reduce inventory costs, saving money even after paying premium rates. Volvo Transport Corporation believes $300 million could be cut from its inventory by switching to High-Speed ships.

Traditional shipping giants like Sea Land have not invested in High-Speed ship technology. Sea Land made the decision that faster ships were not economically feasible to operate after building eight "Fast Ships" called SL-7's in 1971 and 1972. Sea Land eventually sold them to the Navy. Roger Wigen, 3M's transportation policy manager, says, "There isn't a lot of incentive for creativity," when rates are determined by the global shipping cartel that is under antitrust immunity.

The FastShip design has a deep, V-shaped bow and grows flatter, even slightly concave, toward the stem. This prevents the stern from squatting down at higher speeds, and virtually eliminates the heaving in heavy weather that can crack standard hulls. The propulsion system comprises six General Electric Co. turbines, modified 747 aircraft engines with a cruising speed of 35 to 37 knots or about 43 miles per hour. Propellers have been replaced with five waterjets, which suck in water from inlets beneath the hull and use spinning blades to pump it out the stem at high speed. Side jets are used to help steer, while the large middle jet, driven by two turbines, is used only for power.

Shippers are demanding a higher degree of punctuality and reliability. In North America customers have been exposed to top-quality services provided by trucking and express delivery companies. Surveys show that door-to-door transit times between North America and Europe take fourteen to thirty-five days by conventional ship (Table 4), partly because of the practice of unloading at several ports. Deliveries invariably take four to five weeks.

Door-to-door deliveries across the Atlantic by FastShip Atlantic would take between five to seven days. A High-Speed ship would shuttle between two ports, carrying only 1,416 20-foot cargo containers, versus as many as 6,000 with larger container ships. To realize the full benefits of the High-Speed ship concept, ports would require special docks. In Europe, Volvo is looking with great interest at what FastShip Atlantic is doing in its efforts to build this new generation vessel. They want to halve door-to-door times between Sweden and the U.S. west coast to just twenty days. British exporters have been encouraged by the application of new technologies to speed up crossing times. It is unlikely shippers will commit themselves to the new service until there have been further studies of the economics and an improved record of consistent reliability.

Ships on the drawing board will have a capacity of 1,448 20-foot container units and are being designed for quick port turnaround times. The goal is to ensure that every container can leave the terminal within six hours of the vessel arriving at dockside.

FastShip Atlantic is not alone in High-Speed technology. There is a Japanese consortium that has tested a small waterjet prototype of a freighter designed to carry 150 20-foot containers at more than 45 knots. Named the Techno Superliner, this miniship is aimed at short hauls around Japan and the Asian mainland.


Market Capacity

Maersk Line recently launched a ship capable of carrying 6,000 20-foot containers, arguably the largest container ship yet to sail. The Regina Maersk is part of a tide of ships joining the world fleet in recent years. The surge of new ships has signaled a real time test of a larger, more important debate. Will there be enough business for all the ships, new and old, that will be sailing over the next few years? Shipping executives argue there will be. To support their arguments, they point to the emerging trade centers and increased demand for overseas transportation. They maintain demand will rise proportionally as capacity is added.

"Over-capacity has always been a periodic issue and the trade has always been able to absorb the incoming tonnage," says Tommy Thomsen, president of Maersk Inc. There appears to be less trade than had been anticipated, causing a flurry of rate cutting in the Atlantic and Pacific trade lanes. The problem seems to be getting worse with the arrival of new ships. This issue of overcapacity appears to be a short-term problem usually lasting two to three years and creating a downward pressure on rates. During contract negotiations, shippers often take advantage of the perception of over-supply to force better terms from carriers looking to secure volume under long-term contract. Over-capacity gives the perception of less demand, which may result in lower freight rates. Many carriers support the argument that there will be enough business available to profitably support an increase in the number of container ships.

There has been a basic change in the way businesses view their supply and sourcing options. Globalization is no longer a buzzword. With some businesses, it is standard practice to shift production and sourcing to those areas that offer the best-cost advantage at a given time. As this trend continues, surface shipping volumes are likely to increase. Many Japanese businesses have addressed increasing costs at home by moving production to Southeast Asia. As a result intra-Asia container traffic to and from Japan has increased about 10 percent a year over the last three years, according to estimates from Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd. in London. The continued shifting of sourcing and production throughout the world to take advantage of cost factors is likely to increase among businesses looking to find competitive advantages, and shipping volume will likely increase as a result.

The emergence of trade centers in Southeast Asian countries, India, and China will help to increase overseas trade volume. Industry analysts and trade indicators point to these areas as production powerhouses, which bodes well for ship lines. Their antiquated infrastructure is more likely to utilize ships than alternative modes of transportation that require a more sophisticated infrastructure. China and India have numerous ports which could be adapted for High-Speed operations. Southeast Asia, with the exception of Singapore, is also beginning to feel constrained as traffic demand begins to stretch the limits of existing container facilities. Several nations are developing plans to expand or create new facilities. Until such facilities are upgraded, these areas will continue to be served through transshipment operations where one or two large ports act as hubs for feeder services that disperse cargo locally.

It is important to note that trade demand and container ship availability is not one-to-one. Typically excess capacity is needed to allow liner companies to shift empty container equipment and maintain various port pools. Container traffic tends to move in cycles. [TABULAR DATA FOR TABLE 5 OMITTED] There are peak times when vessel operators have to turn away cargo or delay it for several voyages. How much higher should container vessel capacity be above demand? Estimates range from 8 percent to 15 percent, depending on the operators and trades involved.

Shipping firms have taken advantage of a favorable shipbuilding market to place orders for new vessels. At the same time, container ship demolition has been negligible for the last two years. The current world container ship fleet stands at 4.9 million TEUs, according to statistics from Containerization International. About 772,000 TEUs will be added by early 1998, about a 17 percent increase.(10)

Market Segmentation

Markets may be segmented using cargo priorities (Table 5). Cargo that is time-critical, has high value, and must be delivered within two to three days would be classed as high priority. Cargo that is time-sensitive, has high to medium value, and must be delivered within four to nine days would be medium priority. Low-priority cargo would have a medium to low value and a delivery date between ten and thirty days. The medium priority freight market would include shipments that need to be delivered faster than by conventional cargo ships, but at a lower rate than air freight. Also, medium priority freight would include cargo that exceeds aircraft weight and size limitations depending on the desired delivery date.

Cost Effectiveness

The operating cost of four hull designs is considered (Table 6) for High-Speed sealift vessels. A model of a typical commercial operation was developed and the parameters were [TABULAR DATA FOR TABLE 6 OMITTED] the same for all the hull designs:

* Transatlantic route = 2900 nautical miles

* Total annual freight = 850,000 short tons

* 20 years operation

* 20 percent operation profit margin

* Year-round operations except for two weeks per year for scheduled maintenance

All four hull designs are cost-effective. Key cost-effectiveness criteria require the cost to fall between that of sea freight and air freight. The highest rate for air was $2.75 per pound and the lowest rate for air was $0.50 per pound. The rate for large, heavy freight-like containers is closer to the higher rate for air. Therefore, all hull designs are believed to be relatively cost-effective.

When compared to airlift at $2.26 per pound, with one- or two-day delivery time, it is difficult to determine cost-effectiveness between conventional sealift costs and delivery times. The conclusions of this study recommend that the concept of High-Speed ships be promoted to commercial entrepreneurs to generate interest within the industry. In addition, financial guarantees by the government may trigger required capital investment to get started.

Modal Gap

There is currently a modal gap for international shipments between air transportation (two to three days) and conventional ship (ten to thirty days), which may be filled by the High-Speed ship technology. Figure 1 incorporates average cost per mile for each mode with the cost to carry inventory. The modal gap falls between days four through nine. Filling this modal gap will open up avenues of distribution for products that currently cannot shoulder the higher cost of air or survive the longer transit times of conventional ships. In addition, shipments by High-Speed ships will likely take away a significant part of the third day air volume due to lower cost.


The current set of world economic conditions indicates that this is an opportune time for U.S. firms to re-enter the global commercial shipbuilding market. U.S. labor rates are competitive with those of other shipbuilding nations, and a significant percentage of the world's gross tonnage is currently over fifteen years old, necessitating replacement during the next two decades. Many governments are promoting international trade, causing world markets to expand and leading to an increased demand for waterborne movement of high value and time-sensitive cargoes.

The High-Speed monohull design is a further step toward re-entry and active participation by the U.S. shipbuilding industry in global commercial shipbuilding markets. A proven High-Speed monohull design will provide substantial assurance that ship operators will be able to significantly improve delivery speed, increase reliability, and reduce operating costs. This can be accomplished by applying High-Speed ship technology to a new ocean transportation market. This assurance will be essential in securing U.S. commercial shipbuilding contracts that could help to offset anticipated downturns in Department of Defense new construction requirements.

Ship availability for national defense is vital to national security. A strong merchant fleet is critical to the defense of our nation and its vital interests. High-Speed monohull ships could be readily adapted to support specialized national defense needs in time of national emergency, including rapid movement of critical supplies in RO/RO and/or container modes, as well as High-Speed troop deployment.

Industrial base preservation is another area of national security. U.S. shipbuilders engaged in global commercial shipbuilding markets will ensure maintenance of shipbuilding and repair capabilities, skills, and facilities. The shipbuilding industrial infrastructure, including the supplier base, is a vital resource for national mobilization as well as for maintaining the health of the national economy. U.S. shipyards that successfully participate in international commercial shipbuilding will improve the shipbuilding capabilities available for military programs and will help to ensure that these resources are available to meet national emergency surge requirements.

The technology that will be developed has potential application to strategic supply and support ships, as well as for future naval surface combat ships. Key features of the design with potential national defense applications include:

* speeds of 40-50 knots, improved seakeeping, and significant payload capacity

* potential for advanced propulsions and electric drive

* potential for modular construction and machinery packaging

* reduced construction times and costs

* improved construction techniques through common configurations

Finally, U.S. shipbuilding industry participation in global commercial shipbuilding markets will result in the creation and retention of thousands of high-quality, high-skill employment opportunities for U.S. workers.

Faster Port Facility Requirements Are Critical

Traditional ships spend only 43 percent of their total time at sea. The remaining 57 percent is spent at port loading and unloading. Faster speed over the seas will be for naught unless port turnaround times are shortened. Laine and Vepsalainen(11) simulations support the concept that "the central element of creating value in shipping is the round trip frequency. Raising this frequency increases the income and decreases the unit costs by allocating the fixed costs, such as capital investments and labor costs, to a greater number of trips. Faster vessels draw greater advantage from rapid turnaround in port than does slower tonnage."

FastShip Atlantic utilizes Alicon (airlift container), a train of up to eighteen large metal pallets pulled by a single tractor buoyed by a cushion of air.(12) Alicon supports pallets on a 60-millimeter-thick cushion of compressed air escaping out of doughnut-like rubber supports, or "bearings." This system will enable stevedores to load and unload cargoes in four to six hours (or five times faster than when using conventional cranes) instead of one or two days. The company's overall goal is to shorten door-to-door delivery times for goods from the typical fourteen to thirty-five days to five days.


The Maritime Security Act has strengthened the U.S. Merchant Marine Fleet and provided vessel owners with more flexibility. Participants in the program are no longer restricted to specific trade routes or replacing vessels without government approval.

The VISA program is another innovative approach to stimulate interest in the commercial market and enable Department of Defense access to vital sealift capability and resources. Another positive aspect of these programs is the partnership between the government and vessel owners and operators. The government can now focus on force projection and High-Speed precision sustainment.

If properly funded, the CCDoTT could play a significant role in the testing, development, and promotion of High-Speed ships in the commercial market. Also, its five-year plan holds potential for enabling the U.S. to re-enter the global shipbuilding market as an industry leader.

The economic viability of High-Speed ships requires further independent study to determine if there is a market for High-Speed service. Unanswered questions include (1) how High-Speed service will stimulate demand for shipping new commodities and (2) how High-Speed service would compete with air and conventional sealift service. The potential advantages of High-Speed vessel operations suggest that research focusing on these questions should be pursued quickly.

Table 2. VISA - Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement(14)

VISA Objectives

* Assure DOD access to critical sealift capability for national security contingency requirements.

* Contribute to a robust and healthy U.S. merchant marine.

* Balance defense and economic elements of civilian transportation for national security.

Table 3. High-Speed Sealift (HSS) Vessels Five-Year Plan

FY 98 Year One:

* Update candidates and models.

* Obtain approval of specifications and NDFs.

* Establish bid specification criteria.

* Develop models and simulations of shipyard, select and design shipbuilding test bed.

* Review, select, and coordinate regulatory construction standards.

* Develop national inventory of candidate shipyards.

FY 99 Year Two:

* Finalize specifications based on technologies.

* Select HSS concept (hull, power, and configuration).

* Develop preliminary HSS design; also develop a rapid shipboard loading system.

* Implement and demonstrate initial set of shipbuilding technologies in test bed.

* Continue refinement of models.

FY 2000 Year Three:

* Develop a contract HSS design.

* Issue RFP and award contract.

* Begin HSS construction.

* Demonstrate and test individual HSS shipbuilding technologies in test bed.

* Apply models to ongoing and new programs.

FY 2001-2002 Years Four and Five:

* Continue HSS construction and conduct operational tests and delivery of HSS.

* Demonstrate dual-use (DOD and commercial) HSS in concert with agile port in joint military exercise and commercial application.

* Demonstrate integrated shipbuilding technologies in test bed.

* Transfer fabrication technologies to shipyards.


1 H. Norman Schwarzkopf, General, & Peter Petre, (1992). It Doesn't Take a Hero. New York Bantam Books.

2 Michael L. Gordon, and Bernard E. Trainor, General (1995). The Generals' War. Boston: Little, Brown and Company.

3 FastShip Atlantic slide presentation. Source: Vickerman, Zachary, and Miller.

4 High-Speed Sealift/Agile Port Operational Concept Document. Prepared by the CCDoTT.

5 H.R. 1350/Public Law 104-239, approved October 8, 1996 as the Maritime Security Act of 1996. (110 Star. 3118).

6 Shippers should factor in consideration of increased insurance costs when moving cargo on overage ships.

7 Albert J. Herberger, Vice Admiral, (1997, April). "The Maritime Security Act." Defense Transportation Journal, pp. 1-8.

8 From the Annual Report of the Maritime Administration MARAD) for the fiscal year (FY) which ended on September 30, 1995, submitted to Congress in accordance with Section 208 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, as amended.

9 Center for the Commercial Deployment of Transportation Technologies. Prepared by Dr. J. Richard Williams and Lt. General Kenneth R. Wykle (Ret.) for a NCAMA briefing for USTRANSCOM February 25, 1997.

10 Allen R. Wastler, (1996, March 5). "Looking for a Full Load." The Journal of Commerce. p. 1A.

11 Jouni T. Laine, and Ari P. J. Vepsalainen, "Economies of Speed in Sea Transportation," International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management, 24(8): pp. 33-41.

12 Steven Ashley, "Next-Generation Freighter." Mechanical Engineering, 117(9): pp. 90-93.

13 Albert J. Herberger, (1997, April). "The Maritime Security Act." Defense Transportation Journal. p. 8.

14 Albert J. Herberger, (1997, April). "The Maritime Security Act." Defense Transportation Journal. p. 8.

15 Joseph Weber, (1995, September 18). "Warp Speed on the High Seas." Business Week. p. 155.

16 The SEV Concept Litton, Ingalls Shipbuilding. Prepared for NCAMA briefing to USTRANSCOM February 25, 1997.

17 An assessment of Fast Sealift Ships. Prepared by Band, Lavis & Associates, Inc.

Mr. Farris, EM-AST&L, is assistant professor of logistics, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas 76203-1396; Mr. Welch is operations coordinator, Roadway Package Service, an FDX Company, Gulfport, Mississippi 39532-4252.
Table 1. Maritime Security Program Contractors(13)

American President Lines, Ltd.                          9 vessels
Central Gulf Lines, Inc.                                3 vessels
Waterman Steamship Corp.                                4 vessels
Crowley American Transport, Inc.                        3 vessels
First American Bulk Carrier Group Corp.                 2 vessels
Farrell Lines Incorporated                              3 vessels
Lykes Bros. Steamship Co., Inc.                         3 vessels
Maersk Line, Ltd.                                       4 vessels
OSG Car Carriers, Inc.                                   1 vessel
Sea-Land Service, Inc.                                 15 vessels

Total                                                  47 vessels

Large containerships [greater than] 3,000 TEU                  21
Medium containerships [less than] 3,000 TEU                    15
LASH                                                            5
COMBO CONT-RO/RO                                                3
Car truck carriers                                              3

128,661 total TEUs
1,360,268 total sq. ft. RO/RO capacity
2,033,881 total DWT
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.