Hobson's Choice for the American Maritime Industry: The Navy or Nothing
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
Pagination or Media Count:
Thomas Hobson, born 1544, kept a livery stable in Cambridge, England. He was not of the-customer-is-always-right school. Gentlemen who showed up at his stable for a horse were required to take either the horse nearest the stable door or none. Thus, Hobsons choice became an idiom for no choice at all. Those who work in Americas maritime fields are increasingly funneled into such a choice defense and government work-or none. The U.S. Navys growing share of the American maritime industry carries no benefit. In fact, nothing could be more detrimental to Americas long-term endurance as the worlds greatest seagoing power. If there is one problem vexing the Navy today, it is the difficulty of maintaining a reasonably sized force for a reasonable cost. While there is ample room to improve efficiency within the Navy itself, it would be futile to confront this challenge without also developing a plan to improve Americas commercial maritime sector. American maritime power has traditionally resembled a pyramid, with a vigorous commercial shipping and shipbuilding industry at the base and a powerful Navy at the top. Today, the pyramid is inverted. We have an anemic commercial shipping fleet and virtually no large-scale commercial ship construction--yet we maintain a preeminent naval force. For perspective, this essay first examines the history of the interaction between Americas commercial maritime industries and the Navy next, it reviews this relationships current troubled state and finally, it ponders some solutions for correcting a 40-year slide toward a spear tip without a shaft.
- Economics and Cost Analysis
- Marine Engineering