In a crisis, the government relies on oceangoing U.S.-flag ships and U.S.-citizen crews to help the military. To ensure their availability, the government provides stipends and requires certain government cargoes to be shipped on U.S.-flag ships.
But we testified that:
U.S.-flag ships have become more expensive to run and the government has shipped less cargo—making it harder for carriers to stay in business.
There may not be enough U.S.-citizen sailors to meet defense needs.
In 2014, Congress required the Department of Transportation to develop a U.S. maritime strategy. We’ve recommended completing this strategy in the related report – MARITIME SECURITY: DOT Is Still Finalizing Strategy to Address Challenges to Sustaining U.S.-Flag Fleet.