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Sealift: The evolution of American military sea transportation

Posted on:2005-10-12Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:The University of AlabamaCandidate:Mercogliano, Salvatore RobertFull Text:PDF
At the turn of the twentieth century, with the United States emerging on the world stage as a major power, it faced a unique situation. While its military and economic power was increasing, the nation's merchant marine---the privately owned fleet of vessels used to transport imports and exports---was on the decline. This had an impact on the commercial sector, and it had serious ramifications on the American military's ability to project forces beyond its shore. The military's sealift strategy underwent a major evolution over the next century.; Facing its first challenge in the Spanish-American War of 1898, the Army and Navy initiated plans on how to meet their merchant marine needs---termed sealift. Both services created specialized organizations to supervise, charter, and utilize American merchant shipping. Even with services in place, the First World War demonstrated that a strategy relying on chartering merchant ships required the nation to maintain a strong merchant marine. Legislation in the inter-war years did not foster this policy. Fortunately for the nation, a forward-thinking government made plans for rebuilding the merchant marine on the eve of the Second World War. A large and powerful executive agency supervised the construction, operation, and coordination with the military of the vast merchant fleet built by the U.S. Maritime Commission under the Merchant Marine Act of 1936.; As the United States emerged as a superpower after the Second World War, the military had to be able to project forces worldwide. During a series of conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and Iraq, the military's sealift strategy underwent a dramatic change from the creation of a unified military sealift organization---the Military Sea Transportation Service---to different strategies over the use of government-owned versus commercially chartered merchant ships. The difficulty in balancing these different sources of shipping proved as challenging as the actual sealift of forces.; While many studies have looked at the commercial facet of the U.S. merchant marine, almost none have looked at the historical aspects of military sea transportation.
Keywords/Search Tags:Military, Merchant marine, Sealift, American, World
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