Editorial: What I Want For National Maritime Day

American Flag Ship
An American Flag Flying From A US Merchant Ship. Photo By Logra, Shutterstock

As founder of gCaptain, I first want to thank all Veterans of the US Merchant Marine. Our definition of veteran includes all who have served in any capacity aboard US Flagged ships. 

We deeply honor the veterans of World War II  for their undeniable service as veterans but also consider US Merchant Mariners who have risked their lives aboard US Flagged Ships in disputed water – including the coast of Korea, Vietnam, Russia during the cold war, Iraq, Somalia and the coastal waters of China today – a cut above the rest. 

While today is an American holiday we also take a moment to honor our Merchant Navy brothers of all allied nations. You guys are veterans too and we thank you for your service. 

Finally, we thank the military veterans who have served at sea including USCG, Navy, Marines, Army and Military Sealift sailors. 

What more can be said but a simple thanks to those mentioned above and our encouragement for them to stand proudly today and on veterans day later this year!

But can gCaptain do more to support the US Merchant Marine?

A few days before National Maritime Day each year, gCaptain receives a flood of press releases touting the good work being done by American companies, nonprofits, unions and government entities like MARAD. We don’t post any of it. 

When National Maritime Day comes around industry leaders, mariners and patriotic Americans send links to other maritime news sites and ask why we haven’t shared the good news. The articles they send are invariably reprints of the press releases sent to us days ago. 

These press releases contain too much back patting or otherwise good news and not enough reality. The reality is that the leadership of the U.S. Merchant Marine in 2018 is failing. Has been for years. And while it’s not all the current leaderships fault they do need to acknowledge reality and publish the truth about their failure. 

The reality is that the US Merchant Marine is failing.  This  means that MARAD, which supports it, the USCG which governs it, the US Navy, which protects it and the Pentagon which needs it in the event of a large scale war… all of these entities and their senior leadership is failing

So what is gCaptain’s official stance?

There are a few topics in which we are unapologetically supporters of (e.g. Freedom Of The Seas and Honoring American Merchant Marine and allied Merchant Navy veterans of every war!) but otherwise, gCaptain doesn’t have an official editorial position on political matters. 

Unlike some websites we are non-political and, with rare exception, we don’t publish puff pieces ( articles written to promote a specific agenda) about any company, union or government entity. Our job is to publish the news. If a company, union or government entity like MARAD does something newsworthy (negative or positive) we print it but if it’s PR ‘news’ (e.g. most of what’s published in company, union and government newsletters) we don’t. Same goes for the Jones Act.  

But very rarely do these organizations make real news. There have been times when maritime leaders of this country called our newsroom often and asked what they can do to make real news, to help real mariners, to strengthen the message they preach. In 2008 the MARAD administrator called frequently and engaged gCaptain in discussions monthly. In 2009 the Commandant of the US Coast Guard did the same almost every week along with a handful of Navy Admirals in the years since. 

We have told them all the same thing. gCaptain supports the maritime industry and our primary duty is to the mariner, not just US Mariners but mariners everywhere. We support the US Merchant Marine, MARAD, MSC, unions and American shipping companies not because we are nationalistic or political but because those organizations have an opportunity to lead our industry. Just as we support the equivalent organizations in every major maritime country from Europe to Asia. Anyone who shows leadership for positive change. 

National Maritime day is not about me nor it is about gCaptain but I will share what I want because it is what our readers want. 

To the leaders of MARAD and MSC, to the Admirals of the Navy and USCG, to the CEO’s of shipping companies and flag states worldwide, to politicians in Congress and at the IMO, to presidents of countries and classification societies… I ask only one thing:

Don’t send us any more press releases unless they contain a list of your faults or failures (it’s ok, we are all human, we all have faults, just don’t hide them) and a solid plan to fix them. 

Don’t ask us to publish something good about yourselves.

Make us write about you DOING GREAT THINGS.

And if not sure if an initiative is real news or just a press release all you have to do is ask. 

Admirals Buzby, Zukunft, Mewbourne, Richardson and Helis along with all American and Allied executive leaders willing to push real change to strengthen the safety and professionalism of our industry please know that gCaptain supports the Merchant Marine! 

Being the most read maritime news in the world means we are busy and our staff is indefensibly smaller than yours so we can not chase you for the story but, if you want to call, we will make the time for you if you first make the time for us. Review your turnover notes and you will discover that this policy is not new, your predecessors made use of this offer but so far none of you have. 

We are ready and willing and eager to support the US Merchant Marine but we need your help and, so far in 2018 only one Admiral has made that call and his name is not Buzby.

Captain John Konrad
Founder gCaptain.com
Proud US Merchant Marine Veteran
[email protected]