Article from the Marine Officer
September –November 2000

  The Canadian suffer the indignity of a miserable ordeal in early August 2000 that could become reality for the U.S. should our merchant marine be allowed to dissolve. Canada, because of a lack of a suitable ship to carry $151 million of its army weaponry, ammunition and armored vehicles was forced to hire a flag-of-convenience vessel to transport its munitions.
  Third Ocean Marine, the U.S. owner of the Soviet-built, Ukrainian crewed freighter GTS KATIE, decided to use their leverage as a tool to recover close to $200,000 they alleged was to them by the ship’s charterer. Carrying what was 10% of Canada’s military hardware, Third Ocean ordered the ship into a holding pattern while sailing in international waters off Newfoundland. Canada continued to be held hostage as days of agonizing negotiations went nowhere.
  After another round of talks broke down, Canada secured permission from the ship’s country registry, St Vincents and the Grenadines, to board the vessel and retake their armaments. On August 3, soldiers were ordered to move in and a helicopter attempted to lower 14 armed commandos onto the ship as the Ukrainian Captain steer the vessel on a series “violent maneuvers” in an attempt to avoid the intrusion. With out a shot, the Canadians seize control the KATIE and redirected it to the mainland. Canada’s National Post painted the incident as a national humiliation.
  “It is hard to decide which is the most pitiful part of the story. Is it that Canada’s Navy, which in 1946 was the third largest in the world, today doesn’t even have the ability to transport our army to battle?
  Is it that a key element of our national security was delegated to a foreign company?”
  Acting Maritime Administrator John Graykowski pointed out that the incident characterizes the needs to prevent such tribulations by rescuing our diminishing merchant marine. “This is precisely why it is necessary for the United States, as the world’s only remaining superpower, to have an assured absolutely reliable sealift capacity.”
  Former Military Sealift Commander Vice Admiral James Perkins III (ret.) who serves as senior military adviser to the American Maritime Congress warned that the U.S. should salvage an important lesson from the incident.
  “Canada’s dilemma is a classic example of the danger of becoming militarily dependent on ships registered in other countries. Even if foreign ships are available, it’s unwise now or ever for any country to rely on foreign tonnage and foreign seamen to carry out its defense or foreign policy missions. The United States should remember this lesson well, and realize once again they cannot function militarily without a robust maritime fleet grounded on a thriving US Merchant Marine. We simply can’t do without ships under the American flag, and manned by American crews as a vital part of our national defense arsenal.”

Scary reality
One of over 300 articles