Article from the
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.
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.
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
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
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
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