U.S. Maritime Administration

1. Working for MarAd

MarAd seal

I spent four years working for the U.S. Maritime Administration. At that time it came under the Department of Commerce and its duties and functions were being greatly expanded. It is interesting to note that this was during a republican administration and the President was Richard Nixon. My title was Western Region Port Development Representative. I was the first person to hold the position and that, to some extent, allowed me to design the job around myself. There was a fair amount of research money available with which we could address problems of a generic nature that plagued the port industry. I worked closely with various industry associations to find worthy projects for research, and in the process I became familiar with almost all of the ports on the U.S. west coast plus Hawaii. I made many friends and contacts within the industry and that eventually proved useful when I started a consulting business.

MarAd’s core responsibility was subsidizing U.S. flag vessels so that they could compete successfully with vessels that registered under foreign flags, resulting in their access to cheap labor. U.S. flag vessels were required to hire U.S. citizens. Another MarAd responsibility was the administration of the National Defense Reserve Fleet which, in the Western Region, was located at Suisun Bay. I was allowed to visit that fleet on one occasion and was given a guided tour.

Reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay

Reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay

For me, the most interesting part of this tour was that my path crossed once again with the USS PICTOR AF-54, the same vessel I served on in the Navy. (To see several posts regarding the PICTOR  click here). The Navy had returned the PICTOR to the Maritime Administration in 1970 and there she was, my former home afloat for two years. I went aboard and wandered around. It was like strolling through a ghost town. In fact, the whole moored fleet had a kind of spooky feeling to it. This was accentuated by the wind whistling through the rigging and the moan and groan of all the ships working against each other. I roamed here and there to see if I could find any evidence of my former presence — I could not. I went into my old stateroom and stared at my old berth. I went into the wardroom which looked the same except there was nobody there. There was always somebody in the wardroom. Finally, I went up to the bridge and looked at the chart table. The drawers beneath it still had charts in them and there was a set of parallel rulers adrift on top. The whole experience was rather strange and melancholy. You really cannot go back again.

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Saturday, March 27th, 2010 U.S. Maritime Administration No Comments