Student Research

The disaster response capabilities of the United States Merchant Fleet

A capstone project submitted to the faculty of the California Maritime Academy in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies and Maritime Affairs.

The United States merchant fleet has responded to multiple natural disasters in the past twenty years. They have used their wide scope and available fleet along with strategic positioning for timely response and assistance. Departments such as Military Sealift Command (MSC), the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Maritime Administration (MARAD) have all played vital roles in the first days after domestic and international disasters. With the magnitude of meteorological events expected to increase in coming years, the resources of existing response programs will be strained. A more cohesive relationship between the current government lead as well as non-governmental organizations and the merchant fleet should be considered. The merchant fleet can provide unique resources that have proven valuable in the cases of past disasters. Looking beyond military lead organizations and into the commercial deep water and brown water merchant fleets may prove pivotal in future disaster scenarios.