Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Strategic sealift, the movement of cargo in support of deployed troops in an international conflict, relies primarily on a national asset--a National Defense Reserve Force, administered by MARAD, and a commercial asset--the US Merchant Marine. The decline of the merchant marine, along with the attendant decline and unmanageable nature of MARAD-administered forces, made sealift (which was once carried out simply by purchasing space on US carriers) the limiting factor in the successful execution of Operations DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM. This decline is documented in a literature review. A nine case analysis of sealift performance, examining three scenarios at three times, is then presented. The analysis yields mixed results. In some cases sealift is sufficient, in others, it is not. The substandard cases point to areas ripe for change in policy or procurement.