gCaptain, the “world’s top-visited maritime and offshore industry news website,” has an op-ed out ripping President Joe Biden for appointing a U.S. Navy veteran to the post of US Maritime Administrator despite her having zero experience in shipping:

From the op-ed:

Yesterday afternoon, President Biden announced his intention to nominate Rear Admiral Ann Phillips, US Navy (Retired), as the next US Maritime Administrator, a position that has been vacant since Rear Admiral Mark Buzby stepped down following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in January.

Phillips is a highly decorated Navy leader with a long list of accomplishments and is highly respected by everyone gCaptain has interviewed. She was head of the Navy’s Climate Change Task Force and is a highly sought after consultant on climate security issues. She holds an MBA. She was chairman of a local government Sea Level Rise Preparedness and Resilience project. She once captained a Navy warship. The appointment looks great on paper except for one kinda big problem. This is not a warship position. It’s a commercial shipping appointment and she has zero experience aboard any commercial ships. She does not even have experience leading navy military sealift ships.

It’s just not relevant experience, argues gCaptain founder John Konrad:

Under President Trump, US Navy Rear Admiral Mark Buzby — a graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy — was in the position:

The position of US Maritime Administrator is traditionally held by a commercial shipowner or captain, but President Obama left the position unfilled for years then selected a former congressional staffer, David Matsuda. He was highly unpopular and was pushed out in 2013. Obama followed the appointment with a relatively low ranking navy submarine commander Chip Jaenichen.

The Trump administration appointed US Navy Rear Admiral Mark Buzby for the position. Buzby, while not a commercial mariner or ship owner, was a graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA), ran sealift operations for the Navy, was on the board of directors of Carnival Cruise Line, and spent his first year traveling around the country, meeting with ship captains and commercial maritime stake holders. He reached out and listened to stakeholder needs. Buzby became highly popular within the industry on his promise to publish a new US Maritime Strategy to resuscitate the US Merchant Marine. He did write that strategy but it was lost in the malaize of government bureaucracy.

But Buzby didn’t do enough to fix the agency:

Numerous sources inside the beltway have told gCaptain that MARAD is fundamentally broken. Nearly a decade of neglect by the Obama Administration left MARAD with a broken, tired, and ineffective workforce. Buzby made only one major internal move of significance, replacing the highly unpopular Obama selected Army Colonel running USMMA with a major shipping CEO. “The rest of MARAD he naively thought he could motivate and foster, as he had done many times during his naval career,” says a US Navy Officer who works with MARAD. “But commercial shipping is not something the Navy understands. The dead wood inside MARAD showed some signs of life under his strong leadership but, once he left, the place reverted to infighting and morass. If Buz had fired more people like Hellis, and replaced them with shipping experts, his legacy might have continued.”

And here’s Ross Kennedy, a logistics expert, pushing back on conspiracy theories but saying what’s causing the crisis is “malignant stupidity” from the government and a lack of people with real expertise in positions of regulatory oversight:

One other issue is that ports that said they moved to 24/7 operations to alleviate bottlenecks aren’t necessarily working 24/7 operations:

Here’s a video of what it looks like when things are humming along:


♬ original sound – Crane operations

And here:


♬ Robots – Flight of the Conchords