Project Trident Call for Articles: Maritime Infrastructure and Trade

Submissions Due: April 19, 2021
Week Dates: May 3-7, 2021
Article Length: 1000-3000 words
Submit to:

By Jimmy Drennan

CIMSEC is partnering with Maersk Line, Limited to launch the Project Trident call for articles on maritime infrastructure and trade! Maersk Line, Limited provides end-to-end transportation solutions to support the unique requirements of the U.S. government. As the largest owner and operator of U.S. flag vessels trading internationally and the largest participant in the VISA/MSP programs, these network ensures reliable and regular connection to all corners of the globe.

Security and prosperity go hand-in-hand, and as the complexity of the global economy grows, so too does its dependence on the maritime domain. The increasing connectedness of national and regional economies, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, have highlighted the importance of infrastructure and trade in maritime security.

Last year, shipping carriers rejected U.S. agricultural exports worth hundreds of millions of dollars in favor of returning empty containers to China, which faces a container shortage due to a surge in consumer goods. Government stimulus packages and shifting consumer trends resulting from the pandemic have put a strain on global container capacity, and China is making it more profitable for shippers to bring back empty containers than American agricultural exports. Meanwhile, containers full of American goods stack up in slammed ports like Los Angeles and Long Beach. The growing intricacies of the global supply chain demonstrate the need for a coordinated maritime strategy.

Port capacity and accessibility is rapidly changing as the developing world increasingly becomes more urbanized and developed, thereby increasing their demand of the global maritime commons. The volume of commercial maritime traffic is ever increasing, and the ability of ports to keep pace is in flux. Ports have significant geopolitical value as well, especially as China is securing long-term leases on port infrastructure beyond its borders.

The global shipbuilding industrial base remains heavily concentrated in China, Japan, and South Korea, which account for around 90 percent of all ships launched in recent years. In 2018, the world’s global merchant fleet totaled 50,000 vessels with a combined value of $851 billion, and a total deadweight tonnage of 1 billion. The shipbuilding industrial base in the United States is dominated primarily by military shipbuilding contracts while large-scale commercial shipbuilding capacity has largely gone overseas. The shipbuilding industrial base of China, both commercial and military capacity combined, is overshadowing that of the United States, raising questions about their respective abilities to mobilize industry in a time of conflict.

Often overlooked is the critical, but often opaque world of shipping finance and insurance. For example, China is rapidly becoming the preferred option for ship financing as western banks exit the market space. U.S. Military Sealift Command contracts with foreign tanker companies to charter ships for some overseas operations. These ships are sometimes leased to tanker companies from Chinese banks, with little to no awareness by the U.S. government.

Data is the new lifeblood of global commerce and the shipping industry is in the midst of a digital revolution. The industry is looking to seize opportunities posed by emerging technologies and networks, but must be considerate of the associated cybersecurity concerns and the risks of failing to keep pace with change.

CIMSEC wants your ideas on how infrastructure and trade will impact the future of international maritime security. What could be the maritime security impacts of Sino-American economic interdependence, changing infrastructure capacity, rapid port development, decarbonization, digital revolution, and other trends and facets of global maritime infrastructure?

Authors are invited to answer these questions and more as we consider the future of maritime infrastructure and trade. Send all submissions to

Jimmy Drennan is the President of CIMSEC. Contact him at

Featured Image: A container terminal (bellergy via Pixabay)

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