Logistics: Why Ships No Longer Go To Sea

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June 15,2008: Navies are facing a crises because of rising fuel costs. Last year, these costs went up fifty percent, and another 25 percent jump is expected this year. Oil prices have been growing steadily over the past decade, as the huge economies of India and China both experienced strong growth. Global GDP has grown from $29 trillion to $48 trillion (a 65 percent jump) in the last decade, but oil production has not kept up (increasing 10 percent, while natural gas went up 29 percent and coal 40 percent). Defense spending was up 45 percent in that period, meaning that most navies (and air forces) are responding to the skyrocketing fuel prices by spending fewer days at sea. Fuel oil for ships is now approaching $600 a ton. A destroyer, moving at high speed, can burn over 100 tons a day. A large aircraft carrier is, at current fuel prices, much cheaper to run on nuclear power, than fuel oil. Even smaller ships burn a lot more fuel in aggregate.

All this means crews get less training, and naval chores get less attention. This is great news for smugglers, pirates and terrorists, who can expect to see fewer warships out on patrol, as the price of fuel keeps rising.

 


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