Speaking Nov. 19 in the House of Representatives in the U.S. Congress, Representative Helen Delich Bentley (R-Maryland) made a case for the Phoenix.
Arguing for U.S. shipbuilding capability, she said there is one significant immediate commercial market opportunity and that is the Phoenix World City American Flagship project.
She said that the three 250,000-ton ship project was market-driven and contract ready and that she knew of no other project approaching this scale or potential impact on the nation's shipyards.
While Bentley said "the Congress and the Administration rightly decried the inroads of foreign built, subsidized ships and underpaid crews into what are essentially U.S. trades," she also said that retaliatory action was not the only recourse.
Instead, she pointed out that the U.S. has the tools to revitalize its shipbuilding industry.
Bentley also noted that Americans represent 85 percent of the passengers in the cruise industry and that they spend some $5 billion a year. However, she said that "zero dollars are paid in corporate income and shipboard payroll taxes by what is essentially a booming U.S. based industry."
According to Bentley, estimated revenues in the cruise market will reach $117 billion between 1992 and the end of this decade.
Citing the U.S. Flagship Project, Bentley said she was confident that U.S. shipyards can enter and compete in the passenger market.
Bentley said the U.S. would be competitive in building complex ships like large passenger vessels. She said wage rates in the U.S. were competitive. She also said that since the cruise market is a dollar market, yards building under dollar contracts will have the double advantage of the competitive value of the dollar and freedom from currency costs and fluctuations.
Bentley also pointed out two markets which she said were effectively reserved for U.S. flag operators: the meeting and convention market - with annual revenues currently tenfold those of the cruise industry and which is driven in large part by tax deductibility, only available to U.S. flag ships; and U.S. coastal cruising which can only be served by ships built in the United States.
Bentley also said that the "virtual shipyard" concept (see CIN, Sept. 17, 1993) represents a relatively small investment which can be leveraged into a multi-billion dollar market-driven American shipbuilding project and real jobs.