Congress Bestows its Highest Honor on WWII Merchant Marines
Congress has bestowed its highest honor on merchant mariners who fought in World War II, almost eight decades after the conflict in which more than 8,000 of them were killed.
More than two years after Congress voted to approve the award, leaders on Capitol Hill on Wednesday awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to surviving merchant mariners who provided equipment, food, fuel and other materials to military troops around the world during World War II. While they suffered what was thought to be the highest per capita casualty rate in the war, they did not receive veteran status until 1988 because they are not a branch of the military.
The U.S. Merchant Marine provided goods in many different arenas during the war, including at the invasion of Normandy. The legislation passed by Congress in March 2020 awarding the medal cites a 1944 New York Times article that said the Normandy invasion “would not have been possible without the Merchant Marine.″ Congressional leaders thanked the mariners for their service and said it was long overdue.
Gas Prices Reach New Record High
Average gas prices in the U.S. reached a new record high Thursday, according to AAA's gas price calculator, after Republican senators slammed the Biden administration for a "de facto ban on new drilling." The national average cost of a regular gallon of gasoline hit $4.589 early Thursday morning. This price topped Wednesday's previous record of $4.567, which had beat Tuesday's record of $4.523, which in turn had beat Monday's record of $4.470. The price comes as the European Union edges toward oil sanctions on Russia amid the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine. It also comes amid record-high inflation, with the consumer price index reaching 8.3% in April, hovering near March's 40-year high.
Thyssenkrupp Eyes German Shipyard Industry Consolidation
Germany’s second-largest defense group Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) TKAG.DE wants to play a leading role in consolidating the German and European shipyard industry, its new Chief Executive Officer told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.
“If the road to a European giant is still too difficult, a German champion could be formed first,” Oliver Burkhard was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
Burkhard said a merger, for example, could be formed with smaller German rivals Luerssen and German Naval Yards (GNYK).
The company has been building up additional capacity since the German government’s announcement of a 100 billion euro special fund for the military after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Burkhard added.
Chinese Navy Ship Operating Off of Australia, Canberra Says
A People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) intelligence ship is currently operating off the north-west shelf of Australia, the Australian Department of Defence said Friday. Australia’s DoD identified the vessel as China’s Dongdiao-class auxiliary intelligence ship Haiwangxing (792) and released imagery and video of the ship.
A graphic of Haiwangxing’s voyage showed the ship crossed Australia’s exclusive economic zone on the morning of May 6. On Sunday, it was approximately 70 nautical miles off the Harold E. Holt Communications Station, in Exmouth, Western Australia, while a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft monitored the ship.
South Korea’s Shipbuilding Order Book Reaches Six-Year High
Despite concerns that the global boom in shipbuilding orders is slowing, South Korean shipbuilders’ order book reached a six-year high in April 2022. Driven by the strength of the market in 2021 and brisk orders in the first four months of this year, the South Koreans reported their orders are now at their highest point since April 2016.
Overall shipbuilding orders were down by a third in April according to data from Clarkson Research Service. They showed that a total of 71 ships were ordered last month accounting for 2.51 million gross tons. China and South Korea continue to be the two countries dominating the newbuild market but partially spurred by the large LNG carrier order for Qatar, China had nearly twice the market share versus the South Koreans in April. China received orders for 45 vessels which totaled 1.54 million gross tons. Despite coming in second in April, South Korea’s shipbuilders received orders for 16 additional ships totaling 820,000 gross tons. Deliveries in some cases are now being pushed beyond 2024 as the larger shipyards report their building slots are fully committed.