The war in Ukraine is in its third year, another conflict in Gaza is at its six-month mark, and a military build-up continues in Asia amid rising tensions.

In such a fraught geopolitical moment, a long-standing question over the depleted US-flagged shipping sector is being asked more loudly: Does America have the shipping capacity to rise to the call if the country’s military is ever drawn into a conflict that requires its merchant marine in significant numbers?

Retired US Navy rear admiral Mark “Buz” Buzby, who served as federal maritime administrator until the closing days of the Trump administration in 2021, said the country’s merchant marine is probably at one of the lowest points in history.