merchant marine


merchant marine
1. the vessels of a nation that are engaged in commerce.
2. the officers and crews of such vessels.
[1850-55, Amer.]

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Commercial ships of a nation, whether privately or publicly owned, and the personnel who operate such ships, as distinct from the personnel of naval vessels.

Merchant ships are used to transport people, raw materials, and manufactured goods. Merchant fleets can be important economic assets for nations with limited natural resources or a small industrial base. By carrying the commerce of other nations on the seas, a merchant fleet contributes to its home nation's foreign-exchange earnings, promotes trade, and provides employment. The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (founded 1943) is in Kings Point, N.Y.

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      the commercial ships of a nation, whether privately or publicly owned. The term merchant marine also denotes the personnel that operate such ships, as distinct from the personnel of naval vessels. Merchant ships are used to transport people, raw materials, and manufactured goods. Merchant fleets can be important economic assets for nations that have limited natural resources or a relatively small industrial base. By carrying the commerce of other nations on the seas, a merchant fleet contributes to its home nation's foreign-exchange earnings, promotes trade, and provides employment.

      At the end of World War II the United States operated nearly half the world's oceangoing merchant marine, and Great Britain had another major share. Both nations' fleets declined in the postwar years, however, and Japan and Greece had become the largest oceangoing shippers by the end of the 20th century. Many ships owned in other countries operate under Liberian or Panamanian registry to avoid the heavy taxes and intrusive regulations imposed by their home nations.

      Merchant shipping includes cargo ships, passenger ships, and tankers. Cargo ships can be either liners, which travel on established routes at regular intervals between specified ports; or tramps, which instead take cargo where and when it offers and to any port. Some of the newer types of cargo ships are bulk carriers, which transport ores or other dry cargoes in bulk; container ships, which handle standardized containers in a highly mechanized fashion; and roll-on, roll-off ships, which handle cargoes through their bow or stern ports. Passenger ships include ocean liners (which have now largely been supplanted by jet aircraft for transoceanic travel), cruise ships, and ferries. Tankers are used to transport crude oil, oil-based fuels, and natural gas. See also ship.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • merchant marine — mer chant ma*rine , n. The ships owned by nationals of a particular country that are engaged in civilian commerce; also, the personnel operating those vessels. Distinguished from the {navy}, which contains the vessels of war. [PJC] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • merchant marine — n. 1. all the ships of a nation that are used in commerce 2. their personnel …   English World dictionary

  • merchant marine — noun 1. the crew of a merchant vessel • Hypernyms: ↑crew 2. conveyance provided by the ships belonging to one country or industry • Syn: ↑shipping, ↑cargo ships, ↑merchant vessels • Hypernyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • merchant marine — noun Date: 1839 1. the privately or publicly owned commercial ships of a nation 2. the personnel of a merchant marine; specifically a member of a merchant marine • merchant mariner noun …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • merchant marine — noun a) Ships dedicated to commercial, rather than military, purposes, with their crew. Captain Robert Dollar of San Francisco, dean of American ship owners, . . . is still, although nearly 80, the eager champion of an American privately owned… …   Wiktionary

  • merchant marine — merchant ma rine noun count or uncount AMERICAN a country s ships that carry goods rather than soldiers and weapons a. the people who work on these ships …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • merchant marine — Synonyms and related words: Naval Construction Battalion, RN, Royal Navy, Seabees, USN, United States Navy, argosy, armada, bottoms, coast guard, division, escadrille, fleet, flotilla, line, marine, merchant fleet, merchant navy, mosquito fleet,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • merchant marine — noun N. Amer. another term for merchant navy …   English new terms dictionary

  • merchant marine — /ˌmɜ:tʃənt mə ri:n/, merchant navy / mɜ:tʃənt neɪvi/ noun all the commercial ships of a country …   Dictionary of banking and finance

  • merchant marine — mer′chant marine′ n. 1) naut. the ships of a nation that are engaged in commerce 2) naut. the officers and crews of such ships • Etymology: 1850–55 …   From formal English to slang


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