Shipping: Better by the Box

Theoretically protected by $416 million a year in federal subsidies, the U.S. maritime industry has been drifting toward economic shipwreck for 20 years. Partly because the Government pays 72¢ out of every $1 in wages earned aboard subsidized ships, their operators have felt little spur to cut costs and improve services. Some of the sharpest criticism comes from the inside. Says Vice President Joseph A. Medernach of Moore-McCormack Lines: "The industry is one of the most backward, stodgiest and stuffiest businesses around."

Now, with the increasing popularity of jet air freight, along with the promise of truly gigantic cargo planes within...

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