ba CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM *
Strength of the Soviet Merchant
1. Attached ls an unclassified text on the growth of the Soviet merchant fleet.
2. This materiel vsa prepared at the request
Office of General Counsel, for usember of Congreas
pRowm or ms soner mjechapt flejc
She seaborne foreign trade of the USSR, particularly Inhaa been growing at an lncreaalng rate thia growth in foreign trade, the nerchant fleet of the USSRexpandingigh rate. 5 the tonnage of thahah almost doubled,
With the exception of vessels received as reparatlone froa Germany, noat of the vessels added to the Soriet merchant fleet since World War II hare been of new construction. esult, the average age of the ressels In the fleet la relatively low. However,5 In tha case of dry cargond9 In the case of tankers, the vessels added to the Soriet nerchant fleet vere largely of out-BOded design, smaller end slower than equlrolent vessels added to the fleets of the major maritime powers during those veers. Thus tha USSR Is only now beginning to buildleet of vessels which are economically competitive with the latest vessels added to Free World fleets. At tbe end0 mooarn, eceroeUUve veasela made up little more thanercent of tho tonnage In the Soriet merchant fleet.
Aa of0 there were moreeasela In the Soviet merchant fleet vithotal tonnage estimatedillion deedvelgfat tons,ercent of the world total, lhe ranking of the Soviet fleet among the fleets of the leading maritime povare is shown in the table below:
4 The Liberian and Panamanian fleets consist largely of "flag of convenience vessels owned by American and Greek shipping interests.
Deliveries of nev vessels to the Soviet fleet0WT. The fleets Of five other nations received higher tonnages, in Boat cases closeillion DWT. However the fleet of the USSRonsiderably higher rate of net growth than most of the fleets of coaparableercent coopered vith percent for most of the Western nations.
Deliveries to the fleet during the remainder of the current Seven Tear, ere planned to attain even higher levels. During this period there will he en Increased emphasis on the acquisition of modem super-tankers. By the endhe fleet should totalhipsinioua tonnageillion DWT, one-third of vhlch will he tanker tonnage. If thla growth is achieved the Soviet fleet could conceivably risea to 8th place in world rankings. Most of the vessels delivered will be fully comparable to the latest vessels being delivered to Free World fleets. It is estimated that by the end5 the tannage of modern vessels In the tanker fleet will amount to At leastercent and In the dry cargo fleet to at leastercent. Tho Sovlst fleet would then be on aa approximate par with the fleets of Vest Germany, France, and the Wetherlands ln terms of else and In terms of ship quality.
The seaborne foreign trade of the USSB0 totaled more than ho million tons over half of vhlch was carried in foreign vessels. 8 at the time the Seven Tear Plan was announced, the USSB statedoal5 the reduction of the share of Soviet seaborne foreign trade carried In foreign vessels to belowercent. To date the Soviets have made little progress In achieving this target end It ls probable that the accelerated growth of Soviet trade, particularly of petroleum exports, will make attainment of this goal unlikely. To the extent that the USSB is able to reduce its utilization of foreign snipping, increased emounts of foreign exchange will become available vith vhlch to purchase vital technical Imports from the Free World.
Aside from tbe need to Improve its foreign exchange position end other more obvious economic motives, the addition of modern vessels to the Soviet fleet, particularly those super-tankers under construction in Soviet shipyards, provides one more means of impressing underdeveloped nations with Soviet technological progress. In Its lncreaaingly heavy trade with Cuba, for example, the USSH has been very careful to employ se many as possible of Its most up-to-date tankers and freighters.Original document.