Fighting ship. When liner conferences are faced with severe competition from outsiders, the members of the conference may agree to use additional vessels or sailings at very low freight rates.
The conference ship may load simultaneously with the outside vessel. The conferences tried to protect the interests of their shipowner members, especially the revenue and market shares in a particular liner trade. The ships that were used to provide additional services were called “fighting ships” as a reference to the “fight” that conferences had to use to protect their members’ interests. The eventual result would be to drive the competitor from that trade and the freight rates are restored to their normal level. The loss in freight suffered by the conference member is shared by the other members.
In the U.S. Shipping Act 1984 the “fighting ship” is defined as:
“…a vessel used in a particular trade by an ocean common carrier or group of such carriers for the purpose of excluding, preventing or reducing competition by driving another ocean common carrier out of that trade.”
Section 10 of the Act prohibits carriers, on penalty of a large fine, from using a “fighting ship”.