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Even before the day America proclaimed its independence, the domestic shipbuilding industry has generated important national economic and security benefits.

Leading analysts and defense figures consistently speak about the irreplaceable role that U.S. shipyards and their workers play in enhancing America’s defense capability.  From California to Maine, from the Great Lakes down to the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. shipyards generate decent employment opportunities with benefits, not to mention the opportunity for advanced training.  These are not just jobs, they are skilled jobs with benefits and futures that help build and sustain communities.

Throughout America’s history, the industry has proven its resiliency, adapting from wooden ships with sails to the rise of the steam engine in the 19th century through its revitalization prior to and during World War II to the present push for double-hull tankers and barges. Time and time again, the industry has rebounded and led the world.

In the 1950s, American shipbuilders produced the first nuclear powered commercial vessel. Over the past two decades, domestic shipbuilding succeeded through joint government-public actions like the one that led to the renaissance of the historic Philadelphia Shipyard, not to mention innovative programs like the Title XI Shipbuilding Loan Guarantee, which has been the product of bipartisan efforts to revive this critically important segment of America’s manufacturing base.

Given the difficult times in which America finds itself, preserving skilled jobs in this manufacturing sector is more important than ever.

In addition to maintaining an adequately-sized Navy and Coast Guard, something for which the MTD and leading defense experts have called, Congress and the White House need to fund the Title XI Program at suitable levels. As studies have shown, every dollar invested in the program generated $20 worth of economic activity.

The MTD, its affiliates and its Port Maritime Councils renew our call to maintain and sustain America’s shipbuilding capability. The thousands upon thousands of men and women who work in these yards are among the best craftsmen in the world. These jobs build and grow communities, something that cannot be overlooked in these tough economic times. Finally, we offer our unconditional support to our affiliates in their efforts to ensure that the shipyards with whom they have contracts survive and prosper.