With numerous undeniable benefits and champions at every level of government, it may be hard to imagine why anyone would oppose the Maritime Security Program (MSP). Since the program’s inception more than two decades ago, every U.S. Defense Secretary, U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) ranking officer and Maritime Administrator has praised MSP as an essential component of the national defense.
Enacted in 1996 as part of the Maritime Security Act, the MSP ensures that the Department of Defense has access to a fleet of U.S.-crewed, U.S.-flagged, militarily useful vessels in times of war or national emergency. Experts have estimated that it would cost the government billions of dollars to replicate the assets it receives through the MSP and its related Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement – and that’s not including the intangible value of well-trained, reliable U.S.-citizen crews who deliver the goods to armed forces wherever and whenever needed.
Those who try to weaken MSP by under-funding the program must not fully understand just how vital that sealift capability is to America’s warfighting efforts, but the nation’s top brass certainly recognize the MSP fleet for what it is: a win-win situation for both the military and the U.S.-flag fleet.
Testifying earlier this year before the House Armed Services Committee’s Readiness Subcommittee, USTRANSCOM Commander Gen. Darren McDew made it clear his command depends on civilian mariners and American-flag ships to deliver the goods for the troops, stating, “The nation is still a maritime nation…. I can deliver an immediate force anywhere on the planet tonight. But to deliver a decisive force, it takes a fully fledged, competent maritime fleet. And that’s what the MSP provides us.”
During a recent christening of a U.S.-flag vessel entering into the MSP, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao voiced her support of the program, saying, “I know of no better public-private partnership (than MSP).”
Despite the current uncertainty surrounding a new federal fiscal year budget, the $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations bill for the final months of Fiscal Year 2017 contained a long-requested raise in funding level for MSP. It fully funded the MSP at $300 million, boosting it to the amount called for in the most recent National Defense Authorization Act. This funding level equates to a $5 million stipend per vessel in the 60-ship fleet, which again has been described by experts as a tiny fraction of the tens of billions of dollars it would take to replicate the strategic value of the MSP to the Department of Defense.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the MTD, its affiliates and its Port Maritime Councils continue to support the MSP and the good it does for the nation’s economy and security as an invaluable staple of the U.S. Merchant Marine.
Passed 2017 MTD Convention