In late 2010, maritime workers won a big victory when large bipartisan majorities in Congress passed the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act of 2011, which extended the Maritime Security Program (MSP) into 2025.
However, as noted during last year’s MTD Executive Board Meeting, that was just a first step in preserving this critically important program. As the board noted, “What isn’t secure is the funding for the program. As in its original form back in 1996, the MSP requires Congress to authorize its money on a yearly basis.”
Towards the end of 2011, the maritime industry passed an important hurdle when Congress approved the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2012, which included full annual funding for the MSP.
And now, the annual funding process starts all over again. Given the important role that this program plays in the defense and economic development of the United States, we can’t afford to fail.
The MTD, its affiliates and its Port Maritime Councils call upon Congress and the Obama administration to continue financial support for the MSP. The program, which calls for an annual stipend for up to 60 militarily useful U.S.-flag vessels, plays an important role in enhancing America’s sealift capability as well as generating U.S. jobs and revenues.
No doubt during these contentious times, American forces will be called to action. They must know that American merchant mariners aboard U.S.-flag vessels are ready to sail wherever, whenever to deliver the goods.
Thanks to the MSP, U.S.-flag vessels and American civilian mariners have provided irreplaceable support in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan regions. The Department of Defense knows that it has reliable partners in transporting materiel needed by U.S. troops overseas and keeping them supplied.
Moreover, the MSP gives the military access to commercial tonnage and extensive intermodal infrastructure. Additionally, it helps maintain a viable pool of skilled mariners.
The MTD, its affiliates and its Port Maritime Councils will continue to push Congress and the White House for full funding of this important time-proven and action-proven program. The men and women of America’s armed forces deserve nothing less.