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Why does the United States need a national maritime policy?

We need look no further than to the president of the MTD, Michael Sacco: “Since its founding, the United States has been and remains a maritime nation. The maritime industry directly affects all 50 states as well as the territories. The industry has provided American workers with good, steady, dependable jobs at sea and ashore. It is vital to the nation’s economic and defense interests.”

For years, the MTD and its allies in the industry have been demanding a national policy. The industry is far too important to be allowed to drift without a rudder, as has been the case for too long.

Let’s look at the facts that were spelled out in the 2014 Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act, which specifically called for enactment of a national maritime policy:

  • The U.S. maritime industry employs more than 260,000 Americans, providing nearly $29 billion in annual wages, and there are more than 40,000 commercial vessels currently flying the American flag.
  • The vast majority of these vessels are engaged in domestic commerce, moving more than 100 million passengers and $400 billion worth of goods between ports in the United States on an annual basis.
  • Each year, the U.S. maritime industry accounts for more than $100 billion in economic output.
  • However, over the last 35 years, the number of U.S.-flag vessels sailing in international trade has fallen from 850 to well under 100. During this same period, the U.S. has lost more than 300 shipyards and thousands of American mariner jobs.

The U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd) has taken the lead in crafting a national policy. It has held numerous meetings to gather information from industry officials, including several MTD affiliates.

MarAd has a new man at its helm. Rear Admiral (retired) Mark Buzby has a thorough understanding of our industry. He is a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. He commanded the Military Sealift Command, which oversees the Navy’s movement of personnel and materiel. We look forward to working with him to plot a true course for the nation’s maritime future.

MarAd comes under the supervision of the U.S. Transportation Department, which is led by another person with a strong maritime pedigree. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao comes from a maritime family. She has served as the chair of the Federal Maritime Commission and the deputy administrator for MarAd. Since becoming secretary, she has met with numerous maritime union and industry officials to get a stronger grasp of what is happening.

As the 2014 legislation stated, “Preserving and strengthening our nation’s maritime industry is important to our economy and vital to national security.”

With a base that includes the Jones Act, cargo preference and the Maritime Security Program, the time for action is now before the U.S.-flag is allowed to sail into the sunset on the high seas.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the MTD, its affiliates and its Port Maritime Councils renew their efforts to bring about a National Maritime Policy that strengthens U.S.-flag shipping, benefits the nation’s economy and defense, and provides good jobs for well-trained American mariners.

Passed 2017 MTD Convention