Op-Ed in Honor of the Maritime Industry Congressional Sail-In
By Congressman John Garamendi
Ranking Member, Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee
February 28, 2017
The United States is the world’s commercial superpower. We are the largest importer and second largest exporter of merchandise. In 2015, American exports of merchandise abroad totaled over $1.5 trillion. Seaborne trade represents an enormous share of this activity: in 2016, over $475 billion worth of American exports were transported overseas by ship.
The average person might hear these numbers and assume that the United States and its industrial sector are deeply committed to maintaining fleets of reliable, modern American ships to carry cargo. Unfortunately, the maritime industry is a shadow of its former self. Just after the Second World War, the United States had 1,200 oceangoing ships. Even in the 1980s, we had several hundred ships flying under a U.S. flag. Today? That number is less than 80. Here’s another shock: in 1955, a quarter of American exports traveled on U.S.-flagged ships. Today, it is below 1 percent.. READ MORE (PDF)
Energizing American Maritime Act
Our U.S.-flag international fleet—commercial vessels documented under the laws of the U.S. and owned and operated by U.S. citizens—is in a state of precipitous decline. This important force has dwindled from 1,200 ships just after World War II, to less than 80 today, and only one percent of America’s ocean-going foreign trade travels on U.S.-flag vessels. This is a threat to our national security and a tremendous missed opportunity to put Americans to work. Please join us in reversing this troubling trend by cosponsoring H.R. 1240, the Energizing American Maritime Act.
With the lifting of crude oil export restrictions at the end of 2015 and increased domestic natural gas production, the U.S. has seen an increase in export of these two strategic energy assets. If we are to export crude oil and LNG, it should be on U.S.-flag vessels that employ American mariners. Our bill requires that 15% of exported crude oil and LNG travel on U.S.-flag vessels starting in 2020, with that number ramping up to 30% starting in 2025. It also requires that exporters provide training opportunities for U.S. mariners now to ensure they’re ready for these future job opportunities. READ MORE (PDF)