Sending Office: Honorable John Garamendi
Deadline: COB Friday, April 20
Please join us in sending a letter to the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Defense urging their assistance in ensuring full enforcement of our existing “Ship American” laws for government-impelled cargo. These laws, which require that a percentage
of cargo bought with taxpayer dollars is shipped on U.S.-flag vessels to help meet our strategic goal of maintaining a U.S. Merchant Marine, often go unenforced, which means taxpayer financing of foreign maritime interests and less work for U.S. mariners.
Most alarming, it also means a glaring national security inadequacy that must be addressed immediately. The Department of Defense depends on the Merchant Marine for over 95% of our national defense sealift needs in times of war or national emergency, yet
recent testimony before the House Armed Services Committee and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee reveal a shortfall of approximately 2,000 American merchant mariners needed to crew the vessels supporting our troops deployed overseas. This troubling news
is the result of a decades-long decline in our U.S.-flag fleet, in part exacerbated by inadequate cargo preference enforcement.
Thank you for your attention to reversing the serious decline in our U.S.-flag fleet and mariner workforce to ensure they can meet the needs of the Department of Defense. To sign the letter, please contact Reed Linsk in Congressman Hunter’s office (firstname.lastname@example.org)
or Emily Burns in Congressman Garamendi’s office (email@example.com).
David P. Joyce
Cedric L. Richmond
The Honorable Elaine Chao, Secretary The Honorable Jim Mattis, Secretary
United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Defense
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE 1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20590 Washington, DC 20301
Dear Secretary Chao and Secretary Mattis:
Recently, representatives from the Department of Transportation and the Department of Defense have testified to the dangerous decline in our nation’s U.S.-flag commercial sealift capability and a shortfall of approximately 2,000 American merchant mariners
needed to crew the vessels supporting our troops deployed overseas. We are greatly alarmed that this situation has developed and are writing to urge the Administration to act expeditiously and forcefully to bolster the U.S.-flag merchant marine through enforcement
of our existing “Ship American” laws for government-impelled cargo.
The United States has always relied on the U.S.-flag merchant marine and its American merchant mariners to protect and enhance our economic security and national defense. American flag vessels and their crews have always responded quickly and effectively
to the call of duty, never failing to provide the commercial sealift sustainment capability and manpower needed by the Department of Defense to support America’s objectives around the world. The U.S. Transportation Command was deliberate in their assessment
that the “merchant marine is inextricably linked to the Department of Defense’s ability to project power.” Without this capability under our own flag, and without a sufficient number of American mariners, we will be forced to turn over America’s security interests
and the well-being of our overseas troops to foreign flag, foreign crewed vessels owned and operated by those who may not choose to support us.
The Maritime Administration has indicated in testimony that our nation’s ability to fully activate, deploy and sustain our military forces is between “medium to high risk.” It is, therefore, critically important that the Administration takes immediate action
in directing its efforts to support policies and programs that serve to enhance the U.S.-flag merchant marine, including existing cargo preference requirements. These requirements stipulate that a percentage of U.S. government-impelled cargoes be transported
on privately-owned U.S.-flag commercial vessels. Government-impelled cargoes are not limited to those shipped directly by a Department or Agency but include government-financed projects and government contracts issued to private companies.
Full enforcement of these requirements can be an important factor in achieving the U.S.-flag merchant fleet necessary to meet our national goals. All too often, Federal agencies have failed to comply with applicable U.S.-flag shipping requirements, denying
American vessels the taxpayer-financed cargoes they’re intended and eliminating important mariner jobs in the process. Failure to comply with cargo preference also means that American taxpayer dollars are being used to finance the cost of foreign shipping
services. We ask that you encourage the President to affirm the Administration’s support for Ship American and to direct all Executive Branch departments and agencies to fully comply with the spirit and the letter of existing U.S.-flag cargo preference shipping
requirements. It should also be affirmed that if questions arise as to the applicability of cargo preference shipping requirements to a Federal program, the U.S. Maritime Administration is the final arbiter.
Thank you for your attention to reversing the serious decline in our U.S.-flag fleet and mariner workforce to ensure they can meet the needs of the Department of Defense. Concerted and immediate action is required, and we stand ready to work with you to
achieve these objectives.
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0