National Maritime Day: The Tipping Point


once again, my friends at Maritime Executive nail it right on the head

[B]National Maritime Day: The Tipping Point

By MarEx 2016-05-22

The Merchant Marines predate both the U.S. Coast Guard (1790) and the U.S. Navy (1797), but as the industry celebrates National Maritime Day in 2016, all is not well.

Participating in the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space exposition this month, Paul “Chip” Jaenichen, Maritime Administrator for the U.S. Maritime Administration, described the U.S. sealift fleet as being “at a tipping point” and the U.S. maritime presence as “at the lowest level in our history.”

Jaenichen said there are only 79 U.S.-flagged ships remaining in international trade, a 25 percent drop over the last three years. “We are moving less than two percent of our nearly 1.4 billion tons of U.S. imports and exports annually on U.S.-flagged ships. And most of our commodities coming to the United States are carried on foreign vessels with allegiance to other foreign countries.

“The Maritime Administration currently estimates that we have barely enough – and I emphasize, barely enough – qualified mariners to crew existing fleets of government sealift and also U.S.-flagged commercial sealift vessels, to provide both the surge and the sustainment of our armed forces if we go longer than four to six months.”

Jaenichen said that nearly 80 years of inattention and neglect dating back to 1936 has led the Maritime Administration to begin development of a new National Maritime Strategy. The strategy is currently in draft form.

From the U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Paul Thomas, assistant commandant for prevention policy, paid tribute to the Merchant Marine, saying: “The Coast Guard is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s ports and waterways – but we do not do that alone; we depend on mariners’ cooperation and support. Their hard work is vital to our economy and the strength of our nation.”

He also mentioned the El Faro tragedy: “Our dedication to ensuring mariner safety is unwavering – the Coast Guard is diligently investigating the El Faro incident in hopes that the findings will bring tangible outcomes that will allow us to minimize these incidents in the future. Today, tomorrow, and every day, I thank mariners for the work they do, I greatly appreciate their professionalism and dedication to our nation,” he said.

“The mariners’ role in driving the U.S. – and global – economies has far-reaching impacts. Each and every day, merchant mariners make unrivaled contributions to our nation and our nation’s economy. According to the American Association of Port Authorities, 23.1 million jobs are supported by U.S. coastal seaports. In addition, marine cargo transportation generated $4.6 trillion work of economic activity and contributed 26 percent to the U.S. gross domestic product in 2015. Those numbers speak for themselves,” said Thomas.

President’s Proclamation

[QUOTE]President Barack Obama released the following proclamation to commemorate National Maritime Day 2016:

Since America’s founding, proud mariners have selflessly dedicated themselves to protecting and advancing our interests – here at home and around the world. The patriots of the United States Merchant Marine have long served as our Nation’s “fourth arm of defense,” safeguarding the ideals that have guided our country for more than two centuries. They facilitate the transport and trade of American goods, and they put their lives on the line in times of war. On National Maritime Day, we honor our Merchant Mariners and celebrate their irreplaceable role in shaping our Nation’s narrative.

Whether in still or raging waters, Merchant Mariners are fundamental to guaranteeing the delivery of essential goods to far-reaching corners of our globe. These seafarers have bravely faced threats at home and abroad – including combatants and pirates, disease outbreaks and natural disasters – and they consistently heed the call to serve their fellow Americans. In World War II, their ships carried troops and much-needed support to the battlefield, thousands making the ultimate sacrifice. They were among the first to see battle, and many were among the last to return home to our shores.

Carrying forward a legacy that spans generations, the United States Merchant Marine is vital to our Nation’s economic security as well. Their transportation of vital cargo has impacts far beyond America’s borders, generating trillions of dollars of economic activity each year. And when our entrepreneurs decide to embark on new ventures across oceans, mariners stand by and protect their pursuit of the American dream through tireless work to cultivate safe and open waterways. On this day, and every day, let us express our sincere gratitude to these courageous men and women for all they do for our Nation, and let us reaffirm our commitment to support them as they continue to uphold their proud tradition of service.

The Congress, by a joint resolution approved May 20, 1933, has designated May 22 of each year as “National Maritime Day,” and has authorized and requested the President to issue annually a proclamation calling for its appropriate observance.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 22, 2016, as National Maritime Day. I call upon the people of the United States to mark this observance and to display the flag of the United States at their homes and in their communities. I also request that all ships sailing under the American flag dress ship on this day.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.


whoever the next President is, I pray they pay more attention to our US flagged fleet and do anything to cajole the Congress to pass a new Merchant Marine Act to rebuild the pitiful handful of ships we currently have. It will not require taxpayer money in the form of more subsidies to do this but to enact legislation to incentivize US companies to use US ships. The gutting of the PL480 and the US Ex/Im Bank cargo setasides need to be reinstated as well as to grant accelerated depreciation for companies who bring in foreign built ships to the US flag. Also, we need to get back to 100% use of US ships for any US DoD cargoes moved anywhere on the planet.


whoever the next President is, I pray they pay more attention to our US flagged fleet and do anything to cajole the Congress to pass a new Merchant Marine Act to rebuild the pitiful handful of ships we currently have.[/QUOTE]

Unfortunately for the US merchant marine, the only people who can fix the mess we are in are the same pack of parasites who put us in that mess.

Until we can eliminate the parasites who thrive on cash handed to them by those who grow fat selling off America piece by piece the U.S. will become the Brazil of North America. Until we completely eliminate the corruption and bribery that we call “campaign finance” we will continue to slide into social and economic oblivion.


So what happened in 1936 that began the neglect?


[QUOTE=CaliforniaOso;185099]So what happened in 1936 that began the neglect?[/QUOTE]

nothing really bad happened until Ronnie Raygun began the wholesale dismantling of the US fleet by gutting ODS and CDS subsidies although the foundation began to be cracked beginning in the 1960’s when using Flags of Convenience became common. It has been a plummet off a precipice ever since.



[QUOTE=CaliforniaOso;185099]So what happened in 1936 that began the neglect?[/QUOTE]

An Act of Congress that was intended to ensure “… that the United States shall have a merchant marine…to provide shipping service essential for maintaining the flow of such domestic and foreign waterborne commerce at all times, capable of serving as a naval and military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency, owned and operated under the United States flag…, composed of the best-equipped, safest, and most suitable types of vessels…, and supplemented by efficient facilities for shipbuilding and ship repair.”

Google this for an interesting historical overview which includes the President’s letter to Congress in 1935: [I]A Study of American Merchant Marine Legislation - Duke Law …by CG Morse - ‎1960[/I] in which he states:

"I present to the Congress the question of whether or not the United States should have an adequate merchant marine. To me there are three reasons for answering this question in the affirmative.

The first is that in time of peace subsidies granted by other nations, shipping combines, and other restrictive, or rebating methods may well be used to the detriment of American shippers. The maintenance of fair competition alone calls for American flagships of sufficient tonnage to carry a reasonable portion of our foreign commerce.

(The last figure I can find is that less than 2 percent of foreign trade now moves on American flag ships … “reasonable”?)

Second, in the event of a major war in which the United States is not involved, our commerce, in the absence of an adequate American merchant marine, might find itself seriously crippled because of its inability to secure bottoms for neutral peaceful foreign trade.

Third, in the event of a war in which the United States itself might be engaged, American flagships are obviously needed not only for naval auxiliaries, but also for the maintenance of reasonable and necessary commercial intercourse with other nations. We should remember lessons learned in the last war.

What happened since 1936 is that American industry has learned that war is extremely profitable and it only takes a tiny portion of those profits to employ Congress to institutionalize the transfer of public funds to personal bank accounts. The intent of the Act of 1936 was to protect American jobs and commerce. That Act is now the last remaining barrier to the total sell-off of America.

I think it is amusing in a perverted sense that the “free trade” crowd and those of the same traitorous ilk as McCain never even acknowledge the existence of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958. The question the American public needs to ask McCain and his gang is why they consider an American merchant marine is such a threat to America. Ask McCain why he and his patrons think 2 percent of American trade is unreasonable.


Thank you. My father always lectured to me as a boy the value
of the US Merchant Marine. Yes it is true. In times of peace the
subsidies of other nations undermine our maritime strength. Yes it
is true that politicians, McCain, seem to be oblivious to the letter
and spirit of law and legislation. This is so true in many ways.
We have rights as sailors guaranteed by law that are not enforced now.


@c.captain, please tell me the Dauntless will be underway today with fire pump on and nozzles pointed skyward. I look forward to your annual Maritime Day editorial.


I got a spiffy certificate from the NMC last week with some stickers for my book.


Not the Dauntless and not the right place, but a tribute to Maritime Day 2017:


but did you actually read that spiffy piece if paper because contained therein is the biggest load of donkey dung this side of HeeHaw!

In today’s global economy, we rely on Merchant Mariners to maintain our nation’s economic prosperity

the problem with that load is that our great and wealthy nation is not relying on American Merchant Mariners to carry JACK SHIT of our global trade!


the answer is why waste the fuel on such a day so utterly meaningless? if our Nation gave two tiny shits then perhaps but as it stands United States Maritime Day is hardly the cause for any celebration whatsoever…rather is should be a day of lamentations, sorrow filled wails and drinking nasty rotgut whiskey until unconscious.

just to remind all here, this is the preamble to the Merchant Marine Act of 1936 which today remains law of the United States of America

if only we could go to Federal Court to file suit against the US Federal Government for violating the law?

in my dreams only


I am not pleased to learn that the lazy useless and incompetent bastards at NMC are spending their time sending out stupid and unnecessary certificates instead of processing my application which they have been sitting on for 7 months.

The commander at NMC should be court marshaled.


7 months? what’s the application for? That has to be a record for no matter what it is…