On the Record

Quotations & Testimonials

Chief Executive, Congressional, and Defense Leaders Support Sealift

Reliance on merchant shipping and concerns with its present condition have been critical factors in strategies of forward deployment crucial to America’s leading role in world affairs, as evidenced by these statements of key government and defense leaders.

“You’re going to bind the muscles of American commerce and that’s a simple reality because as small as our Merchant Marine may be today, it is absolutely essential. It’s in every war plan that I review, I guarantee because you’re going to be the fourth arm of defense. You’re going to sustain our allies and fuel our ships and ferry our warriors. It’s as simple as that and we’re going to need you as we see the storm clouds gather elsewhere as our diplomats are in a position where we have to buy time for them to solve problems. You can’t buy time as an armed force.”

Secretary of Defense James Mattis, June 2018

“We are fortunate to have a wide variety of mechanisms like the Maritime Security Program, Jones Act, Cargo Preference, Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement or VISA. These programs all provide operations to project power on behalf of the nation.”

Lt. Gen. John J. Broadmeadow, TRANSCOM Deputy Commander, October 2018

“From Desert Storm to Bosnia, from Afghanistan to Operation Iraqi Freedom, America’s Merchant Mariners continue to serve on the leading edge of our defense transportation system, carrying the combat equipment and supplies needed by our joint warfighters. To carry that logistics power to the fight, we have always relied on our Merchant Marine. And they have always answered the call. Despite the dangers and long separations from home, our U.S. Merchant Marine has sailed in harm’s way time and time again to make sure that American warfighters and our allies have had the supplies they need to overwhelm our adversaries.”

Rear Admiral Dee Mewbourne, Commander, Military Sealift Command, November 2018

“Here’s what happens if we repeal the Jones Act. All our coastwise trade will probably be done by a third nation, namely China-not just coatwise trade, but plying our inland river systems as well. If we’re looking at, hey, we can lower the cost of doing business, we can have a third nation do it on our behalf. The next thing that goes away are our maritime academies, You don’t need them because we have foreign mariners. We don’t know who they are, but they’re foreign mariners plying our waters, and our internal waters as well, to conduct maritime commerce, which is a $4.6 trillion enterprise in the United States. And then the next thing that goes is our shipyards, our shipyards and the technology that goes with the shipyards…This is not the time and place to go after the Jones Act.”

Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, Commandant, United States Coast Guard, May 2018

“When the United States goes to war, USTRANSCOM moves 90 percent of its cargo requirements with the strategic sealift fleet, which consists of government-owned ships augmented by the commercial U.S.-flagged fleet,..The ability to deploy a decisive force is foundational to the National Defense Strategy, as the size and lethality of the force is of little consequence if we are unable to project power in the pursuit of national objectives. Therefore, the readiness of the entire strategic sealift portfolio, both organic and commercial, remains the top priority for USTRANSCOM.”

General Darren W. McDew, Commander, United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), April 2018

“The Jones Act really is the linchpin. It is foundational to our merchant marine as it is today. It’s the ships; it’s the mariners, which are critical. And it’s the infrastructure that supports the shipbuilding and ship repair part of the industry and all of the supply chain that has impact on our government shipbuilding programs as well. The costs of all of those and the availability of shipbuilders are greatly impacted by that. So (the Jones Act) has far ranging impact.”

Admiral Mark H. Buzby, Administrator, U.S. Maritime Administration, March 2018

“The Jones Act from a war fighting perspective is all about the mariners and the ability to keep mariners trained and ready for war. The ships that are in the Jones Act are also useful, but the primary thing we get from the Jones Act are the mariners. And those mariners have been with us in every conflict that I can imagine and suffered great loss and still stay with us.”

General Darren W. McDew, Commander, U.S. Transportation Command, March, 2018

“MSP (Maritime Security Program) vessels have been key contributors to our Nation’s efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade, moving over 50 percent of all military cargo — over 26 million tons — to the Middle East. Since 2009, MSP carriers have moved over 90 percent of the ocean-borne cargo needed to support U.S. military operations and rebuilding programs in both countries.”

Administrator Paul Jaenichen, Maritime Administration, November 2015

“We need to pay attention to those who say the Jones Act is archaic. No, the Jones Act is absolutely essential for this nation’s mariners, for the shipbuilding industry and for all that are involved on the ocean. It is critical in every way.”

Rep. John Garamendi (CA-3), April, 2015

“The reduction in government-impelled cargoes due to the drawdown in Afghanistan and reductions in food aid … are driving vessel owners to reflag to non-U.S.-flag out of economic necessity … With recent vessel reductions, the mariner base is at the point where future reductions in U.S.-flag capacity puts our ability to fully activate, deploy and sustain forces at increased risk.”

General Paul Selva, Commander of the United States Transportation Command, March 2015

“The Jones Act helps to shore up our national security by providing reliable sealift in times of war. It ensures our ongoing viability as on ocean power by protecting American shipbuilding. As a result, the Jones Act provides solid, well-paying jobs for nearly half a million Americans from Virginia to Hawaii. In short, the Jones Act promotes national security and American job creation.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono, United States Senate, January 16, 2015

“The Jones Act keeps jobs, ships and a maritime Skill Base in the United States — and any effort to diminish this longstanding law is sure to negatively impact America’s maritime industry and its significant contributions to the national economy.”

Chairman Duncan Hunter, House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcomittee, January 15, 2015

“America’s open seas have long been a source of prosperity and strength, and since before our Nation’s founding, the men and women of the United States Merchant Marine have defended them. From securing Atlantic routes during the naval battles of the Revolutionary War to supplying our Armed Forces around the world in the 21st century…Today’s Merchant Marine upholds its generations-long role as our ‘fourth arm of defense.'”

President Barack Obama, May, 2014

“The United States continues to rely upon the commercial U.S.-flag ships, American shipyards and American Merchant Mariners for its military sealift strategy.”

Chairman Duncan Hunter, House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, April, 2014

“American shipyards, vessels and sailors provide for secure domestic commerce on our waterways and provide our Navy with a reserve component in times of war. During Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (2002 – 2008), U.S.-flag commercial vessels, including those drawn from the domestic trades, transported 57 percent of all military cargoes moved to Afghanistan and Iraq. As important, the American domestic fleet also provided fully half of the mariners used to crew U.S. government-owned sealift vessels activated from reserve status, which carried an additional 40 percent of the total cargoes delivered.”

Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-1), April, 2014

“Waterborne commerce and our nation’s maritime base are vital to America’s economy, security and quality of life. I’m proud to stand in support of the Jones Act, which is critical to our national security and a public policy success story.”

Rep. Steve Scalise (LA-1), April, 2014

“…Preserving a strong U.S.-flag commercial fleet is also an important component of our strategic sealift capability. Relying on the privately-owned, U.S.-flag commercial merchant marine fleet as a source for national defense sealift benefits the U.S. military in many ways; it provides global reach, access to valuable commercial inter-modal capacity, immediate guaranteed access, reduced U.S. military footprint and logistics tail, strategic capacity reserve, and access to U.S. merchant mariners.”

General William M. Fraser III, Commander, United States Transportation Command, February 2014

“The merchant marine helps to provide our military the mobility it requires, in both troops and equipment, to confront threats around the world. The Inouye and its sister ship will materially help add to the pool of highly trained merchant seamen. The same shipbuilding industrial base that constructs ships such as the Inouye is therefore essential to the maintenance and resilience of a robust United States Navy. The Jones Act and cargo preference were designed to meet these national security objectives, and the Trump administration is committed to improving both so that we once again have a robust United States flag fleet and shipbuilding industry.”

Peter Navarro, assistant to the president and director of the White House Office of Trade & Manufacturing Policy, June 2018

“In the military, over 90 percent of our DOD requirements travel by the sea. It’s quite important to us. We are a nation that relies on the maritime industry as a critical component of our country’s economy as well as our national security…It’s American ships and American seafarers who have always come through for us in times of peace, war or national emergency.”

Vice Admiral William Brown, Deputy Commander, United States Transportation Command, February, 2014

“If we want to grow our economy and remain a world power capable of defending ourselves and our allies, we must work together to strengthen and preserve our maritime industry.”

Chairman Duncan Hunter, House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, May 2013

“Whether equipping our service members in the theater of war or guiding our maritime industry in the calm of peace, the United States Merchant Marine has helped keep America strong for more than two centuries.”

President Barack Obama, May, 2013

“With emerging threats requiring the full attention of naval resources and the shifting of America’s defense strategy to the Pacific, the support provided through the Maritime Security Program is absolutely essential. In continuing the program, Congress must look ahead and consider policies that support the growth of the U.S. international flag fleet to alleviate pressure on limited naval resources As global trade will continue to grow, maritime policies must take center stage for the United States to remain an industry leader.”

Chairman Duncan Hunter, House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, The Washington Times, May 2013

“For 237 years, the men and women of the United States Merchant Marine have risen to meet our country’s call. They have strengthened our economy and our security in times of calm and conflict, connecting our service members to the supplies they need and transporting our exports into the global marketplace.”

President Barack Obama, May 2012

“Maintaining a national maritime industrial base and strong partnerships with the commercial maritime industry is critically important to the Department of Defense … A strong commercial American industry is particularly important during times of budget cuts.”

General William M. Fraser III, Commander, United States Transportation Command, May 2012

“In times of peace and war, the civilians serving in the United States Merchant Marine have helped keep our Nation safe and prosperous. We depend on these men and women serving on our ships and tugs, in our ports and shipyards, close to home or far at sea, to connect businesses, service members, and citizens around the world. On National Maritime Day, we honor their invaluable contributions to America’s economic strength and security. United States flag vessels and those who operate them continue to be an integral part of our military operations overseas. They support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as humanitarian aid missions and disaster relief efforts. Without the steadfast commitment of our mariners, our Nation would not be as prepared to deal with unforeseen events, conflicts, or crises. Their bravery and valor make our waterways safer and more efficient every day.”

President Barack Obama, May 2011

“Maintaining U.S. Flag sealift readiness is a top priority for the United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM)….USTRANSCOM’s partnership with the U.S. commercial sealift industry is a vital component to meeting the Nation’s strategic sealift requirements. To date, over 90 percent of all cargo to Afghanistan and Iraq has been moved by sea in U.S. Flag vessels….The movement of U.S. international food aid has been a major contributor to the cargo we have moved under the cargo preference law that our commercial sealift industry depends on. Any reductions will have to be offset in other ways to maintain current DOD sealift readiness.”

General Duncan J. McNabb, Commander, United States Transportation Command, May 2011

“The big thing here is we have not had to activate our military vessel to handle this. It’s been done by our commercial partners. And we worked closely with them early on…and stepped up superbly to both bringing this stuff out of Iraq and the stuff into Afghanistan. We have a commercial-first if we can use commercial. It’s the cheapest way to do it. It keeps our U.S.-flag fleet strong. It’s good for jobs. All of those things are positive and that’s what we do. They have done superbly. And I would say…what happens to the U.S.-flag fleet as we come down perhaps on some of the requirements that we’re depending on them now, and we are working closely with them to make sure that we maintain the robustness. They do depend absolutely on cargo preference. They absolutely do depend on our maritime security program, MSP. And these two programs are really valuable so that we keep a very, very strong U.S.-flag fleet, which is in the interest of the taxpayer and in the interest of the warfighter.”

General Duncan J. McNabb, Commander, United States Transportation Command, April 2011

“The primary purpose of the Maritime Security Program (MSP) is to provide the Department of Defense with assured access to commercial U.S.-flag ships and related intermodal systems, as well as a pool of trained U.S. mariners available to support national security requirements during war or national emergency. MSP vessel participants also deliver cargo supporting overseas deployments of U.S. forces, and to date 72 MSP ships have contributed to Operations ENDURING FREEDOM/IRAQI FREEDOM.”

David Matsuda, Maritime Administrator, July 2010

“Even before our Nation declared independence, our forebears recognized the importance of merchant ships and seafarers to our economic and national security. Since 1775, America’s maritime fleet has risen to the challenges before them and worked to meet our country’s needs in times of peace and war alike. Civilian mariners and their ships have played an important role in equipping our military forces at sea in national conflicts. During World War II, they executed the largest sealift the world has ever known, and thousands gave their lives to help convoys with desperately needed supplies reach our troops. Their service to our Nation continues today. Merchant Mariners support military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as humanitarian missions, including the delivery of supplies to Haiti following this year’s devastating earthquake. The United States Merchant Marine also shepherds the safe passage of American goods. They carry our exports to customers around the world and support the flow of domestic commerce on our maritime highways. They help strengthen our nation’s economy; bolster job creating businesses; and, along with the transportation industry, employ Americans on ships and tugs, and in ports and shipyards.”

President Barack Obama, May 2010

“Throughout our history, our armed services could not fight a war overseas without the merchant marine and the commercial ships they commanded filled with supplies. In World War II, when our troops and their cargo needed overseas transport, the U.S. Merchant Marine was there — crossing hostile waters and sacrificing thousands of lives to complete their mission. When critical evacuations were needed during the conflict with Korea, the U.S. Merchant Marine was there to rescue thousands of U.N. troops, refugees, cargo and vehicles. During the first Gulf War, when troops required four times the equipment as the Normandy invasion, the U.S. Merchant Marine was there to deliver life-saving tanks, armored vehicles and helicopters. Today, more than 85 percent of the supplies and equipment for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are carried aboard ships crewed by civilian mariners. General Dwight Eisenhower said it best: ‘When final victory is ours, there is no organization that will share its credit more deservedly than the merchant marine.”

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, November, 2009

“The Merchant Marine took up arms alongside the Continental Navy to help defeat the British Navy during the American Revolution. Since then, they have served bravely as the United States has faced threats ranging from war to piracy, and our seafaring fleet has proven insturmental in protecting our safety. In times of conflict and crisis, the Armed Forces rely on the Merchant Marine’s sealift capability to transport critical equipment and supplies. Time and again, mariners have demonstrated their willingness and ability to meet daunting challenges. Waterways have also enabled much of the commerce that has expanded America’s economy. Domestic and international commerce occurred along rivers and coasts even before our Nation’s birth. Great cities have sprouted near waterways, and maritime activity remains crucial to our economy today. The men and women of the U.S. Merchant Marine and the many other workers who have supported the maritime industry have made significant contributions to our leadership in the global marketplace, and to our security.”

President Barack Obama, May 2009

“America needs a strong and vibrant U.S.-Flag Merchant Marine…That is why you…can continue to count on me to support the Jones Act.”

Candidate Barack Obama, August, 2008