New Bill to Strengthen U.S.-flag Merchant Marine and Shipbuilding Introduced
By JAMES PETERSON, Editorial Assistant
WASHINGTON – Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., along with five other members of the House and Senate, presented the Energizing American Shipbuilding Act on May 22 at a press conference on Capitol Hill. The bill is a bipartisan, bicameral effort to strengthen the U.S.-flag Merchant Marine and American shipbuilding, creating thousands of maritime and manufacturing jobs by 2040, as well as provide the U.S. with stronger national security.
Supporters of the Energizing American Shipbuilding Act said the bill could resolve the biggest concerns facing the Merchant Marine and the nation’s shipbuilding industry today, including creating new jobs and providing U.S. mariners with experience and training.
Garamendi, who introduced the act, explained the bill requires a small percentage of oceangoing exports be transported on U.S.-flagged vessels, with that percentage increasing to 15 percent by 2040. In addition, these vessels must be built and documented in the U.S.
“This would result in the domestic construction of over 50 vessels,” Garamendi said, “which would expand and enhance our industrial base, create thousands of high-paid and manufacturing jobs and develop the shipbuilding capabilities vital for America’s national security. Our maritime industry deserves the robust support from Congress. Because of the hard-working people in this room, I believe we are on the road to making this happen.”
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a co-lead on the act, enforced to all in attendance how critical the bill will be in strengthening U.S. national security.
“When the flag goes up and a crisis occurs, we need American ships to depend on,” Wicker said. “And we will have more of them if this bill comes to fruition. I’m quite certain it will.”
Among the speakers were leaders from the shipbuilding industry, the Maritime Trades Department and the Navy League of the United States. Each expressed their gratitude and support for the bill in hopes it will improve the state of the maritime industry and U.S. -flag Merchant Marine.
“We know that America’s ability to conduct large-scale sealift operations is significantly challenged right now due to a mariner shortage,” Alan Kaplan, national president of the Navy League, said. “We must be prepared for any trial our nation may face.”
The bill will now go through the congressional process to become law.