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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation


Monday, May 22, 2023






Thank you, Tamekia, for that introduction and thank you for your leadership as Chief Counsel and now as the Acting Deputy Administrator. 

Thank you to Undersecretary Monje for joining us and for the DOT’s critical support of MARAD and the U.S. Merchant Marine.  

I also thank our Federal partners for joining us today.   

Chairman Maffei - thank you for your extraordinary leadership at the Federal Maritime Commission and for your tireless work strengthening our supply chains.   

General Jacqueline Van Ovost  - thank you for your inspiring leadership of the U.S. Transportation Command.  General Van Ovost and TRANSCOM set the requirements and actions that MARAD works to implement.   
You, and TRANSCOM Component Commands, including the Military Sealift Command, have been essential partners to MARAD and to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.  By providing sea time to the Merchant Marine Academy Midshipmen, you made it possible for the Class of 2023 to graduate on time, in just a few weeks.  We thank you so much for your support and I thank you for your visits to the Merchant Marine Academy. 

REAR ADMIRAL Wayne Arguin from, US Coast Guard – thank you to you, and to your Commandant Admiral Linda Fagan, and the entire Coast Guard, who have also been essential partners in our ongoing effort to advance culture change in the maritime industry.   

I thank our US Coast Guard color guard from the USCG Ceremonial Honor Guard and I thank the apprentices here from the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education in Piney Point, Maryland.   

Thank you to our National Anthem Singer, MARAD’s own Mr. Richard Wanerman, and to Chaplain Beaudet who joins us today from US Merchant Marine Academy, thank you Chaplain.    

I would also like to note the many other Maritime Day celebrations going on around the nation today and over the past few days – including USMMA’s Maritime Day campus wide events – honoring the 142 Midshipmen who perished in WWII, and the many events our Gateway Directors and other staff are participating in today.    

Again, Please join us in the DOT Media Center after the ceremony and cake cutting are complete for our panel about our Mariner Workforce, moderated by our own DR Shashi Kumar, Deputy Associate Administrator for Maritime Education and Training, and with panelists, Ms. Bethann Rooney, Director, Port of New York and New Jersey,  Ms. Megan Davidson, Chief People Officer, Crowley, and Dr. Anton Reece, President/CEO, Western Kentucky Community and Technical College.  

I also thank our distinguished guests from throughout the maritime industry.  Since just the beginning of this year, I have had the opportunity to participate in more than [80] events and engagements with stakeholders from across industry, including carriers, labor, the state maritime academies, port directors, and leaders from many other facets of the maritime world.   I see many of you here today, and I thank you all for our thoughtful discussions, and look forward to continuing to work together to support and advance this critical sector of our economy and our national defense.  

I also offer a special thank you to Mr. Robert J Fitzgerald, a World War II Mariner whom we will honor here today – Mr. Fitzgerald served from 1944 – 1945.  Mr. Fitzgerald could not be here today, but he is watching this observance from home! Thank you for your service Sir, and - I know I speak for everyone here when I say thank you to every mariner for your service.  I join everyone here in remembering those who perished in service to our nation—and whose sacrifice has helped preserve the freedoms and blessings of liberty and justice for all. 

Finally, I thank the many staff of MARAD and the Department of Transportation who have made today possible.  It has taken many hours of planning and preparation to organize today’s event and we are grateful for your work. Thank you to Ms. Perquita Scott, Ms. Mary Grice, Ms. Julianne Rhinebeck and the MARAD / OST Maritime Day Planning Committee. 

This is my second celebration of National Maritime Day as Maritime Administrator.  I was confirmed as Administrator and sworn in just shortly before National Maritime Day 2022. 

What I have seen over and over again during my first year at the helm—including through my many meetings and events with the full spectrum of maritime stakeholders—is how multi-faceted this industry is and yet how inter-connected these many facets are and how essential the entire enterprise is to our nation. 

Every entity represented on stage today is essential to making it possible for U.S.-flagged vessels to carry our cargoes and move our commerce.  And, of course, our military and our commercial operators rely on one another to ensure military cargoes are delivered as General Van Ovost and her team direct,  so we can project power around the globe.   

Our nation relies on the merchant marine—in ways that few understand—for the success of our economy and of our military—and lest we forget - for delivering our supply of critical PPE and other essential items during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, and,  so much more.   

Our U.S. Merchant Marine was essential to victory in World War II as was recognized last year by the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal to our WWII Veterans. —.  Merchant Mariners have served and died in defense of our nation since the founding of our Republic and we owe them an immeasurable debt. 

Here at the Maritime Administration, we are working every day to foster, promote, and develop the maritime industry of the United States to meet the nation’s economic and national security needs.   

And we are at the center of what are truly historic moments in our maritime history. 

We’re in the midst of a long overdue and critically needed recapitalization of the Ready Reserve Force and are implementing a major expansion of the commercial sealift fleet by bringing the ten-ship Tanker Security Program online.   

And just a few weeks ago, Military Sealift Command transferred its final surge LMSR, the CHARLES L. GILLILAND, to MARAD. 

As a result, MARAD is now the provider for all of the nation’s surge sealift capacity.  This is an awesome responsibility—and I note that today, right now, there are [8] RRF vessels active and underway, as well as 8 Turbo Activated vessels - sailing in support of TRANSCOM and providing support to military exercises and activities around the globe.   

Our efforts also extend to helping ensure there is an adequate workforce to work onboard these vessels in support of the warfighter – because our mariners, our people, are our greatest asset. . .  

As I testified earlier this month, we are short of the number of mariners needed in the event of a full mobilization exceeding 4-6 months, which is a very real scenario in a large-scale deployment.   

With support from all of you and from Congress, we are working a whole-of-government-and-stakeholder approach to recruit, train, and retain mariners.   

We are doing this by making critical investments to address the urgent and long-standing infrastructure and cultural challenges at the United States Merchant Marine Academy, which is the primary source of mariners with service obligation. 

We are adding ships to the U.S.-flag through Cable Security program and Tanker Security program that create new billets for our mariners in addition to the planned national security benefits.   MARAD is also continuing our work to support effective implementation of cargo preference requirements – so our ships have access to the cargoes the government impels.   

We are also building new training ships!  Currently, there are five new National Security Multi-mission Vessels at some stage of construction in Philly Shipyard.  These ships will provide state-of-the-art training platforms for the state maritime academies we support. 

The first NSMV—EMPIRE STATE, the seventh ship to bear the name —will be delivered soon!   

This is a fantastic achievement that has reinvigorated a shipyard, creating 1,400-plus maritime industrial base jobs in Philadelphia, while providing a model that can help improve government shipbuilding. 

We are also continuing our effort to ensure that maritime workplaces are workplaces where EVERY American drawn to service at sea is respected and can succeed on the basis of their skills and professionalism.    

We now have 16 operators enrolled in the EMBARC program who collectively operate over 160 vessels among which 63 are required to carry two cadets by law. I look forward to the day where all EMBARC eligible U.S. flag operators have enrolled all of their vessels in EMBARC—as we all know, the training our midshipmen obtain on your vessels can quite literally impacts our nation as a whole. 

  Thanks to Congress’ support, the FY 2023 NDAA requires commercially operated vessels, by law, to comply with these standards before they can train cadets—and certain vessels are mandated to include sexual assault prevention and response policies in their Safety Management Systems, which will improve safety for EVERY mariner. 

And finally, I note that over my first year here, we have issued 65 port related grants totaling more than $932 million under the Port Infrastructure Development Program, RAISE, INFRA, and the Marine Highways program.  These grants included hundreds of millions of dollars in funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as well as additional appropriations.   

This is the highest total of awards to ports made in a single year in the history of the Maritime Administration (MARAD) and this money will go to work across the nation speeding the movement of goods and strengthening the resiliency of our ports. 

I thank our entire maritime sector for all that you do for the nation—and I am honored to have this opportunity to work with all of you to strengthen this vital industry! 

I would now like to introduce our Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, Carlos Monje.  Under Secretary Monje has a long history of service in the Department of Transportation, and across multiple presidential administrations.  Under Secretary Monje is the number three official at USDOT, and he directly oversees the Department’s transportation policy offices, related finance programs under the Build America Bureau, international cooperation and facilitation activities—particularly on aviation, and DOT’s research and technology objectives. We at MARAD work closely with him and his team on the implementation of Port Infrastructure and other grant programs and related maritime policy initiatives.   

Please Welcome Under Secretary Monje. . . . . .