On National Maritime Day, the introduction of the bipartisan Energizing American Shipbuilding Act was announced during a press conference featuring the bill's sponsor in the House of Representatives, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), and its sponsor in the Senate, Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS).
Participating in the press conference were Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee; Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA); and Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ), as well as representatives from the shipbuilding industry, maritime labor, the maritime industry, and the iron and steel industry.
The legislation would support American shipbuilding by requiring a portion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and crude oil exports to be transported on U.S.-built, U.S.-crewed vessels.
"The domestic maritime industry supports hundreds of thousands of American jobs and is critical to our military readiness and national security," said Sen. Wicker. "This bill would strengthen our shipbuilding industry and would recognize the importance of having more American-flagged ships to transport our growing exports of oil and natural gas. China, India, and other nations are investing heavily in their shipbuilding capacity. The United States must keep up."
"Rebuilding America's shipbuilding and mariner base is an idea that unites Democrats, Republicans, metallurgical trades, the business community, labor, and our armed forces," said Rep. Garamendi. "These industries are not only vital to our economy - they're vital to our country's national security. Congress has neglected our maritime industry for too long, to the point that we're now several dozen merchant ships and 1,800 mariners short of what's needed to guarantee sufficient sealift support in times of crisis. This bill seeks to turn the ship around by taking advantage of America's energy export boom to bring back American shipbuilding, shipyard, and mariner jobs rather than continuing to outsource them to countries like China. I believe this bill is the start of a long-term reinvestment in the idea of America as a maritime, seafaring nation."
"Continued Congressional support of a healthy commercial maritime industry and U.S. Merchant Marine is essential to domestic security," said Rep. Rob Wittman. "Despite the usage of heavy lift aircraft, large oceangoing vessels remain crucial to military mobility in the 21st century. U.S. troops stationed in the Middle East and Afghanistan receive much of their supplies via U.S.-flag vessels because of their capacity and low cost. Bringing manufacturing and maritime jobs back home will not only help in the event of a disaster but will also show our domestic industrial base that we support them."
"We can have the best military equipment and trained warfighters in the world, but without the sealift capacity to get them to where they need to go, it doesn't do much good," said Rep. Hunter. "Today, the U.S. international fleet has fallen to about 80 ships from a high of more than 1,200 during World War II. Unless we reverse that trend, our nation will be forced to rely on foreign countries for force projection, a situation we cannot allow to happen. This legislation will strengthen America's shipbuilding base by ensuring we have the necessary industrial infrastructure and skilled labor pool of welders, fitters and sailors needed to rapidly mobilize in times of conflict. This bill will have strong national security implications and I applaud its introduction."
"American Maritime Officers stands in strong support of the Energizing American Shipbuilding Act," said the national president of AMO. "This legislation recognizes the critical roles of American shipyards and the U.S. Merchant Marine in national and homeland security and U.S. commerce. It sets a course for the invigoration and expansion of vital American infrastructure and expertise, and for the lasting creation of jobs for American mariners and shipbuilders - a base of professionals upon whom the U.S. military depends for our nation's strategic sealift capabilities."
"The Shipbuilders Council of America is proud to endorse the Energizing American Shipbuilding Act and would like to thank Congressman Garamendi and Senator Wicker for their efforts to ensure that U.S.-produced energy is exported on U.S.-built ships," said Matthew Paxton, president, Shipbuilders Council of America. "This legislation would invigorate the critical shipyard industrial base which is comprised of more than 400,000 highly skilled men and women across the U.S. This industrial base is not only essential to our economic security but also our homeland and national security. SCA applauds your commitment to our industry and this important piece of legislation."
"American mariners and the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base are a crucial part of our national security, delivering crucial armaments and supplies the warfighter needs on U.S.-built ships," said Navy League National President Alan Kaplan. "This bill ensures there will be enough American mariners and U.S.-built ships in the future to support the needs of our men and women in uniform."