U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao highlighted the importance of the U.S. Merchant Marine to the nation's economic success and security goals during a speech at a National Maritime Day ceremony hosted by the U.S. Maritime Administration at Department of Transportation Headquarters on May 22 in Washington, D.C.
Chao, a former deputy maritime administrator, said programs such as the Maritime Security Program and advancements at the maritime academies will be vital to the future of American security and stability.
"Throughout history, one thing remains constant; the absolutely critical role that the U.S.-flag merchant marine vessels play in our economic and national security," she said. "With advancements in technology, our mariners have to learn more than ever before, but they have been up to the challenge."
Chao also discussed the recent appropriation by Congress, which provides for the construction of a new multi-mission vessel, which can serve as a training ship and in sealift and humanitarian operations.
"The importance of these multi-mission capabilities came into close focus this past fall with hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria," Chao said. "The new multi-mission ships will allow the government to respond even more effectively in the future."
Chao thanked the U.S. Merchant Marine veterans in attendance for their service to the nation.
She also praised the U.S.-flag ship owners and operators participating in the Maritime Security Program.
She called the fleet of 60 militarily useful commercial ships a vital part of the nation's readiness in times of peace and war. The MSP is also a model that the current administration would like to emulate in other areas.
"The MSP is a great example of the public-private partnerships that are often talked about in this administration and its infrastructure proposal," Chao said.
In closing, she reaffirmed her support for the maritime industry and the merchant mariners who deliver goods around the world.
"You will not find a more supportive transportation secretary than the one you are looking at now. We look forward to working with all of you to make sure the voice of the maritime industry is heard," Chao said.