The International Propeller Club of the United States on October 7 presented U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) with the annual Salute to Congress Award for his strong and consistent support of the U.S. Merchant Marine, the Jones Act and U.S. maritime industry.
During an award ceremony held online due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. Sullivan praised the maritime community and particularly the American seafarers who have continued to deliver goods and keep the economy moving despite the health crisis facing the nation and the entire world.
"Here's the fact: there's a lot of jobs that drive the economy of Alaska and America where you can't telework and you have to be working and you have to be unloading ships and moving freight and all of you do that, so I want to thank you so very much for that," said Sen. Sullivan, whose home state's economy is bolstered by the domestic maritime industry and supported by the Jones Act fleet. "So many Alaskans rely on the maritime transportation industry and workers as a lifeline."
Sen. Sullivan, who began his first term in 2015, serves on the Armed Services and the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committees, which both make decisions on issues vital to the U.S. Merchant Marine and maritime industry.
The senator from Alaska said it all starts with supporting the Jones Act and increasing awareness of the cabotage law's important roles among decision makers in Washington, D.C.
"I am very strong supporter of the Jones Act. I have sat with the President and told him the Jones Act supports his 'Buy American, Hire American' agenda," Sen. Sullivan said. "Look across the world and every other country has some type of version of the Jones Act and we need to make sure we continue to have this, both to increase our job opportunities in the maritime sector, but also critically that the Jones Act is essential for national security to sustain the maritime industrial base, construction and shipyard repairs."
Alaska ranks third in the nation in maritime jobs per capita and has the largest network of navigable waterways and coastline in the nation.
According to the findings of a report conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on behalf of Transportation Institute (TI), the Jones Act fuels a strong domestic maritime industry in Alaska and across the region. The industry employs more than 6,500 individuals, produces $1.98 billion for the local economy, and generates $469 million in worker income in Alaska. Regionally, the same study shows that the domestic maritime industry employs more than 37,590 individuals, generating over $2.5 billion in worker income, and produces nearly $10 billion for the Pacific Northwest regional economy.
Sen. Sullivan said he is pushing for Congress to include some type of relief for maritime employees who continued to provide reliable and dedicated service to the nation even as many others sheltered during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said his state's economy could have ground to a halt if not for the U.S. mariners and maritime workers who have continued to deliver during such challenging times.
"The industry had to keep working harder than ever and you're keeping the stores stocked and the shelves stocked," Sen. Sullivan said. "Alaskans were quite vulnerable to supply shocks, and yet during this pandemic, we never really had challenges in that way. That's because of so many of the great workers in the maritime industry keeping Alaska moving and keeping us supplied, and I know people have been working overtime."