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Our Nation’s merchant mariners embody the highest aspirations of our democracy, always answering our country’s call with commitment and courage. Today, we honor their service and sacrifice. Together, we recommit to meeting our sacred obligation to care for them and their families.

Unbreaking and unbending in their devotion to duty, our merchant mariners have stood for our Nation’s freedom and liberty throughout history – from delivering critical goods and troops to the battlefields of World War II to responding to devastating natural disasters around the world and shipping the goods and military cargo that keep our Nation safe and prosperous. Today, our merchant mariners are continuing this legacy of service, delivering humanitarian aid to people in need and transporting military equipment around the world. At the same time, merchant mariners are engines of our economy. They facilitate international trade and strengthen our supply chains by transporting billions of dollars of goods across oceans, seas, and waterways to the hands of American businesses and consumers.

Our merchant mariners have always met the moment – and my Administration will always have their backs. That is why we are ensuring that ships traveling between United States ports are American-built, American-owned, and American-crewed by enforcing the Jones Act. This will not only support American shipbuilding but will also support good union jobs. Meanwhile, we have made historic investments in our Nation’s infrastructure, including rebuilding our ports so that they are safer, cleaner, and easier and more affordable to move through.

We also recognize that our merchant mariners are strongest when they reflect the full diversity of our Nation. My Budget proposes $191 million for the United States Merchant Marine Academy to educate and train the next generation of seagoing officers and maritime leaders. Additionally, my Administration established Every Mariner Builds A Respectful Culture Standards to prevent sexual assault and harassment and to support survivors.

Today, as we honor all that merchant mariners have done for our Nation, we also recognize the mariners who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our Nation. We owe these fallen heroes a debt of gratitude we can never fully repay. But our Nation will never forget their legacy and that of every mariner who has dared all, risked all, and given all for our Nation.

The Congress, by a joint resolution approved May 20, 1933, has designated May 22 of each year as “National Maritime Day” to commemorate the first transoceanic voyage by a steamship in 1819 by the S.S. Savannah. By this resolution, the Congress has authorized and requested the President to issue annually a proclamation calling for its appropriate observance. I also request that all ships sailing under the American flag dress ship on that day.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 22, 2024, as National Maritime Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day and to celebrate the United States Merchant Marine and maritime industry with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-eighth.

JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.

Members of American Maritime Officers are encouraged to attend any of the following National Maritime Day celebrations. AMO National Executive Board members and union representatives will be attending several of the events listed. Links below will provide more information on each event.

American Maritime Officers
STAR Center
Dania Beach, Fla.
May 22, 2024, 11:30 a.m.

United States Maritime Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation West Atrium
Washington D.C.
May 22, 2024
10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
More info

Norfolk International Propeller Club
The Battleship Wisconsin
1 Waterside Drive, Norfolk, Va.
May 22, 2024
5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
More info

City of San Pedro, California
American Merchant Marine Veterans Memorial & Walls of Honor
Harbor Boulevard at the foot of 6th Street, San Pedro, Calif.
May 22, 2024
Starting at 11 a.m.
More info

Baltimore Port Alliance
Port of Baltimore on Liberty Ship John W. Brown and Nuclear Ship Savannah
Pier 13 Canton Marine Terminal, 4601 Newgate Ave., Baltimore, Md.
May 19, 2024
Ceremony begins at 11:30 a.m.
More info

The following article was posted April 24 by U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM). Earlier this month, USCENTCOM reported the USS Mason and USCENTCOM forces successfully destroyed one inbound anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) at approximately 3 a.m. (Sanaa time) on April 9. USCENTCOM reported that ASBM was likely targeting the MV Yorktown, which was being escorted by USS Laboon and USS Mason.

TAMPA, Fla. – At 11:51 a.m. (Sanaa time) on April 24, a coalition vessel successfully engaged one anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) launched from Iranian-backed Houthi terrorist-controlled areas in Yemen over the Gulf of Aden. The ASBM was likely targeting the MV Yorktown, a U.S.-flagged, owned, and operated vessel with 18 U.S. and four Greek crew members. There were no injuries or damage reported by U.S., coalition, or commercial ships.

Separately, between 12:07 p.m. and 1:26 p.m., U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) successfully engaged and destroyed four airborne unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) over Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

It was determined that the ASBM and UAVs presented an imminent threat to U.S., coalition, and merchant vessels in the region. These actions are taken to protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S., coalition, and merchant vessels.

By Christian Spain
Vice President, Government Relations

Please use this link for a complete PDF of this article including marked and annotated examples of the CG-719B form.

AMO’s Government Relations office in Washington, D.C. may be able to assist members who are having issues with the National Maritime Center when renewing or upgrading a Merchant Mariner Credential, adding certifications and endorsements, or renewing a Medical Certificate. However, in the first quarter of 2024, the number of members contacting Alaina Basciano and I for assistance has significantly increased. The majority of these issues are the result of renewal applications not being submitted in a timely manner and/or neglecting to properly fill out the application.

Applications for MMC renewal should be submitted as you enter the eight-month window prior to expiration, even if you are on a ship. Due to relief delays, waiting until you get home to submit your application is not advisable. Medical Certificate renewals should be submitted six to eight months prior to expiration, depending on the length of your rotation.

MMC renewals are accepted up to eight months prior to their expiration date. License creep for renewal applications is no longer an issue due to the ability to post-date the credential.  Renewals submitted prior to the expiration of a current MMC will result in a renewed MMC dated one day after the expiration of the current MMC unless early issuance is requested, as may be the case when upgrading/renewing or adding an endorsement. This option can be selected on the bottom of Page 3 on the CG-719B form under Section II beginning: “FOR RENEWAL TRANSACTIONS ONLY …”

As a reminder, all engineering and deck officers who require STCW certification on their Merchant Mariner Credential in order to sail are required to complete U.S. Coast Guard approved Basic Training and Advanced Firefighting Revalidation courses, as well as 360 days of sea service, and to include proof of course completion in their application package when submitting documents to the Coast Guard for MMC renewal, or for an upgrade including a renewal. This came into effect in January 2017 as laid out in STCW 2010.

All Coast Guard Regional Exam Centers accept CG-719B applications via email. The National Maritime Center only accepts Medical Certificate applications (CG-719K) electronically . Submitting documents through the Coast Guard’s established electronic system is the best way to ensure that your interactions with any REC and the NMC can be tracked and documented.

PLEASE NOTE: The Coast Guard has recently enabled an automated response from the MEDAIP email address and you may be notified your MEDICAL application has been received. You will be notified again when it is under review. As this can take some time, it is advised that you follow the guidelines above and SUBMIT EARLY.

The Coast Guard’s guidance on submitting MMC applications (CG-719B) to RECs only, and for submitting Medical Certificate applications (CG-719K) directly to NMC, is available online.

It is highly advised you ensure the correct boxes are checked in Section II of your CG-719B form prior to submission. Checking too many options is just as bad as not checking enough. Incorrectly filling out this section of the form is the number one issue we are seeing with members and will inevitably cause delays in your application and possible errors in your new MMC. Please reach out to Captain Kathleen Friel or Captain Bob Silva if you have ANY questions regarding how you should complete this form. Please take two minutes to look at the renderings of the CG-719B form here to help avoid issuance of a renewed MMC with errors.

DO NOT SUBMIT MULTIPLE APPLICATIONS IF YOU NOTICE AN ERROR OR ARE EXPERIENCING DELAYS.

It is also advised you include scans of your current MMC and TWIC as PDF files.

Please ensure you plan ahead. The Basic Training and Advanced Firefighting Revalidation courses required for STCW renewal can be taken any time during the five years prior to your MMC renewal. The STAR Center course schedule for AMO members is available on the AMO website and on the STAR Center website.

If you have any questions, please contact me or call me at 202-658-8887.

Members of American Maritime Officers working aboard the MT Badlands Trader in April, here in the Far East, included Port Captain Chris Anderson, Second Mate John Dufrene Jr., Chief Mate Wayne Archer, Captain Thua Pham, Chief Engineer Chris Gill, First Assistant Engineer Michael Raymond, Second A.E. Mahlon Glidden and Third A.E. Caleb Linder. The Badlands Trader, which is operated under MSC charter by USMMI, conducted a CONSOL operation with the USS Yukon at sea.

Photos courtesy of Captain Thua Pham

More than 120 maritime labor and industry leaders – including members of the USA Maritime coalition, union officials, company executives, and association leaders and representatives – participated in the 12th Maritime Industry Congressional Sail-In on April 10. The Sail-In, which also included representatives from the American Maritime Partnership and the domestic shipping industry, the State Maritime Academies, the USMMA Alumni Foundation, and related maritime associations and organizations, provided the participants with the opportunity to meet with more than 125 congressional offices to discuss the importance of the U.S.-flag Merchant Marine to our nation’s economic, military and homeland security.

As the only event of its kind that brings together a unified maritime industry, the participants, speaking with one voice, emphasized the importance to our nation of having the U.S.-flag shipping industry and the cadre of American merchant mariners needed to counter China’s control over the ocean shipping supply chain, and to provide the commercial sealift readiness capability needed by the Department of Defense to support American troops deployed overseas.

Attending the Sail-In were American Maritime Officers National President Captain Willie Barrere; AMO National Vice President, Government Relations, Christian Spain; AMO National Assistant Vice President, Government Relations, Alaina Basciano; and American Maritime Officers Service Legislative Consultant Brenda Otterson.

During the event, USA Maritime presented the Maritime Leadership Award to Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA) in recognition of his support for the U.S.-flag fleet operating in U.S. domestic and international trades. As noted by USA Maritime Chair Chris Johnsen when presenting the award to Congressman Wittman, “the U.S.-flag deep sea fleet and its cadre of American mariners have no better friend and stronger supporter than Congressman Rob Wittman.”

On Wednesday, April 10, the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF) recognized the significant contributions Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow has made throughout her congressional career protecting the Great Navigation System and supporting American jobs with investment in U.S.-flagged Great Lakes shipping.

Senator Stabenow, who co-chairs the bipartisan Senate Great Lakes Task Force, has been the driving force behind the protection of our largest freshwater resource and the maritime highway that supports U.S. jobs through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) which was first authored in 2010 and has since received $3.8 billion in funding.

The GLRI has been a major success with funds provided for over 6,800 projects throughout the region protecting the Great Lakes and its waterways against its greatest threats, and addressing problems that impact public health and safety.

“Our U.S. sailors, port, shipyard, and manufacturing employees depend on the Great Lakes and its connecting waterways for the raw material supply chain to support good paying jobs and their families live here too. Senator Stabenow’s work for over a decade has proved to be a game changer ensuring our fresh waters are restored and protected for generations to come,” stated Jim Weakley, Vice President of the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force and President of the Lake Carriers Association.

Senator Stabenow has been a critical champion for arguably the most important North American infrastructure project in several years with the construction of a large new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers navigational lock in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Nearly all domestically produced high strength steel is made with iron ore that transits the current large lock, the Poe, built in 1969. A study conducted by the Department of Homeland Security concluded that a six-month unscheduled outage of the Poe Lock would result in 11 million jobs lost and a $1.1 trillion economic impact. Recognizing the vital national economic importance and the reality that it is an aging single point of failure for North American manufacturing, Senator Stabenow tirelessly advocated for funding authorization and continued efficient funding of the estimated $3.2 billion mega project securing large annual appropriations to keep the project on track.

The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force is grateful for Senator Stabenow’s service to our county, the Great Lakes Region, and the State of Michigan. Senator Stabenow is truly a champion for the Great Lakes watershed and the healthy marine transportation system it supports.

The presentation of the award was made at Senator Stabenow’s Washington D.C. office surrounded by many thankful Great Lakes Maritime Task Force members.

About Great Lakes Maritime Task Force

The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, with nearly 80 members, is the largest coalition to speak for the Great Lakes Navigation System. Advocating for domestic and international shipping, its members represent labor and management from U.S.-flag vessel operators, shipboard and longshore unions, port authorities, cargo shippers, terminal operators, shipyards, and other Great Lakes interests. The Great Lakes commercial maritime industry supports more than 147,000 American jobs in eight Great Lakes states and generates more than $36 billion in economic activity.

The following letter signed by 123 labor, shipping, agricultural, port, fishing and humanitarian organizations, companies and interest groups – including American Maritime Officers and American Maritime Officers Service – was sent to the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Congressman Andy Harris (R-MD), and Subcommittee Ranking Member, Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-GA), and to the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Subcommittee Ranking Member, Senator John Hoeven (R-ND). In addition to their immense humanitarian value, food-aid programs utilizing commodities grown in America and transported by U.S. merchant vessels are vital components of strategic sealift and U.S. national security. Under U.S. cargo preference requirements, at least 50 percent of U.S. government impelled food-aid shipments must be carried by U.S.-flagged vessels. While providing vital food aid to nations in need around the world, these cargoes help keep U.S.-flagged commercial vessels in service and U.S. merchant mariners, who are needed to crew surge and reserve military sealift vessels in times of war and crisis, employed and current on their skills and certifications.

Each year our nation’s international food aid programs, including P.L. 480 Title II Food for Peace, Food for Progress, and McGovern-Dole International Food for Education within the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, help reach millions of vulnerable people around the world. These programs have enjoyed significant bipartisan support for 70 years. We, the undersigned organizations, respectfully request Congress continue to fully support these programs and that the fiscal year 2025 agriculture appropriations funding for these critical accounts be increased to at least $2.4 billion.

Global food assistance is required as drought, continuing conflict, inflationary costs, and other crises persist around the world. Chronic and acute hunger have continued to rise and the U.N. World Food Programme warns that the number of people facing crisis levels of food insecurity has risen to 333 million as a result of lingering effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing conflict (including the war in Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza) and climate-related extreme events. According to the Mid-Year Update of the Global Report on Food Crises, there are currently at least 238 million acutely food insecure people around the world, which is a 10% increase from the 2022 figure. With hunger on the rise, now is the time for America to continue its global leadership role by showing full support for U.S. international food assistance programs.

International food aid programs not only benefit the recipients, but also U.S. economic and national security interests. Food aid, in all its forms, is made available through these programs usually bearing the U.S. flag and/or marked “from the American people.” By furthering stability in fragile countries and sparking hope in countless people who are struggling to survive, U.S. strategic interests are protected and expanded. Ultimately, these kinds of foreign assistance programs help create a firm foundation for vulnerable communities to grow and prosper, which is why many former food aid recipient countries are now among the most important U.S. trading partners.

The use of American grown commodities as food aid has been a cornerstone of U.S. foreign assistance programs for decades and U.S. food aid has continually evolved and adapted to meet changing needs. Using a combination of U.S. commodities, cash, vouchers, and locally purchased food, the U.S. has worked to expedite hunger relief, increase resilience, and save countless lives. Through a joint public-private partnership, American farmers, millers, mariners, port workers, private voluntary organizations (PVOs), and the U.S. government have developed the strongest frontline response to urgent global food insecurity. Food aid is a tangible source of hope to those in need, and American stakeholders take great pride in their support for the world’s most vulnerable people through these programs.

While our organizations at times have policy differences, we stand united in our belief that U.S. food aid programs are among the world’s most critical foreign assistance programs, save countless lives, bolster our nation’s global security, and help millions in need around the world. We ask that you continue the lifesaving and life improving work of food aid by increasing the agriculture appropriations funding in fiscal year 2025 to at least $2.4 billion to carry out the necessary and vital work accomplished in the P.L. 480 Title II Food for Peace, Food for Progress, and McGovern-Dole programs.

Joe Brown, a long-time member of American Maritime Officers and Great Lakes Representative, has been appointed National Vice President, Inland Waters, by the AMO National Executive Board. Brown will complete the term of Danny Robichaux, who is now serving as AMO National Executive Vice President.

Brown sailed for three decades on the Great Lakes, with twenty years as a member of AMO. He holds an unlimited master’s license and his last ship before coming ashore to work for the union was the steamer Wilfred Sykes. He started work as a boarding representative on the Lakes in 2019 and was later promoted to National Assistant Vice President, Great Lakes, before accepting the post as National Vice President, Inland Waters.

Brown earned his license through the hawsepipe and holds a bachelor’s degree in logistics management from Robert Morris College.

The union’s National Executive Board has hired two new boarding representatives to fill vacant positions. Alex Butler is the union’s West Coast Representative and Peter Kinsey is the Great Lakes Representative.

Butler is a 23-year member of AMO and has spent the past 16 years working onboard U.S. Maritime Administration Ready Reserve Force ships Keystone State, Gem State and Grand Canyon State, where he last sailed as Captain on his unlimited master’s license.

Butler started out with AMO on passenger ships in Hawaii and enjoyed tramping on heavy-lift ships as a Second Mate. He served in sealift missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He found working with the U.S. military in support of our troops to be deeply gratifying and has continued working in partnership with the U.S. Armed Forces throughout his career.

He graduated from California Maritime Academy in 2001 and returned to earn his master’s degree in transportation and engineering management with a focus on humanitarian disaster management in 2019.

Kinsey has been a member of AMO for ten years. After graduating from high school, he sailed as a Wiper in the Gulf of Mexico, then attended Great Lakes Maritime Academy. Upon graduation in 2014, he started his career with AMO onboard the Walter J. McCarthy Jr.

Kinsey worked in various relief jobs on the Lakes before becoming permanent on the M/V Buffalo. His other permanent assignments included the M/V Indiana Harbor, M/V Sam Laud, M/V St. Clair and the M/V American Integrity. While sailing as Second Mate on the M/V St. Clair, he also attended graduate school and earned a master’s degree in English from Southern New Hampshire University. Kinsey holds an unlimited master’s license with master of towing.