U.S. Must Create, Maintain Good Jobs

March 2010

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In a major maritime development, the union is adding two roll-on/roll-off (RO/RO) vessels to its contracted fleet.

At press time, SIU-contracted Maersk Line, Limited (MLL) was in the process of reflagging two modern ships under the Stars and Stripes. The Hoegh London became the Alliance Charleston on Feb. 12, while the Hoegh Tokyo was slated to be renamed the Alliance Beaumont around month’s end.

The London/Alliance Charleston was constructed in 2008, while the Tokyo/Alliance Beaumont was built in 2004. Each 27,000 DWT-ship is 751 feet long and has more than 710,000 square feet of cargo space. Each can carry 7,900 car equivalent units (CEU) and can sail at greater than 20 knots.

The vessels were constructed by Daewoo Shipbuilding. One of them, the Alliance Beaumont will enroll in the U.S. Maritime Security Program (MSP).

“It would be an understatement to call this a welcome event,” said SIU President Michael Sacco. “These ships mean new jobs for the SIU membership. Also, as on other occasions when militarily useful tonnage has entered the American-flag fleet, the reflagging of the Alliance Charleston and the Alliance Beaumont helps our country’s national and economic security. These vessels will help maintain the pool of well-trained, loyal American crews who answer our nation’s call in peace and war.”

In a communication to top officials at the U.S. Transportation Command, U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Coast Guard, respectively, MLL President and CEO John Reinhart said that in order to accomplish the flag-ins, “We worked together with MarAd, the U.S. Coast Guard, the EPA and our maritime labor partners to achieve another important milestone. We appreciate this positive cooperation, which resulted in the expansion and modernization of the U.S. Merchant Marine fleet to serve our nation, support the military and create employment for the U.S. mariners.”

In addition to helping ensure availability of reliable civilian crews, the MSP also gives the military access to a state-of-the-art intermodal network around the world. With roots dating to the mid-1990s, the program currently provides for a fleet of up to 60 vessels.

Many of those ships are crewed by SIU members, and they help equip America to provide sealift for U.S. armed forces.

High-ranking military officers have pointed out that the MSP fleet provides this national security asset at a substantially lower cost than the government owning and maintaining an equivalent capability.

Moreover, an American-flag commercial fleet operating in international trade enables the government to offer global economic and agricultural assistance programs, and provides the crews that are used to sail government reserve vessels in time of need.

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