MSC Commander: Civilian Mariners, Jones Act 'Vital to National Security'

December 2010

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The commander of the U.S. Military Sealift Command (MSC), Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, recently described civilian mariners and the Jones Act as “vital to our national security.”


Buzby made that remark Oct. 28 during a meeting of the Washington branch of the International Propeller Club in the nation’s capital. A day earlier, he met with the presidents of five maritime unions, including SIU President Michael Sacco, and other officials in Washington as part of a regular series of gatherings designed to facilitate communication and cooperation between the agency and maritime labor.


SIU Vice President Contracts George Tricker and SIU Counsel Deborah Kleinberg participated in the latter meeting, as did MEBA President Don Keefe, AMO President Tom Bethel, MFOW President Anthony Poplawski, SUP President Gunnar Lundeberg, MM&P Secretary-Treasurer Don Marcus and several others.


Buzby covered a wide range of topics in his speech to the Propeller Club, but one point of emphasis was the Jones Act. The Jones Act requires that cargo transported from one U.S. port to another be moved aboard ships that are crewed, built, owned and flagged American. Credible studies have proven that the law helps sustain roughly 500,000 American jobs and pumps billions of dollars into the U.S. economy each year. It unquestionably helps maintain a reliable pool of well-trained, loyal, U.S. citizen mariners who are available to sail aboard military support ships in times of crisis. Additionally, most other industrialized countries have similar laws.


The MSC commander in his prepared remarks said that when it comes to backing the Jones Act, “From my standpoint, it’s a no-brainer. We need a strong maritime industry, and part of a strong industry is highly trained merchant mariners, so many of whom are employed on Jones Act ships. We need a strong shipbuilding industry. We can’t let the generations that follow us forget what America was capable of when the call went out for Liberty and Victory ships during World War II.


“We need the current shipping capacity to move the lifeblood of this country where it needs to go, when it needs to go,” he continued. “The Jones Act supports all these things. It’s vital to our national security, just as you are.”


Buzby also provided an overview of MSC’s current operations and goals. Among other topics, he discussed the prepositioning program, humanitarian missions, multinational training exercises and Navy shipbuilding. He said that as the agency takes on new missions, they will need more civilian mariners.

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Rear Admiral Mark Buzby

SIU President Michael Sacco (second from right), MSC Commander Rear Adm. Mark Buzby (center) and others met Oct. 27 at MEBA headquarters. Pictured from left to right are AMO President Tom Bethel, MEBA President Don Keefe, Buzby, Sacco, and MM&P Secretary-Treasurer Don Marcus.