U.S. Maritime Labor, Vessel Operators Urge Funding for Shipbuilding Program

March 2011

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The SIU in late January joined with other maritime unions, American-flag vessel operators and other industry representatives in urging funding for the U.S. Maritime Administration’s shipbuilding loan guarantee program, known as Title XI.


In a letter to U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), the unions, companies and others pointed out the “program warrants continued support even as Congress understandably reviews all accounts carefully. This is not a large, top down government program but a small program based on private sector initiative and applications. The program guarantees commercial loans for privately financed commercial ship construction and shipyard modernization – all in the United States. Demand for program guarantees has consistently exceeded available resources.”


Rep. Young is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Defense; Rep. Dicks is the Subcommittee’s ranking member.


Signing the letter were representatives from the SIU, American Maritime Officers; International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots; Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association; Aker Philadelphia Shipyard; American Maritime Congress; American Maritime Officers Service; American Shipping Group; Central Gulf Lines, Inc.; Crowley Maritime Corporation; Horizon Lines, Inc.; Maritime Institute for Research and Industrial Development; Shipbuilders Council of America; Transportation Institute; and Waterman Steamship Corp.


“Funding and implementation of the Title XI program will help grow the U.S. economy and create and maintain American jobs in the domestic shipbuilding and related service and supply industries, as well as aboard United States-flag commercial vessels,” the letter stated. “It will help maintain the nation’s defense shipbuilding base and an active U.S.-flag merchant marine, which is essential to U.S. defense sealift requirements. The program has created and maintained tens of thousands of well-paying seagoing and shoreside jobs, and helped to ensure that an adequate pool of vessels and mariners and a shipyard industrial base, including associated supply industries, is available to meet U.S. economic, homeland and national sealift needs.


“The program also provides a strong return for the government, as each Title XI dollar leverages 15-20 dollars of private investment. Moreover, the resulting overall economic activity has been estimated to be several times the shipyard output.”


Finally, the letter indicated that sporadic funding for Title XI “makes it difficult to develop even short-term plans, much less multi-year strategies, and inhibits critical economic activity in the maritime sector. On the other hand, a consistently funded program will help grow the maritime industry and the economy as shipowners and shipyards invest in their enterprises.”


According to the AFL-CIO Maritime Trades Department, since funding for the program was revived under the Defense Reconversion Act of 1993, “it has helped stabilize America’s vitally important domestic shipbuilding industry. Thousands of jobs have been saved or created; millions of dollars have been generated at the state, local and federal levels. Hundreds of vessels have been built. A viable pool of skilled civilian mariners has been maintained. America’s strategic capability has been enhanced.”

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