Former Administrators Speak Out for Merchant Marine


December 2012


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Two former U.S. maritime administrators – retired Vice Adm. Albert Herberger and retired Capt. William Schubert – are speaking out for the U.S. Merchant Marine in an opinion piece published by Defense News. Herberger, who also was deputy commander of the U.S. Transportation Command, served at MarAd from 1993-97, while Schubert served at the agency from 2001-05. Both currently work as maritime consultants.


Their jointly written piece begins: “During times of war or national emergency, the U.S. government relies on the U.S. Merchant Marine and its public-private partnership with the Department of Defense to ensure there is adequate U.S.-controlled capacity to transport critical cargo anywhere in the world at any time.


“Thanks to this partnership, the U.S. Merchant Marine’s vessels, infrastructure and manpower are at the nation’s disposal whenever necessary. Without this, our assured ability to deliver military equipment and supplies quickly and efficiently to our soldiers would be severely diminished.”


Herberger and Schubert go on to cite recent, dangerous cuts to cargo preference that will wipe out American jobs and harm the nation’s security. They advocate reversing the cuts by enacting the Saving Essential American Sailors (SEAS) Act, H.R. 6170, which was introduced by U.S. Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Jeff Landry (R-La.) and which has dozens of cosponsors.


“We salute them for recognizing the national security imperative of ensuring the readiness of the U.S. Merchant Marine, and we urge other members to join the movement to enact this bill and reverse the unwarranted and dangerous cut in U.S.-flag shipping requirements,” Herberger and Schubert wrote. “We understand that congressional leaders must often make tough decisions. Reversing the cut to cargo preference and preserving the U.S. Merchant Marine is not one of them.”


They added, “Since its founding in 1776, our nation has depended on the U.S. Merchant Marine to ensure that we have a trustworthy, reliable sealift capability so no country can have a veto over U.S. foreign policy. Most recently, U.S.-flag vessels safely and effectively carried more than 90 percent of military supplies for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Without the citizen merchant mariners manning these ships, the U.S. would be forced to depend on politically unreliable foreign ships and foreign crews to carry some of its most important cargoes.


“The U.S. Merchant Marine is critical not only because it is a trustworthy extension of U.S. military capabilities, but also because it is cost-effective. In fact, MarAd has indicated that the Defense Department would need $13 billion in capital costs plus $1 billion in annual operating costs to replicate the sealift capacity that it obtains at a fraction of that price through the U.S. Merchant Marine.”



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