Annual Event Promotes U.S. Maritime Industry on Capitol Hill
Check out photos from the Sail-In HERE
The SIU made another strong showing at a yearly event that has become a staple of the American maritime industry.
On March 20, the ninth annual Maritime Congressional Sail-In saw a record 115 individuals – including officials and representatives from the SIU, other unions, U.S.-flag operators and other organizations – visit 169 Congressional members and their staffs in order to discuss the importance of the Maritime Security Program (MSP), the Jones Act and other programs that are critical to the U.S. Merchant Marine.
Representing the SIU were Executive Vice President Augie Tellez, Vice President Contracts George Tricker, Assistant Vice Presidents Nick Celona and Bryan Powell, Legislative Director Brian Schoeneman, Port Agents Joe Baselice, Todd Brdak, John Hoskins, Mark von Siegel, Pat Vandegrift and Chris Westbrook, and Patrolman Ray Henderson.
The SIU contingent was joined by representatives from every major seafaring union, the Navy League of the United States, various Jones Act companies and organizations, state maritime academies and other allies of the U.S.-flag fleet. Together, these individuals sat down with members of both the House and the Senate – on both sides of the aisle – and explained how the MSP works in conjunction with programs such as Food for Peace and Food for Progress to help maintain the American merchant fleet, the merchant mariner pool and national security.
As was explained by the maritime industry representative’s during the Sail-In, the MSP and its 60-ship fleet of U.S.-flag vessels provides the Department of Defense with militarily useful tonnage, the global intermodal and logistics systems of trusted private shipping companies, and access to the invaluable U.S. civilian mariner pool. All of these benefits come at a fraction of the price it would take to fund them outright.
Sail-In groups pointed out that the MSP has proven its military value since the program’s inception in 1996. For example, since 2009, U.S-flag commercial vessels and their civilian crews have carried more than 90 percent of the cargo needed to support U.S. military operations and rebuilding programs in Afghanistan and Iraq, and vessels enrolled in the MSP carried 99 percent of those cargoes.
Thankfully, the MSP has been fully funded at the recommended $300 million level through Fiscal Year 2018, as part of the newly enacted federal budget.
After the visits, U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-California) addressed participants at a nearby reception. The congressman reiterated his ongoing, unwavering support of the U.S. Merchant Marine and American-flag shipping.