A longtime backer of the U.S. Merchant Marine recently picked up a prestigious award near the nation’s capital.
On May 16, U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Virginia) was honored by the International Propeller Club of the United States during the organization’s annual Salute to Congress awards ceremony, which took place at the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, Virginia.
In attendance from the SIU were Executive Vice President Augie Tellez, Vice President Contracts George Tricker, Legislative Director Brian Schoeneman and Piney Point Port Agent Pat Vandegrift.
Wittman, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, was honored for his steadfast support of the American Merchant Marine and the U.S.-flag fleet. He founded and co-chairs the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus because he understands the importance of protecting laws like the Jones Act and the Maritime Security Program, which in turn help to keep the nation’s waterways safe from potential threats.
In his acceptance speech, he spoke of the need to strengthen the Ready Reserve Force with the addition of new ships.
“We are at one of those crossroads where we must recapitalize those fleets,” he said, before expressing strong support for the “three pillars” that enable American mariners to fulfill their important role in our nation’s economy, security and national defense: the Jones Act, the Maritime Security Program and cargo preference laws.
“Continued Congressional support of a healthy commercial maritime industry is essential to domestic security,” he continued. “Despite the usage of heavy lift aircraft, large oceangoing vessels remain crucial to military mobility in the 21st century. U.S. troops stationed in the Middle East and Afghanistan receive much of their supplies via U.S.-flag vessels because of their capacity and low cost. In the long term, we must find ways to rebuild the U.S. shipbuilding infrastructure and commercial shipping industry – because, in the end, it is much more strategic than lowering transportation costs. I am truly humbled to receive this award and will continue to work each day to be deserving of this honor.”
Schoeneman remarked, “Not only did Chairman Wittman give a great speech, he did it without notes. He is one of the most knowledgeable members of Congress and we are fortunate to have him not only as chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee, but also as a strong maritime and SIU supporter.”
“Representative Wittman has certainly earned the Salute to Congress honor with his outstanding support for the U.S. maritime industry,” said the Propeller Club’s International President Rear Adm. Joel Whitehead. “We are grateful for his leadership of the Seapower Subcommittee and of the Shipbuilding Caucus.”
The International Propeller Club of the United States is a non-profit, international association dedicated to the promotion of the maritime industry, commerce and global trade. Through more than 75 chapters located in port cities in the U.S. and abroad, the Propeller Club promotes the maritime industry and contributes to professional development of its members.
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