U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis recently offered strong words of support for the U.S. Merchant Marine.
Speaking June 16 to new graduates of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, Mattis said, “You’re going to be the fourth arm of the defense. You’re going to sustain our allies and fuel our ships and ferry our warriors.”
During his remarks in Kings Point, New York, the secretary stated, “As small as our merchant marine may be today, it is absolutely essential. We’re going to need you as we see the storm clouds gather elsewhere as our diplomats are in a position where we have to buy time for them to solve problems.”
Mattis told the gathering of nearly 4,500 people that his father had been a merchant mariner during World War II. He relayed a 1935 quote from the leader who guided America’s effort during that war, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, recalling his time as Assistant Secretary of the Navy during World War I: “‘In the event of a war, American-flag ships are obviously needed not only for Naval auxiliary, but also for the maintenance of reasonable and necessary commercial intercourse. We should remember the lessons learned in the last war.’”
Mattis reminded the graduates and audience, “Those lessons that he was speaking to are timeless, and I would tell you the essential nature of an efficient and a resilient merchant marine that is fearless and that is what we still need today.”