Recognizing Industry’s Importance
Recent remarks by the deputy commander of the United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) underscored the high-level military support enjoyed by the U.S. Merchant Marine.
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. John Sullivan addressed attendees at this year’s Admiral of the Ocean Sea (AOTOS) gathering in New York City on Oct. 28. As longtime Seafarers know, the AOTOS ceremony is an important event for our industry, in large part because it raises money to benefit mariners through the United Seamen’s Service, and also because it generates publicity for an often-overlooked industry.
Sullivan thanked the maritime industry for its history, dedication and patriotism, emphasizing to the audience that this year’s honorees (including SIU members and executives from SIU-contracted companies) represent a vital component of our nation’s security and economy.
He also cited the enormous “impact our maritime community has made over the past months in supporting USTRANSCOM’s movement of materiel to the European continent. Even before Russia’s blatant aggression in Ukraine, with your assistance, USTRANSCOM began delivering supplies to reinforce our allies and partners,” he said. “The sheer volume of materiel moved by sealift has been incredible and has contributed immensely to this effort.”
Importantly, Sullivan explained that although “as a nation we have enjoyed the luxury of being able to strategically move forces and sustain them worldwide with relative impunity” throughout his career, the investments by foreign nations into their respective maritime industries makes it “foolish to believe that we will continue to enjoy that luxury.”
With that in mind, he stressed that mariners, U.S.-flag operators and American bottoms have a massive effect on USTRANSCOM’s ability to project and sustain combat power worldwide, and it will be a team effort to “navigate, communicate, and adjust to the dynamic requirements of the joint force we support…. I am extremely proud of the relationship between USTRANSCOM and our maritime industry.”
The SIU is equally proud of that partnership, and we remain committed to always delivering the goods.
New Ships Ordered
One of the biggest stories in our industry is the recent order by Seafarers-contracted Matson for three new vessels, to be built at Philly Shipyard (a union facility). This is another example of American maritime’s viability, and it points to a future that will be as bright as we’re willing to make it.
You’ve probably heard the expression that America has always been a maritime nation. That’s because our industry has always been important to U.S. national, economic and homeland security. Maintaining a solid shipbuilding capability is an important part of that equation, as is keeping and building upon our shipboard manpower pool.
On that last point, we continue to ramp up our recruiting efforts and encourage our members to invite people to check out what we’ve got to offer. We’ve got no shortage of work, and our contracts and benefits are sources of pride.
As you know, the SIU supports those elected officials who support us – no matter the party. That is why we have worked well with whoever is in the White House and whoever runs Congress. That won’t change in 2023. We’ll work with President Biden, who has long stood by us. We’ll work with the new leadership of Congress to make sure the Jones Act, cargo preference, and the Maritime Security Program remain strong.
And just like that, another year has flown by. I extend heartfelt best wishes to our members, retirees and their families for a safe and happy holiday season. Extra thanks go to those who are spending the holidays at sea, which is part of the job but not always easy.
Last but not least, I extend my gratitude to all of our women and men in uniform. Thank you for your ongoing service, please stay safe – and know that you always can rely on the SIU.