Big Wins for Maritime
The most recently enacted National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) contains a number of key victories for the U.S. Merchant Marine, and I’m proud to say the SIU played an active role in helping secure many of the components.
One of the particularly noteworthy developments is the doubling of the new U.S. Tanker Security Program (TSP) from the initial 10 ships later this year to 20 in the year 2024. Not only will this mean more shipboard jobs, it also will strengthen U.S. national security by reducing potential reliance on foreign ships and crews.
In what I would describe as a “lessons learned” section, the legislation boosts Jones Act enforcement through a series of smart procedural mandates. This should help preserve American jobs while making it harder for foreign-flag interests to attempt “crisis arbitrage” – taking advantage of situations such as natural disasters just to make a buck.
The NDAA also has a lot of meat when it comes to modernizing the mariner credentialing system and reducing the current backlogs. As Seafarers know, these are critical steps that absolutely affect U.S. national, economic and homeland security.
Other elements of the bill focus on maintaining safe workplaces, making it easier for military veterans with sea time to enter our industry, and guaranteeing shore leave for our brothers and sisters in the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration fleet.
Finally, the legislation includes this “Sense of Congress on Merchant Marine” that is straightforward and powerful: “It is the sense of Congress that the United States Merchant Marine is a critical part of the national infrastructure of the United States, and the men and women of the United States Merchant Marine are essential workers.”
Our legislative team deserves kudos for helping advance your interests – and our rank-and-file members deserve credit, too. Your professionalism and reliability strengthen our voice on Capitol Hill (and at other levels of government). Candidly, your support of SPAD, the union’s voluntary political action fund, also makes a big difference. It’s vital for helping us promote and protect not just the SIU but the broader U.S. Merchant Marine.
I look forward to watching all of this play out and to helping make it happen.
Brotherhood of the Sea
Whether you’re flipping through printed pages or scrolling online, a look at pretty much any issue of the LOG gives readers a good idea of what we’re all about.
In this edition alone, our coverage reflects the SIU securing great contracts, saving lives at sea, brightening the holidays for one another, engaging in grassroots political action, and even speaking up for mariners on the world stage.
Additionally, the class photos from our affiliated school in Piney Point, Maryland, are more than just potential keepsakes. They reflect the steady operations of a world-class training facility – one that serves as a gateway for career advancement. And, the apprentice photos show the next generation of Seafarers (who’ll benefit greatly from what we’re working on now). We need to make sure these young women and men continue entering our industry.
Not to be overlooked are the Seafarers Health and Benefits Plan Scholarships that are available to members and their dependents. Be sure to check on those details, apply if it’s something that might help you, and encourage others to do the same.
Last but definitely not least, read the answers in our “Inquiring Seafarer” feature. (By the way, that feature has run in the LOG off and on for decades.) Those comments from longtime members again reflect an organization that has a lot to offer and much to be proud of.
Now, let’s continue our momentum in the New Year!