U.S. Congress Recommends U.S. Maritime Revitalization Plan

Port Bureau News, Newest Edition,

A bipartisan group of lawmakers that included Congressman Mike Waltz, Senator Mark Kelly, Senator Marco Rubio, and Congressman John Garamendi have issued a call to action to address the decline of country's maritime power.

U.S. shipbuilding capacity and maritime workforce have been significantly weakened by neglect from government and private industry. The U.S.-flag shipping fleet is dwindling and is critical for transporting American goods and supporting military operations during conflicts. The situation is worsened by the rise of China’s maritime capabilities, that include the People’s Liberation Army Navy and the Chinese merchant marine, which outnumber their American counterparts.

According to a congressional report titled Congressional Guidance for a National Maritime Strategy and data from the Office of Naval Intelligence, China’s shipbuilding capacity is 230 times greater than that of the United States, and the imbalance threatens the U.S.’s ability to compete in the global ocean economy, valued between $3 trillion and $6 trillion.

The guidance plan calls for government leaders to acknowledge the issue and for the president to establish a National Maritime Council. The council would be led by a presidential appointee, for the creation and execution of a national maritime strategy. The plan also requests Congress to review and fully finance maritime agencies that back the maritime industry, including the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Maritime Administration, and Federal Maritime Commission. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro endorsed the action plan at the Senate Armed Service committee meeting on May 16.

Maritime development initiatives have faced major challenges due to the underfunding and understaffing of these and other crucial maritime agencies. The U.S. Maritime Administration has less than 2 percent of the workforce of its sister agency, the FAA. These issues also affect understaffed maritime desks within other departments, such as the State Department and Treasury.

To read the full plan, click here.