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Statement of the Honorable Duncan Hunter before the Special Oversight Panel on the Merchant Marine, House Armed Services Committee, October 8, 2002
This hearing will come to order.
My opening remarks will be brief. However, before we address the
business before this panel---consideration of the military's commercial sealift requirements under a new Maritime Security Program, I would like to
extend a warm welcome to our witness today; General John Handy,
Commander in Chief, the United States Transportation Command.
This is the third in a series of hearings being held by this panel that will lead up to a reauthorization of a new Maritime Security Program. At the first hearing, the panel heard from current vessel operators as well as the so-called "section 2 citizens". Frankly, I think many of us learned a great deal at that hearing. At some point, I am convinced that we will come up with a legislative solution that will address some of the issues raised at that
At the second hearing, we heard from witnesses representing both
large and small shipbuilding interests. Since that hearing, I have started to
see some creative financing proposals that offer us a realistic opportunity to
have a shipbuilding component in any new MSP reauthorization. My
personal view is that we can reach agreement on a shipbuilding component
without jeopardizing the operational component of a new bill.
After hearing from General Handy today on DOD's MSP sealift
requirements, I will ask the Department of Transportation and the Maritime
Administration to appear before us and present their proposal for a
reauthorization of the MSP. Just a important as their appearance and
legislative suggestions will be their commitment to pursue funding for a
program in this upcoming fiscal year.
It is my goal, after working with and getting the agreement of the
other members of this panel, to have a comprehensive legislative proposal
ready for markup early next year and to attach it to the FY'04 Defense
Before I recognize our witness, I would like to recognize the
distinguished ranking member of this panel, the Honorable Tom Allen of
Maine for any statement he might wish to make.
Mr. Chairman, Congressman Allen, and Members of the Merchant Marine
Panel of the House Armed Services Committee, I appreciate the opportunity to
at operations on multiple fronts in support of the War on Terrorism, it is
clear that our limited defense resources will increasingly rely on
partnerships with industry to maintain the needed capability and capacity to
meet our most demanding wartime scenarios.
That makes MSP reauthorization
even more important as we look toward the future.
MSP is a cost effective
program that assures guaranteed access to required commercial U.S. Flag
shipping and U.S. Merchant Mariners, when needed. The alternative to MSP is,
ultimately, reliance on foreign flag vessels manned by foreign crews during
MSP provides the security of resources we must have in a very
uncertain world fraught with asymmetric threats.
MSP ensures the development
and sustainment of critical strategic partnerships favorable to the United
And, MSP helps ensure the viability of America's merchant mariner
pool needed to activate the Reserve Fleet.
MSP makes sense.
We can't afford
not to invest in MSP.
I strongly advocate for swift reauthorization.
MSP is a critical component of our strategy which recognizes and relies
upon significant augmentation from the U.S. commercial sealift industry to
needed to transport military equipment and supplies comes from the commercial
Looking ahead, the War on Terrorism could eventually push our
baseline requirement for commercial sealift even higher.