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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.
Welcome General Handy.

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

hearing.

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

Authorization bill.

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.

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Mr. Chairman, Congressman Allen, and Members of the Merchant Marine

Panel of the House Armed Services Committee, I appreciate the opportunity to

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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

crisis.

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

States.

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

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needed to transport military equipment and supplies comes from the commercial

sector.

Looking ahead, the War on Terrorism could eventually push our

baseline requirement for commercial sealift even higher.

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