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Mr. HUNTER. Yes. We have a lot of them waiting for this job. It is crazy. (Laughter.]
Well, just one last question, Mr. Clancey.
Mr. HUNTER. Just a historic note. Was Maersk one of the suppliers of North Vietnam during the Vietnam War?
Mr. CLANCEY. No.
Mr. HUNTER. Well, I was in Vietnam, too, and I have no idea if they were or not. [Laughter.]
But who was—because I know Britain was supplying a lot of materiel at that time to the North, who was moving that stuff for them? Do you have any idea?
Mr. JOHNSEN. I can only tell you that we were there, but we were there with the American flag on the sterns, supplying you guys over there. And I was in two of the wars. I was supplying the third one.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay.
Mr. CLANCEY. I do not know. I just know that they did not all I was concerned about was keeping my head down and making sure I ate every two or three days.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. But you were supplying the American side, Maersk was?
Mr. CLANCEY. Sealand was.
Mr. HUNTER. What was Maersk—do you know, for a fact, whether Maersk was or was not involved in supplying North VietnamMaersk, not Sealand?
Mr. CLANCEY. I do not believe I could not swear to it-
Mr. CLANCEY. But no, they were not. It is just something that the company would not do. But if I find something to the contrary, I will certainly let you know.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Thank you.
Well, gentlemen, thank you for letting us have a good candid exchange. That is the way we are able to get information and that is the American way. And it is great to have you all in this panel and have a good back and forth. We appreciate it.
We are now going to get our labor leaders up here, and we will have them contradict you.
Gentlemen, thank you for being with us, and we are going to continue with our hearing.
And Mr. Sacco, I understand you have been-I hope you have been well briefed by Mr. Turner to prepare you for this harsh panel here. We appreciate you being with us, sir.
Mr. Davis, Captain Rodriguez, Mr. McKay, and we look forward to hearing your perspective on MSP.
So Mr. Sacco, the floor is yours, sir.
STATEMENT OF MR. MICHAEL SACCO, PRESIDENT, SEA
FARERS' INTERNATIONAL UNION; MR. RON DAVIS, PRESI-
My name is Michael Sacco and I am president of the Seafarers International Union (SIU). And I am pleased to submit this statement on behalf of the American Maritime Officers, the International Organization of Master, Mates, & Pilots (MMP), the Marine Engineers' Benevolent Association and my union, the Seafarers International Union of North America.
Our unions represent the American maritime workers employed aboard U.S. flag commercial vessels, including all the vessels, including all the vessels participating today in the Maritime Security Program.
On the outset, I want to express my appreciation to you, Mr. Chairman, and to the members of the panel, for holding this hearing on the Maritime Security Program. This program is critically important to the workers we represent, and also to our ability to be able recruit, retain, qualified American mariners.
Without this program, U.S. flag vessels will leave the American registry and seafaring personnel will be forced to seek employment outside the industry. And when that happens, our country will face a shortage of seafaring personnel, posing a serious risk for the nation.
Our unions believe that the best long-term solution in guaranteeing that the United States will have American seafaring personnel it needs is to develop a larger, more active and competitive commercial U.S. flag merchant marine.
We are convinced that this program could, with appropriate and practical changes, serve as an even greater source of employment for American mariners. Support to a greater degree, American military operations overseas and better protect U.S. economic interests from total domination from foreign-flag vessels and crews.
Thus we believe the Maritime Security Program should be extended for an additional period of at least 20 years.
This change would help create greater stability within the American maritime industry; provide an enormous boost to our outgoing efforts to recruit and retain men and women for service in the merchant Marine; and will give investors and lending institutions more confidence to provide funds necessary for the replacement of vessels and the expansion of the U.S. flag fleet.
In addition, the Congress and the administration should capitalize on the initial successes of the maritime program by expanding the size of the MSP fleet. Not only will a larger militarily-useful fleet ensure that the Department of Defense will have an even greater commercial sealift capability at its disposal to meet the sealift manpower and sustain the needs of our armed forces, but it would also provide a greater, much needed base for peace-time commercial employment for American mariners.
Furthermore, we believe the annual payment should be increased and should be subject to annual adjustments to reflect future inflation. And we believe that the Maritime Security Program should be amended to reflect the current ownership of U.S. flag vessels consistent with, to the fullest extent practical, the existing priority system for awarding operating agreements and the overall interests of the Department of Defense.
We want to emphasize, Mr. Chairman, that under the proposed changes in citizenship ownership rules that we suggest, the MSP fleet will continue to be comprised entirely of American-flag ships with American crews, operated by companies controlled by Americans and contractually bound to provide national defense sealift shipping for the U.S. military worldwide.
These proposed changes would strengthen the Maritime Security Program and help ensure it is long-term viability. We note that representatives of the Department of Defense have repeatedly indicated their support for such changes.
In fact, they, too, have indicated that not only are they necessary to the future program, but that these arrangements have been, and are, used by the military to provide the operation of vessels performing a wide range of defense missions.
The unions sitting at this table, look forward to working with you to develop an expanded and updated maritime program which will create a more competitive and cost-effective U.S. flag commercial fleet.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And we will answer any questions that you may have. And I think Ron—
[The prepared statement of Mr. Sacco, Mr. Davis, Mr. Rodriguez, and Mr. McKay can be found in the Appendix on page 91.]
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you very much, Mr. Saaco, for a very fine statement.
Mr. DAVIS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of this panel.
Thank you for holding this hearing. I welcome the opportunity to appear before you today on behalf of the men and the women of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association.
Our members serve aboard 40 of the 47 MSP vessels supplying international waters today and are an integral part of our armed forces national defense sealift capability.
The authorization of extended MSP, increase in size to 60 ships, is of vital interest to my unit and to our nation's economic and military security.
In addition to the points raised in the joint statement for this hearing, I want to emphasize at the outset in my remarks an important principal in any such program must be that U.S. mariner jobs, and more specifically, licensed officers' jobs, can not be disenfranchised.
By this, I mean the relationship between unions and the ratio of vessels must be preserved so that no future program jeopardizes already proven, highly trained and ready personnel available to our nation.
As the president of the nation's oldest maritime unit, founded in 1875, I am deeply troubled that, since January of this year, I have seen 12 vessels leave the American flag either to be re-flagged foreign or scrapped.
The Marine Engineer's Beneficial Association (MEBA) officers served aboard all 12 of these vessels. No doubt my fellow brothers on this panel have also witnessed the continuing loss of ships to foreign flags or to the scrap yard.
Such a loss of maritime capability is unacceptable for a nation faced with global challenges and responsibilities. Even more so in light of September 11 and the ongoing war on terrorism.
Importantly, three of these 12 vessels that once flew the American flag participated in the MSP program. We are confident that, with an extended and expanded program to MSP, replacement tonnage for these vessels will be brought on line soon, together with jobs for sailing members.
The other nine vessels no longer sailing under the U.S. flag represent a deplorable loss that will, most likely, not be met with replacement ships, unless a new, expanded program is authorized. In addition to losing an essential asset in time of national emergency, ships lost to our flag also represent lost jobs.
The nation's dwindling pool of highly-trained professional mariners represents not only a threat to the well being of my union and the U.S. maritime industry, but the lack of U.S. maritime manpower is a direct threat to our national security. These loyal, readyto-serve merchant mariners provide reliable crews for our MSP ships and other merchant marine vessels in a time of feral coalitions and global uncertainty. Moreover, the same crew base is expected to fully man the Defense Department's reserve sealift fleet.
The panel is familiar, I am sure, of the role played by the merchant marines serving this nation throughout its history. We have seen heroic efforts ranging from the Murmansk Run in World War II to Korea and Vietnam and to recent emergencies in the Persian Gulf, the Balkans and at home at the shore side evacuation of lower Manhattan on September 11.
The Staten Island ferries and New York City fireboats rescuing victims of that tragedy were crewed by MEBA members, eager to lend a hand at a moment's notice.
Just as the merchant marine is the cornerstone of the U.S. military's ability to project power globally, MSP is the cornerstone of our nation's maritime policy. Together with the Jones Act and cargo preference laws, MSP makes up the absolutely essential triad of maritime policies and programs supporting the U.S. merchant marine.
Without action to create an expanded program to MSP, MEBA risks losing 40 contracted vessels participating in MSP. Without action, these vessels will leave the U.S. flag. Without action, the maritime loses more mariners. Without action, America will lose a key element of military and economic power at a time when there is no substitute for American leadership. Without action, the day may come when U.S. troops engaged in combat halfway around the world are left vulnerable due to lack of ammunition and supplies because there are not enough U.S. ships to service them.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Thank you, Mr. Davis, appreciate it.
Mr. RODRIGUEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the panel.
I am Captain Mike Rodriguez, executive assistant to Captain Tim Brown, president of the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots.
Were it not for the fact that our union is presently holding its 79th convention, Captain Brown would be here, personally, to express our union's support for the Maritime Security Program and for the changes we believe are necessary to make it work even better for the United States.
On behalf of Captain Brown and the membership of the MMP, I am grateful that this hearing is being held—we are grateful that this hearing is being held so that Congress can gather the information it needs to properly consider Maritime Security Program reauthorization legislation.
At the outset, I want to emphasize that the reauthorization of the Maritime Security Program is extremely important for the masters and licensed deck officers represented by the MMP. We represent licensed officers working aboard 37 of the 47 United States flag vessels enrolled in the program. As such, the Maritime Security Program represents the most significant component of our U.S. flag foreign trades commercial fleet.
Let me state that the Masters, Mates, & Pilots strongly endorses the statement submitted to this panel by the four seagoing organizations represented here, today. Rather than simply repeat what my colleagues have already said, I would like to make and emphasize two points.
First, we believe that if we have learned anything from the attacks on our nation of September 11, it is that we must be even more vigilant about the threats we face through the carriers of cargo from overseas locations. To us, the only real security is the security that comes with the operation of United States flag vessels, crewed by United States citizens, as guaranteed by the Maritime Security Program.
The best way to ensure that our country has the information it needs regarding the ownership, operation, and crews of commercial vessels is if they are American flagged. We believe that a larger, more realistic Maritime Security Program, resulting in more vessels operating under the U.S. flag, with American crews, further enhances America's security by giving our country a greater measure of control over the loading and transportation of cargo destined for the United States ports, as more of America's foreign trade is carried on vessels owned and operated by American companies flying the American flag and crewed by our mariners.
Second, if Congress considers the issues relating to the U.S. citizenship ownership of vessels operating in the Maritime Security Program, it is important to understand exactly what we are suggesting and how maritime labor's proposal fits under current law.
Neither the Masters, Mates & Pilots union nor the other seafaring unions are asking Congress to abandon the United States citizen ownership requirements that apply to United States flagged foreign-trade vessels, in general, or to vessels in the Maritime Security Program. In fact, today, there are a significant number of United States flagged vessels that carry commercial and military cargoes that are operated by documentation citizens, as allowed by the existing law.