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From a readiness perspective, it is my understanding that the proposed regulations generally would still require the use of U.S. built, U.S. flagged, U.S._crewed vessels in the coastwise trade. If the final regulations end up this way, U.S. mariners still would be employed on these vessels and these vessels would still be subject to requisitioning.
QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY MRS. DAVIS
Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. Have we increased our pool or maintained our pool? It was my understanding it is dwindled.
General HANDY. The merchant mariner pool has declined. As we look out into the future, the most current analysis suggests that we will be more than 1,000 mariners short of our requirement by the 2005 timeframe, which is literally right around the corner. And, I would add, that current estimates lack the clarity we would like. It's possible that the actual shortfall could indeed be even higher and that concerns me. That is one reason USTRANSCOM is assisting MARAD in their ongoing study which should provide better resolution on the extent of the mariner shortfall. And so, every endeavor that we can take to sustain and increase where possible that U.S. mariner pool, we're certainly in favor of and endorse.