Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
M/V Liberty Naming Ceremony
June 2, 2017
Thank you, Eric [Ebeling, President and CEO, American Roll On/Roll Off Carrier Group], for that gracious introduction. I am delighted to be here today with the First Lady of South Carolina, Peggy McMaster; President Mike Sacco of the Seafarers International; and, Lt. General Lyons, the Deputy Commander of the U.S. Transportation Command. Jim Newsome, President and CEO of South Carolina ports; Chris Spain, AMO National Assistant Vice President, and Joel Szabat, Executive Director of the Federal Maritime Administration are with us, as well. What an illustrious group to welcome Liberty to the Maritime Security Program (MSP) fleet!
And let me say a special “hello” to the crews from some of the Maritime Administration’s sealift ships who are with us today. Along with the Maritime Security Program (MSP), the MARAD ships-- including the Cape D’s based here in Charleston-- are the core of the sealift fleet our country relies upon in peace and war.
As you know so well, a modern U.S.-flag fleet, crewed by skilled U.S. Merchant Mariners, is an important component of our national security. Ships are the most reliable and economical way to transport and deliver heavy vehicles, ammunition, equipment and supplies to our armed forces when and where they are needed.
Liberty can carry more main battle tanks than one hundred C-17 heavy lift aircraft, with a fraction of the fuel consumption! And it can sail during all kinds of weather. This kind of capacity and reliability helps provide critical support our armed forces need to respond effectively in contingency situations worldwide. In addition, the vital partnership between our armed forces and these commercial vessels sustains America’s Merchant Marine, providing good jobs for 2,400 U.S. mariners.
Liberty will further strengthen that partnership, bringing more than 160,000 square feet of militarily useful Roll On/Roll Off capacity into U.S. service, including 72,547 square feet of heavy deck capacity.
In fact, Liberty’s entry into MSP has substantially increased our ability to meet key U.S. Department of Defense force projection requirements.
And Liberty is the eighth Fidelio-ARC vessel to enter the MSP, joining six others already in service. So let me also acknowledge the contributions of Fidelio-ARC to the MSP, national defense, and the U.S. Merchant Marine. Together, these vessels contribute nearly 1.5 million square feet of capacity to U.S. commercial sealift capacity. And they are enrolled in the Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA) program, which guarantees our country ready access to ships – and their global logistics capacity – whenever the need arises.
So on behalf of the U.S. Department of Transportation and MARAD, I congratulate the Liberty team and welcome Liberty to the MSP fleet!
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