National Maritime Day: reflecting on a legacy, ensuring the future
From barges that move coal to vessels that carry vital pharmaceuticals and construction materials to ships that transport military cargo overseas, mariners and marine transportation play crucial roles in our society. Each year on May 22, we observe National Maritime Day to honor the U.S. Merchant Mariners who have served and continue to serve our nation.
National Maritime Day commemorates those merchant mariners who made the ultimate sacrifice while also highlighting the growing global dependence on maritime services. It also gives us an opportunity to ensure that we encourage and prepare our next generation of merchant mariners, who will be essential to tomorrow's maritime industry.
That’s why the Maritime Administration (MARAD) has been working with the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) leadership and staff on a number of upgrades to the Kings Point campus and the Academy's services. I am pleased to report that since 2014, we’ve completely overhauled the USMMA waterfront through reconstruction of Mallory Pier, and we have completed essential renovations of the Midshipman barracks and dining facilities. We also rechristened the Academy’s training vessel, the T/S Kings Pointer, following a $3.3 million retrofit to ensure that Kings Point Midshipmen get first-rate preparation aboard a state-of-the art training vessel.
MARAD has also been working with the six State Maritime Academies, providing more than $13 million from the sale and recycling of obsolete Federal vessels. These funds directly support facility and training ship maintenance, repair, and modernization so we can provide our next generations of merchant mariners the best training and education possible.
We are continuously looking for opportunities to assist America’s maritime academies in accomplishing their mission to educate Midshipmen and Cadets who earn both a degree and a U.S. Coast Merchant Mariner credential. That is why President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget includes $5 million in funding for the design of a new national security Multi-Mission Vessel. These new ships would benefit our State Maritime Academies and the nation by not only serving as a training vessels, but also by providing necessary resources to respond in times of natural disaster or humanitarian emergencies.
On National Maritime Day, we reflect on the fact that America would not be a global power if not for the U.S. Merchant Mariners who have served throughout our proud history. And to guarantee a continued robust future, we still require the best educated, most highly-skilled and experienced merchant mariners. That is a future that MARAD is committed to making happen! One that enables our maritime industry to continue to build national economic strength, provide vital sealift capability to globally project and sustain our Armed Forces, and enable rapid response to humanitarian crises worldwide.