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Photo courtesy American Maritime Partnership

National Maritime Day Celebrates its 90th Anniversary

Josh Guerrlich
Total Views: 1303
May 22, 2023

National Maritime Day has been celebrated on May 22 across the United States since its creation in 1933, making 2023 the 90th annual celebration. 

May 22 was chosen to honor the anniversary of the day a steamship called the Savannah set sail on the first transoceanic voyage under steam power back in 1819. 

The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), part of the Department of Transportation, set this year’s theme as Maritime Moves the Nations: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. MARAD labeled the sections as Yesterday: National Security. Today: Developing Mariner workforce development. Tomorrow: Investing in infrastructure and domestic shipbuilding.

Each year the President of the United States issues an annual proclamation on National Maritime Day. This year, President Biden reiterated his Administration’s “steadfast” support of the Merchant Marine, as well as the Jones Act, a national security law that requires that the transportation of cargo between all U.S. points be carried by American-built, American-crewed and American-owned vessels. He also highlighted the critical importance of the U.S. Merchant Marine to the nation.

“The United States Merchant Marine underpins our Nation’s prosperity and upholds our Nation’s highest principles — freedom, liberty, and dignity. Today, and every day, we honor merchant mariners’ service and sacrifice and renew our commitment to stand by their side, from sea to shining sea,” said President Joe Biden in his proclamation for 2023.

“I call upon all Americans to observe this day and to celebrate the United States Merchant Marine and maritime industry with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.”

President Biden also called for all vessels sailing under the American flag to dress ship in honor of National Maritime Day. 

According to the findings of a recently updated study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on behalf of the Transportation Institute (TI), the American maritime industry contributes more than $154 billion in total economic output annually, creating 650,000 American jobs and $41 billion in labor income. For each shipyard job, four jobs are created elsewhere in the economy.

National Maritime Day Opinion: U.S. Must Maintain its Merchant Marine Fleet to Protect Our Sovereignty

“This National Maritime Day we are reminded that America, from sea to shining sea, needs a strong domestic maritime industry amid continuing economic challenges and growing national security threats,” said Ku’uhaku Park, President of the American Maritime Partnership, which advocates on behalf of domestic maritime interests. “Today is a day to thank our mariners and maritime workers for their sacrifices during wars, the pandemic, and other national emergencies.  Though America is increasingly divided, there is one thing everyone can agree on – we cannot rely on China and Russia to build, own and crew our ships. The Jones Act fleet has served the country time and again and we are honored to represent an industry that serves such a vital economic purpose in securing hundreds of thousands of jobs, while proving an asset to America’s national security and resilience.”

States like Florida have benefited heavily from the maritime industry, with 65,000 jobs created thanks to the industry. On Monday, the Florida Maritime Partnership hosted an event to celebrate National Maritime Day in Jacksonville at the Lone Sailor Statue, which was constructed in 1988 to honor the connection between the city of Jacksonville and the U.S. Navy. 

“Our nation would not be where it is today without its robust maritime industry,” said Laura DiBella, Florida Secretary of Commerce & CEO of Enterprise Florida. “Economic development would not exist without maritime as there are not enough planes, trains, or trucks on this planet to support the amount of cargo moved by ships. This industry is an important economic driver for the state, and it is crucial to move goods throughout the country.” 

Many people, organizations, and locations took to social media to celebrate under #nationalmaritimeday. Here is some of what’s been shared:

Below is a round-up of statements from U.S. lawmakers and stakeholders, compiled by the AMP:

White House Proclamation by President Joe Biden – “My Administration remains steadfast in its support of the Merchant Marine as well as the Jones Act, which ensures American workers see the benefits of our domestic maritime industry.” 

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas – “This National Maritime Day, I want to recognize the more than 56,000 Texans who work in our thriving maritime industry. Texas’ domestic maritime industry accounts for more than $14 billion in economic output while playing a vital role in protecting our national security interests.”

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington – “On National Maritime Day, we recognize the vital importance of the U.S. maritime transportation system to our nation’s economy and security. The maritime industry sustains 22,500 jobs and generates $6.1 billion of economic activity in the State of Washington. From cultivating our workforce and supporting shipyards, to expanding our seafood sector, we must actively support, nurture and grow our domestic maritime industry and the dedicated individuals who contribute to its success.”

U.S. Senator JD Vance of Ohio – “On this National Maritime Day, we honor the thousands of Ohioans who work in maritime roles on the Great Lakes and the Ohio River. These amazing bodies of water not only define our state by shaping its borders and boundaries, but they account for billions of dollars in economic impact every year. I have no doubt that our waterways will continue to play a vital role in growing our state’s economy and enriching the lives of all Ohioans.”

U.S. Senator Gary Peters of Michigan – “Today is National Maritime Day. So I just want to take a moment to thank all of our dedicated maritime workers in Michigan who power our state’s robust maritime industry and help keep us economically competitive on the world stage. Your work is invaluable to our community. So please know that I’m working to ensure you have the support and the resources you need to be successful.”

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – “Alaska’s maritime workforce is responsible for thousands of Alaskan jobs, billions in economic output for our state, and a stronger national security presence. On this National Maritime Day, I’m grateful for the maritime workers who supply Alaskan communities with essentials, protect us from harm, and make our state a better place.”

U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska – “The hard-working men and women of the maritime industry keep our state and our communities connected, our supply chains humming, and support our military’s operations when they are called upon. Happy National Maritime Day!”

Representative Rick Larsen of Washington – “In [Washington’s Second Congressional District], the maritime sector means jobs & drives long-term economic growth, supporting more than 2,600 jobs & delivering more than $700 million in economic activity annually.

U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin – “The maritime industry is crucial to [Northeast Wisconsin], providing a significant number of jobs and economic activity to the community.”

Statement by U.S. Representative Shri Thanedar of Michigan – “Congressman Shri Thanedar expresses his utmost appreciation and admiration for the men and women contributing to Michigan’s maritime sector. Their unwavering dedication, expertise, and hard work drive the state’s economic success, creating jobs and stimulating local economies. As an advocate for economic growth and job creation, Congressman Thanedar remains committed to supporting policies that foster the growth and prosperity of the American domestic maritime industry.”

U.S. Representative Michael McCaul of Texas – “American Maritime in Texas’ 10th district generates hundreds of jobs and contributes $136 million to our economy. On National Maritime Day, we recognize and appreciate the important role mariners play in the strength of our nation.”

U.S. Representative Randy Weber of Texas – “From our sailors and captains to shipbuilders and port workers, this day is a tribute to their unwavering commitment and invaluable contributions. Our maritime industry is critical to our economy and national security.”

U.S. Representative Jack Bergman of Michigan – “Michigan’s First Congressional District is home to shipyard workers in Menominee, dock workers in Marquette, lock operators in the Soo, the Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City, and sailors throughout the District. They are woven into the fabric of Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, powering our economy and connecting our past with our future.”

U.S. Representative Daniel Webster of Florida – “Today, on National Maritime Day, we honor the history and highlight the importance of our country’s maritime industry on our economic and national security. In my district, the maritime industry supports over 1200 jobs and $150 million in economic activity.”

U.S. Representative Clay Higgins of Louisiana – “Maritime infrastructure plays a significant role in South Louisiana’s economy. Our district is a testament to the importance of the maritime industry in preserving our heritage, bolstering our national security, and supporting thousands of good-paying American jobs.’ The Jones Act ensures a skilled maritime workforce that stands ready to support our national defense and commerce by providing a strong domestic shipbuilding industry and a reliable skilled workforce. My office has made dredging and proper maintenance of water management systems a top infrastructure priority as ports and waterways are vital economic engines that serve our waterways. We’ll continue to advocate for the needs of our ports and maritime assets by working with industry, state, and federal partners to improve dredging efforts and grow commercial activity for the region.”

General Jacqueline Van Ovost, Commander of U.S. Transportation Command – “The U.S. maritime industry lies on the leading edge of our economic prosperity and rides the bow waves into the fight when called upon. The strategic advantage of our Merchant Mariners and Strategic Sealift Officers is critical to force projection and ‘fight tonight’ readiness.”

Laura DiBella, Florida Secretary of Commerce & CEO of Enterprise Florida – “Our nation would not be where it is today without its robust maritime industry. Economic development would not exist without maritime as there are not enough planes, trains, or trucks on this planet to support the amount of cargo moved by ships. This industry is an important economic driver for the state, and it is crucial to move goods throughout the country. Enterprise Florida is proud to celebrate National Maritime Day and those who have dedicated their careers to serving others.” 

Mike Stevens, CEO of the Navy League of the United States – “This National Maritime Day is not just a day to reflect on the legacy of those who have supported our military and moved the goods for every American. This year, and in the face of the threats we face, we should renew our commitment to ensuring a maritime capacity that ensures American strength and resilience.”

Jim Weakley, President of the Lake Carriers’ Association and Vice President of the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force – “The Great Lakes Navigation System is the pilot light of North American manufacturing.  In addition to supplying our steel mills, flour mills, power plants, and construction industry, we deliver family-sustaining jobs. The women and men who sail our Fourth Sea Coast are the bedrock of our regional supply chain. The Jones Act ensures our American-made, American-owned, and American-crewed lakers protect our national economy from China, Russia, and other adversaries.”

In addition to National Maritime Day, World Maritime Day, a United Nations day of commemoration, will be celebrated on September 28.

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