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Navy Secretary Del Toro speaking in front of an American flag

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro speaks to guests during a naturalization ceremony held aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan

Navy Secretary Backs U.S. Maritime Revitalization Plan

John Konrad
Total Views: 2397
May 19, 2024

In the Senate Armed Service committee meeting on Thursday Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro endorsed the call to action plan published by members of congress this month calling for immediate action to reverse the decline of America’s maritime power.

In the hearing, Senator Mark Kelly emphasized the need to invest in the US Merchant Marine. He expressed concerns about its size and status, noting that these pose a risk to national security. He also referenced a bicameral report titled “Congressional Guidance For A National Maritime Strategy,” which offers a comprehensive vision to revitalize the nation’s maritime sector. Furthermore, he requested that the secretary review the guidance.

“I have read the recommendations,” responded Del Toro enthusiastically. “And I agree with all ten of them.”

The bipartisan group of lawmakers who wrote the report, including Congressman Mike Waltz, Senator Mark Kelly, Senator Marco Rubio, and Congressman John Garamendi, issued the call to action for a comprehensive national maritime strategy to address the decline of America’s maritime power. Highlighting the urgent need to rebuild the U.S. maritime industry, the guidance document underscores the vital economic and national security interests at stake.

Related Article: Bipartisan Congressional Group Releases Visionary Report for Revitalizing U.S. Maritime Sector

The Decline of America’s Maritime Power

Decades of neglect by both government and private industry have significantly weakened the U.S. shipbuilding capacity and maritime workforce. The result is a dwindling U.S.-flag shipping fleet, critical for transporting American goods and supporting military operations during conflicts. The situation is exacerbated by the rise of China’s maritime capabilities, including the People’s Liberation Army Navy and the Chinese merchant marine, which outnumber their American counterparts.

“We must act now, before it is too late, and make a once in a generation investment in the future of America’s maritime power,” Says Congressman Mike Waltz, in the report.

According to the report and data from the Office of Naval Intelligence, China’s shipbuilding capacity is 230 times greater than that of the United States. This imbalance threatens the U.S.’s ability to compete in the global ocean economy, valued between $3 trillion and $6 trillion.

This document calls for government leaders to swiftly acknowledge the issue. It appeals to the President to establish a National Maritime Council, which should be led by a Presidential appointee, for the formulation and execution of a national maritime strategy. Additionally, it asks Congress to review and fully finance maritime agencies that back the maritime industry, including the US Coast Guard, US Maritime Administration, and Federal Maritime Commission.

This is significant because recent maritime development initiatives have faced challenges due to the underfunding and understaffing of these and other crucial maritime agencies. For instance, the US Maritime Administration has less than 2 percent of the workforce of its sister agency, the FAA. These issues also affect understaffed maritime desks within other departments, such as the State Department and Treasury.

Strategic Objectives and Cooperation

The strategy highlights the importance of international cooperation with allies and partners to prepare for resource competition, especially in the Indo-Pacific and Polar regions. A major focus is on sharing the responsibility of maintaining global maritime security and protecting vital maritime infrastructure. While these nations collaborate closely with the U.S. Navy, there’s minimal coordination between allies in areas like economy, commerce, shipbuilding, and the Merchant Marine. An example of this issue is that CEOs of the world’s largest shipping companies frequently visit China to meet with CCP maritime officials. However, to our knowledge at gCaptain, not one of them has met with the US Maritime Administration in DC.

The guidance from Congress underscores that America’s maritime strength is crucial to its national security and economic prosperity. A comprehensive and coordinated national maritime strategy is essential to restore and enhance the U.S.’s maritime capabilities, ensuring the nation’s continued access to and control of the world’s oceans.

The full guidance document is a call to action, urging immediate and significant investment in the future of America’s maritime power.

You can read the full report here:

Congressional Guidance For A National Maritime Strategy

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