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US Navy Promises To Strengthen Merchant Marine And Coast Guard Partnerships

US Navy Promises To Strengthen Merchant Marine And Coast Guard Partnerships

John Konrad
Total Views: 4752
April 3, 2023

U.S. Navy Undersecretary Erik Raven spoke today at the opening ceremony of the US Navy League’s Sea Air Space conference in Maryland, emphasizing the importance of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) in naval planning and strategy.

Raven began his address by acknowledging the critical role the Coast Guard and MARAD play in supporting the country’s naval power, explaining that from the nation’s founding to the present day, these organizations have been integral to national security. MARAD, he noted, is responsible for promoting the development and maintenance of a strong Merchant Marine, a key component of national security.

“We are proud to serve alongside our other sea services,” said Raven. “MARAD and the Coast Guard are partners the US Navy does not take for granted.”

Undersecretary Raven went on to share a personal anecdote from his time learning to fly in Northern California, where he first encountered the Maritime Administration’s work with the National Defense Reserve Fleet. He highlighted the importance of the reserve fleet in providing maritime logistics and fulfilling the nation’s strategic sealift requirements, allowing the transportation of people and equipment wherever they are needed.

In addition to strategic sealift capacity, Raven emphasized the role of the Maritime Administration as a fellow investor in the domestic shipbuilding industrial base. He cited the tens of millions of dollars in grants that the organization provides annually to modernize small shipyards and train skilled workforces to support them. However, Raven did not mention how the Navy will work to provide personnel, budget or political influence to support MARAD.

Raven also quoted the head of MARAD Commandant Phillips, who stated in January that “investing in these shipyards ensures our nation maintains expertise and skills that are critical to both our economy and our national security.”

In addition to MARAD, Raven praised stressed the importance of strengthening partnerships between the United States Marine Corps, the United States Navy, and the United States Coast Guard. He referenced the December 2020 updated tri-service maritime strategy, “Advantage at Sea.” The revised strategy recognizes the challenges the U.S. faces from the People’s Republic of China, Russia, and malign actors such as Iran and North Korea, and charts a course for how the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard can integrate their efforts to meet these challenges head-on. Raven however, did not mention if the US Merchant Marine will be included in the next maritime service strategy or discuss why it was not mentioned in the 2020 document.

As Undersecretary Raven continued his testimony, he stressed the importance of supporting the Coast Guard’s fleet modernization efforts by providing Navy-grade weapons, sensors, and communication systems. As the Coast Guard replaces legacy platforms with more capable, modern cutters equipped with this advanced technology, the ability to seamlessly integrate and mutually support one another across a variety of missions is significantly enhanced.

Raven also underscored the central role of the Coast Guard in fostering international partnerships, helping other maritime nations address issues such as piracy, smuggling, and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing – all of which negatively impact the global economy. The goodwill generated by the Coast Guard and Merchant Marine not only benefits the Navy and Marine Corps in expanding their network of partners but also demonstrates that the United States is a trustworthy and responsible leader in the maritime domain. Citing Adm. Fagan’s statement from last month’s first Coast Guard address, Raven noted, “We may be small, but we are incredibly capable.”

Raven expressed his honor in serving with the sailors, Marines, and their families and looked forward to sharing the success of these partnerships at next year’s Sea Air Space conference.

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