(Washington, DC) – A top U.S. military leader has again emphasized the need for a strong U.S. merchant marine. At a National Maritime Day luncheon hosted by the Propeller Club in Washington, USAF General Duncan J. McNabb, Commander, U.S. Transportation Command, said U.S. maritime laws have been vital to the strength of the U.S. maritime industry. “I obviously think cargo preference, [the Maritime Security Program], the Jones Act – all of those things are absolutely essential for having a very strong merchant marine,” declared General McNabb.


The American Maritime Partnership (AMP) also marked the 78th anniversary of National Maritime Day by crediting the strong U.S. Merchant Marine for helping to support national, homeland security and economic security. National Maritime Day, which was observed on Sunday May 22, recognizes the men and women of the United States Merchant Marine for their contribution to American trade and the U.S. military.


“A strong U.S. maritime industry has been critical for America in times of war and peace, from the civilians who defended freedom in 1775 to merchant mariners who support military and humanitarian efforts throughout the world today,” said James Henry, President of the Transportation Institute and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Maritime Partnership. “On National Maritime Day, we can look back on the extraordinary achievements and contributions of our merchant marine as well as focus on the keeping our industry strong so we can continue to support the American economy and our national security in the 21st century.”


From the earliest days of the United States, shipping has been essential to the U.S. economy. Today, the maritime industry is the most economical and environmentally friendly form of domestic transportation, moving more than 1 billion tons of cargo annually at a fraction of the cost of other modes. The domestic maritime industry transports about one-quarter of America’s domestic cargo for just 2 percent of the national freight bill. Fundamental U.S. industries depend on the efficiencies and economies of domestic maritime transportation to move raw materials and other critical commodities.


During World War II, the U.S. merchant marine executed the largest sealift the world had ever known, and thousands gave their lives to help convoys with desperately needed supplies reach U.S. troops. Ninety-five percent of the equipment and supplies required to deploy the U.S. armed forces is delivered by ship. U.S.-flagged and government-owned vessels, manned by more than 8,000 U.S. citizen mariners, continue to play a significant and indispensible role in strategic sealift support for Afghanistan and Iraq operations.