Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, commander, Transportation
Command. “We need sealift in the short term, and in the
long haul, to support current and future military operations. MARAD’s vision looks to achieve both.”
One large shipper focused on the document’s overall goal of a stronger U.S. maritime industry.
“We share MARAD’s assertion that the maintenance
and growth of a strong U.S. maritime industry is vital to
ensuring global commerce, economic expansion and
assured national security for the United States,” said
John Reinhart, president and CEO of Maersk Line Ltd.
“MARAD’s vision document highlights the importance of
key efforts such as the Maritime Security Program,
Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement and investment
in U.S. marine transportation infrastructure and ships.”
Reinhart noted that Maersk, as owner/operator of
30 ocean-going U.S.-flag commercial ships, is committed to working closely with MARAD to promote public and private investment and build a stronger U.S.
marine transportation system.
The leader of the nation’s largest mariner unions said he
liked the vision’s call for more trained merchant mariners.
Seafarers International Union President Michael
Sacco said, “Especially in the post-Sept. 11 world, it’s
easy to understand why our country absolutely must
maintain a viable pool of reliable, well-trained, U.S.-citizen seafarers. MARAD’s report reflects the complete
truth of that sentiment.”
The director of port development for Massachusetts,
however, was less enthusiastic about what he feels is
MARAD’s focus on international container shipments
as opposed to domestic moves.
“I believe they continue to miss the mark regarding
coastal shipping,” said Richard S. Armstrong. “Most of
MARAD’s emphasis has been on the movement of interna-
tional containers. On I-95, that is less
than 8 percent of the truck traffic.
Domestic roll-on/roll-off of 53-foot
trailers is where results will show [in
improving America’s marine highway
Connaughton said MARAD
already has begun to implement
some of the ideas outlined in the
“Our first step here is to identify the bottlenecks and then engage
the broader effort to look at solutions,” he said. “No one has ever
looked at freight movement shore
side to and from our ports to see
where the problems are.”
As a part of its so-called National
Port Strategy, MARAD took a lead
role in streamlining the process for the issuing of permits
for the expansion of the Port of Anchorage, Alaska,
Connaughton said, adding that a “conservative” estimate
of having MARAD provide that service was that it
“shaved five years” off the process.
Connaughton said MARAD was providing a similar
service in Honolulu, and there was interest in getting the
agency involved in Guam as well, which needs better
port capacity in light of the ongoing U.S. military buildup on the island. He added that there was some “interest
in Congress” in granting MARAD “blanket authorization” for similar projects around the country.
Even before the vision document was released,
MARAD could boast concrete steps toward realizing
some of the goals in the document
Last December saw the enactment of the Energy
Independence and Security Act of 2007 stipulating the
establishment of a formal marine highway program
within the federal government. Specifically, it requires
the establishment of a program and the designation of
transportation projects to mitigate landside congestion. The program will encourage the development
and expansion of vessels, shippers, port and landside
infrastructure and marine transportation strategies by
state and local governments.
In land-locked West Virginia, for example, MARAD
is assisting in the Heartland Corridor project, which
aims to enlarge small railroad tunnels there to accommodate double-stacked containers heading to the
Midwest from the Hampton Roads, Va., area as well as
eliminate any other clearance obstacles
MARAD also has been helping broker agreements
between shipping companies and the maritime colleges to increase the availability of on-the-job training
opportunities at sea. ■
Trucks exit the Port of Long Beach, Calif., in April 2006. As traffic continues
to increase at U.S. ports, a new document, “The Maritime Administration and
the U.S. Marine Transportation System: A Vision for the 21st Century,” focuses on easing congestion throughout the transportation system.