PORT OF LOS ANGELES
Trucks line up to enter the terminal gates of the Port of Los Angeles. With truck traffic expected to double by 2035, the Maritime
Administration’s Marine Highway Program aims to promote maritime transport as a means of reducing congestion and pollution.
The grant money included as part of the transportation appropriations bill is for shipyards. Of particular
importance to the Marine Highway Program is the construction of fast shallow-draft vessels that can move
containerized cargo between ports, according to Aaron
Ellis, director of communications for the American
Association of Port Authorities (AAPA).
The defense act authorizes $60 million for the Title
XI Federal Ship Financing Program — a significant
nod in favor of the domestic maritime industry, according to the Maritime Trades Department (MTD) of the
American Federation of Labor and Congress of
“Despite the program’s well-documented success since
being revived in 1993, Congress and successive admini-
strations have sometimes failed to allot any monies for it
beyond bare-bones administrative costs,” the MTD said in
a Dec. 16 statement. “The program’s inclusion in the
defense funding bill is a victory for shipyard workers and,
indeed, for all Americans since it promotes important U.S.
economic and security interests, including new jobs.”
Congressional appropriators followed suit by
approving $5 million in loan guarantees to allow U.S.
vessels and shipyards to obtain long-term financing up
to $80 million to grow and modernize the U.S. maritime industry. Lawmakers also approved $15 million
in grant assistance to qualified U.S. shipyards for capital and infrastructure improvements.
Meanwhile, the defense authorization bill also establishes a port infrastructure grant program to provide
public and private funds to ports to increase efficiency,
security and access.
While MARAD has the lead in the Marine Highway
Program, the Coast Guard also has a critical role in the
effort. With more ships using U.S. waterways, the
Coast Guard will be engaged in policing the waterways, catching smugglers as well as ensuring overall
security. It also will ensure the proper movement of
vessels and provide navigational aid.
In many respects, the Coast Guard will play its traditional role, albeit intensified by greater sea traffic.
“The Coast Guard is a partner with MARAD in the
efforts to support the maritime highways,” said Lisa
Novak, a spokeswoman for the service.
The Coast Guard also issues the mariner credentials
and is “committed to the success” of that program,