mariners, or reduces the need for a
portion of our mariner pool?
As you consider the purchase
of used commercial ships, as
you said in your testimony, if
it is regardless of [country of]
origin of the ships to recapi
talize the Ready Reserve Fleet,
how would that impact the
American shipbuilding base?
McDEW: I was primarily going
after those ships that are currently
sailing for us in the Maritime
Security Program [MSP]. Those are
already U.S.-flagged ships with
U.S. crews and currently serving
the nation every day. If we were to
acquire used, that would be where I
might target that acquisition. And,
ultimately, we believe it’s a bridge
to building new ships.
This is not in replacement of
building new ships; this is a bridge.
Because I don’t believe the budget
is going to allow us to build the
Navy [and] build our fleet of ships
that we need to build simultaneously. So there is going
to have to be a strategy. We are working with the Navy
to make sure that the strategy is holistic.
Congress has authorized MSP funding to
increase for the first time in years. Will
this be enough to sustain the program?
McDEW: I ought to thank Congress for taking the steps
they’ve made because the Maritime Security Program
stipend increase offsets the costs that our commercial
providers have in maintaining their U.S.-flag status.
Does it cover everything? The maritime industry tells
me it does not.
Through at least 2025, it gets us a stable program
with a stipend that at least allows these companies
who want to continue to sail under the U.S. flag with
U.S. mariners to stay with us. And, so, I appreciate
Post-2025, I believe we ought to restructure and
relook the program to see what incentives ought to
be there for new technology, for new advancements
in either autonomy or other things that can enhance
national security, because my ultimate goal is increasing national security. The viability of the shipbuilding
industry is important to that.
Let’s talk about cybersecurity. What, in
your estimation, are our cyber vulnerabil-
ities given the close partnership between
TRANSCOM and the commercial sector?
McDEW: If you look at our whole of government,
the cyber domain is in its infancy. We’re still learning, growing, evolving as a government and a nation
in how to deal with this cyber threat. If we take that
umbrella and understand how much of the commercial
sector and the industrial base is part of my national
security apparatus, then it makes a little bit more
sense from my viewpoint.
There are two segments the way, I see it. There is
the Department of Defense [DoD] network and then
there is everybody else. I rely on a lot of the “
everybody else,” so .mil is important to me and .com is
important to me. I don’t think we treat, across the
nation, .com as stringently and with as much diligence
as we do .mil.
There are pockets in there that DHS [Department
of Homeland Security] is responsible for that they do
a good job with, but there is stuff outside their scope
that is important to national security and the defense
of the nation that I think we’ve got to look at holistically as a whole government.
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