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Focus on the Future of America’s Maritime Industry

Focus on the Future of America's Maritime Industry

The last few months have brought sharp focus on the future of America’s maritime industry, first with the Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) Fiscal Year 2022-2026 Strategic Plan published on March 15, 2024 and then with a bipartisan Congressional report on April 30, 2024 outlining a long-term national maritime plan to rebuild the U.S. maritime domain.

To conduct its study and inform a new national maritime strategy, MARAD selected the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA), an independent, nonprofit Federally Funded Research and Development Center sponsored by the Department of the Navy with expertise in researching sealift needs for national security.  To complete its year-long work, the CNA engaged with numerous public and private stakeholders in the maritime community.  

MARAD’s new national maritime strategy is designed to position the U.S. maritime industry as a global leader for decades to come.  It reflects the goals and strategies necessary to foster, develop, and promote the United States maritime industry and merchant marine to meet our Nation’s economic and national security needs.

“MARAD recognizes that a strong U.S. maritime industry is critical to America’s national security strategy. Our Nation’s maritime industry faces many challenges, not the least of which include aging Ready Reserve Force ships and a mariner shortage which reduces our ability to adequately crew those ships during a national emergency,” MARAD explained.  “MARAD remains committed to exercising new and existing authorities to narrow these shortfalls. In response to today’s challenges and continuing the work already underway, this plan establishes the strategic priorities and framework necessary to meet MARAD’s mission and help shape the future of the maritime industry.”

To read the MARAD report, click HERE.

As the U.S. Department of Transportation agency responsible for America’s waterborne transportation system, MARAD supports the technical aspects of America’s maritime transportation infrastructure—ships and shipping, port and vessel operations, national security, environment, and safety. It promotes the use of waterborne transportation and ensures that its infrastructure integrates seamlessly with other methods of transportation. MARAD also maintains a fleet of cargo ships in reserve to provide surge sea-lift during war and national emergencies, and is responsible for disposing of ships in that fleet, as well as other non-combatant government ships as they become obsolete.

MARAD also works to maintain the overall health of the U.S. Merchant Marine. Because commercial mariners, vessels, and intermodal facilities are vital for supporting national security, the agency provides support and information for current mariners, extensive support for educating future mariners, and programs to educate America’s young people about the vital role of maritime operations in the lives of all Americans.

Guice Offshore, the U.S. Flag leader in the operation of dynamically positioned mini supply vessels for the “specialty” marketplace, is part of America’s maritime industry.

Congressional Maritime Report and Recommendations

Concurrently, the aforementioned bipartisan Congressional report entitled “Reversing the Decline of America’s Maritime Power” urged the development of a national maritime strategy to rebuild maritime independence that reflects the importance of America’s national security and economic prosperity that relies on open and free waterways.

Offering a slate of recommendations, the report advocated a generational investment in U.S.-flag shipping, shipbuilding, and the maritime workforce needed to reassert America’s maritime power.

To read news coverage of the report from Workboat Magazine, click HERE.

As explained HERE by, a maritime publication, the strategy includes incentivizing U.S.-flagged shipping, restoring commercial shipbuilding capacity, and expanding the maritime workforce required to build, operate, and maintain U.S. ships.

The report sets out ten things Congress can do now to help boost the United States’ maritime prowess. These include developing a long-term National maritime Strategy, expanding and protecting the domestic maritime workforce, growing domestic shipbuilding and U.S.-flagged shipping capacity, investing in the Maritime Transportation System, creating innovation incubator programs, assessing threats in Polar Regions, ensuring Naval forces can defend freedom of the seas, de-risking the U.S. maritime sector, and advancing the rule of law, allies, trade, quality of life, and universal access to global commons.

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