WASHINGTON (April 4, 2017) – Thomas A. Allegretti, Chairman of the American Maritime Partnership (AMP) and President & CEO of The American Waterways Operators (AWO), today called the industry’s relationship with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Customs and Border Protection “one of our most important partnerships” because of the role they play in U.S. homeland security. Mr. Allegretti’s comments were made at the U.S. Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition, an event that brings together the U.S. defense industrial base, private-sector U.S. companies and key military decision makers.
Mr. Allegretti, representing AMP, was joined by current and former officials from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) to discuss “Maritime Transportation: Partnerships in Preserving U.S. Commerce.”
The panel presented an opportunity for Mr. Allegretti and fellow participants, including RADM Paul F. Thomas of the USCG, Mr. Jim Caponiti of the American Maritime Congress, and Mr. Anthony Fisher of MARAD, to discuss the importance of partnerships in the U.S. marine transportation system. Mr. Allegretti’s remarks focused on the collaboration between and among America’s commercial maritime industry, the Coast Guard and CBP to strengthen economic, national and homeland security and provide critical training and safety programs to support the U.S. merchant marine.
“The absence of a Jones Act would leave a ‘huge gaping security’ hole in American homeland security,” said Mr. Allegretti. “This partnership between our American companies, crews, and government is valuable almost beyond measure. It is a partnership that is smart, efficient and, most important, makes our nation more secure.”
“Today there is an array of maritime training institutions and programs that produce American mariners – the best mariners in the world,” continued Mr. Allegretti. “The symphony of training programs is interconnected and coordinated under the oversight of our primary federal partner, the U.S. Coast Guard, along with the Maritime Administration. This partnership is the reason American mariners are the most competent, the most proficient and the best trained in the world.”
“Beyond the tactical concerns that inland water way access would provide, without the Jones Act… there is a strategic concern over the potential loss of control of U.S. commerce to a foreign economy,” said Mr. Fisher.
During keynote remarks on Monday afternoon, Admiral Paul Zukunft, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, distinctly stated, “I do not advocate for the repeal of the Jones Act. We will lose our mariners. We will lose our shipyards.”
Earlier this week while speaking on the “Sea Services Update” panel discussion, Joel Szabat, Executive Director of MARAD, highlighted the importance of the Jones Act to ensuring military shipbuilding capacity and sustaining a qualified U.S. merchant marine base.
“The Jones Act ensures a U.S. flagged fleet and domestic trade, including large tankers that employ the qualifier mariners we need, said Mr. Szabat. “[It] supports a peacetime shipbuilding industry so our shipyard and superbly trained workforce stay in business during lulls in military shipbuilding.”