News from The American Maritime Partnership, May 22, 2012
IT’S NATIONAL MARITIME DAY: May 22 is National Maritime Day in the United States. Every year since 1933 America has paused on this date to honor its maritime industry. Congress selected May 22nd as it was on this day in 1819 that the U.S.-flag steamship SAVANNAH sailed from Savannah, Georgia, on what was the first-ever transoceanic voyage under steam power. That historic voyage was just the first of many maritime milestones attributed to the U.S. merchant marine. In the decades that have followed, American companies and mariners have pioneered such innovations as the containership, self-unloading vessel, articulated tug-barge units, railroad-on-barge carfloats and many other breakthroughs. No wonder the domestic fleet governed by the Jones Act moves a quarter of the nation’s freight for just 2 percent of the national freight bill, and in the process creates and sustains nearly 500,000 jobs.
But also indispensable is the national defense of role the U.S.-flag merchant marine and the allied shipbuilding industry. Without them, America could not defend its interests worldwide. During Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (2002-2010), U.S.-flag commercial vessels, including ships and seafarers drawn from the domestic trades, transported 90 percent of all military cargoes moved to Afghanistan and Iraq. Today the contribution of America’s maritime industry is just as important as it was 79 years ago. Please join us in saluting the American maritime industry.