The MTD Executive Board recognized the concept that for the U.S.-flag merchant fleet to remain vital and grow in the 21st century, the country’s shipyards must be ready and available to meet the challenge.
Meeting in San Antonio on March 9 and 10, the board again called the federal government to initiate a national maritime policy.
“Having a national maritime policy will make it far more efficient to maintain, boost and revitalize all segments of American maritime, from the shipyards to the docks to the vessels,” noted the “National Maritime Policy” statement passed by the board.
That document pointed out the industry “employs more than 260,000 Americans, providing nearly $29 billion in annual wages.” Additionally, “a vast majority of these vessels are engaged in domestic commerce, moving more than 100 million passengers and $400 billion worth of goods between ports in the United States on an annual basis.”
In a separate statement, the board called for support for the domestic shipyards, many of which are under union contracts. “The shipbuilding and repair industry supports jobs in all 50 states, with a total of more than 110,000 jobs nationwide, and contributes $37.3 billion to the GDP,” it pointed out.
“These facilities continue to lead the way with technological advances that help ensure crew safety, protect the environment, and further open doors to alternative fuels,” it added.
To emphasize these points, TOTE President and CEO Anthony Chiarello told the board and guests during his address on March 10 that his company is sailing the world’s first LNG-powered containerships. They were built with the Title XI Shipbuilding Loan Guarantee Program under a union contract at General Dynamics NASSCO yard in San Diego.
Chiarello said TOTE is “quite proud of” these vessels and the union crews aboard them. He noted “people from around the world are coming to see the world’s first LNG-powered containerships.”
Looking out at the audience of labor and maritime officials, Chiarello proclaimed, “Partnerships between management and labor are the only way both are going to be successful. It is not beneficial if I have a contentious relationship. This is something I believe very, very strongly about.”
Chiarello, who received the 2015 Herb Brand Memorial Award from the Maritime Port Council of Greater New York/New Jersey and Vicinity, boosted about the union crews aboard TOTE vessels, “We have the best trained mariners in the world.”