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MARAD Administrator, RADM Ret. Mark Buzby

Acknowledging the work done collectively by maritime unions,
companies, ports, shipyards, military and government, U.S. Maritime
Administrator Mark Buzby saluted the work of the U.S.-flag maritime
industry to keep commerce moving during the worldwide coronavirus
pandemic.

Buzby addressed the Washington, DC, Propeller Club via a video
conference call on July 2.

“I am very proud of this industry,” Buzby said. “It speaks well to the
teamwork.”

The retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral noted the constant contact with all
involved parties throughout the crisis. Among those taking part in
Maritime Administration (MarAd) calls have been the unions and
shipping companies with representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, the
U.S. Transportation Command, State Department and Department of
Homeland Security among others. He pointed out these call helped
“build trust” among the various parties.

Buzby thanked the efforts of American mariners, some of whom had to
remain aboard vessels longer than expected because of restrictions
implemented by foreign countries that impeded crew changes.

“This is a tribute to our carriers to pretty much stay in the game,” he added.

While listing how cargo for U.S.-flag carriers has declined during the
pandemic, he declared, “The future will be better. We have
bottomed-out.”

The administrator updated the Propeller Club on efforts to
recapitalize the nation’s Ready Reserve Force (RRF). He said plans are
for MarAd to purchase two ships for the fleet before the end of the
year. He gave a shoutout to U.S. Reps. Joe Courtney (D-CT) and Rob
Wittman (R-VA) for their work in Congress to address the sealift
situation.

“We are shining a spotlight on this issue. It is a very critical part
of our national defense,” Buzby stated.

He praised the RRF crews for keeping the current fleet, whose average
ship age is 47 years, up and running.

Buzby also discussed the new multi-mission vessels to be built by the
union-contracted Philly Shipyard for use as training ships by the
nation’s maritime academies.