The lack of understanding was clearly evident during a recent visit by President Obama to the Newport News Shipbuilding facility in Virginia. The facility employs 22,000 people in the state. The purpose of the President's visit was to draw attention to sequestration's impact on the military. The president, however, did not talk about the impact on the U.S. merchant fleet. Shipyards like the one in Newport News also build commercial vessels. When shipyard employees are laid off, neither military nor commercial vessels are built.
While Congressional leadership is drafting legislation gutting the shipbuilding industry, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania) is currently working on legislation to improve the state of our waterways infrastructure. According to the Chairman, "(i)mproving the efficiency of our locks and dams, inland waterways, ports, and waterborne transportation is essential to maintain and improve U.S. competitiveness in the global economy." These improvements, however, can't be made if U.S. crews and vessels are not available to transport goods along America's vast waterways system.
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Keywords: international trade, U.S. maritime trade, ocean transportation, transportation management, U.S. inland waterways, global logistics
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