House Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Chairman Elijah Cummings said Wednesday that not enough U.S. cargo is carried by U.S.-flag ships and the decline is "both a security risk and an economic risk."
"Since the 1980s, the U.S.-flagged fleet has been carrying what can only be described as an increasingly miniscule portion of our foreign trade, and this fact has serious implications both for our merchant marine and indeed for our nation's economy," the Maryland democrat said.
Referencing President Obama's call to double exports in the next five years, Cummings said, "We should also work to formulate a meaningful U.S. maritime policy that will revitalize our merchant marine and expand the percent of U.S. trade carried in U.S. ships."
David T. Matsuda, the Transportation Department's Maritime Administrator, told Cummings that while "our national policy is to maintain a U.S.-flag merchant marine sufficient to carry our waterborne domestic commerce and a substantial part of our foreign commerce," international trade carried on U.S.-flag ships has plummeted from 57.6 percent in 1947 to less than 2 percent today, and there are no U.S.-flag carriers listed among the top 20 global carriers.
The decline has reduced shipboard jobs for Americans and the source of personnel to meet military sealift needs, he added.
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