MARAD Announces De-Funding of U.S. Merchant Marine
MarEx received disturbing news on Labor Day about the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) defunding the U.S. Merchant Marine (USMM) due to sequestration cuts.
This will be the defunding of the Ready Reserve Fleet (RRF) and the Maritime Security Program (MSP). This will not only result in the loss of ships and the reductions to billets for merchant mariners, but it may cause shipping companies that currently operate U.S.-flagged vessels to cease operations. MARAD sketched out scenarios where MSP could lose upwards of 15 vessels.
There is an effort to get Congress and the Obama Administration to act in a positive way, but the political atmosphere on the Hill is toxic and there is a significant chance no resolution will be reached. More than one observer in Washington, D.C. has noted that the nation has entered uncharted budgetary waters here because MARAD and other federal agencies have not had to make these kinds of cuts before, so there is no precedent to follow.
Politics and the inability of the Congress to make choices and give clear direction to federal agencies are pointing to a dire situation. The impact of congressional inaction will hurt the job prospects of everyone working in the USMM, not just the members working aboard MARAD vessels.