The worldwide impact of COVID-19 is having a significant and extremely negative effect on the operation of militarily-useful U.S.-flag commercial vessels enrolled in the Maritime Security Program (MSP) and their U.S. citizen crews. They need assistance to remain in a state of operational readiness available to provide the commercial sealift readiness capability as needed by the Department of Defense. The Covid-19 emergency has significantly diminished commercial seaborne trade, and most U.S. military and civilian government cargo on which the MSP ships depend. Moreover, without the assistance during this situation, which shows no realistic signs of ending any time in the immediate future, there is a serious risk that the already dangerous shortfall in the number of trained and qualified American merchant mariners will worsen, thereby jeopardizing sealift readiness.
We are asking House members to support emergency relief payments to offset the negative impacts of COVID-19. These payments are essential to maintain the U.S.-flag vessels enrolled in the MSP in a constant state of operational readiness, which includes the continued full employment of a vessel’s crew. We urge Congress to authorize and appropriate $220 million to provide $1.83 million to each MSP vessel for both FY 2020 and 2021 in the next CODVID-19 response package.
Why You Should Take Action
Without assistance U.S.-flag vessel operators will not be able to maintain laid-up vessels in the readiness status needed by the Department of Defense, and the licensed and unlicensed American merchant mariners will be facing protracted unemployment. Speak up to support our merchant marine today!