John A. Panneton at the PMMC Chartering Ceremony, 11 December 2006
- John A. Panneton, National President, Navy League of the United StatesRemarks at Pacific Merchant Marine Council Chartering Ceremony, 11 December 2006
It is great honor for me to be here in the Bay Area at Fishermans Wharf and to stand aboard Jeremiah O'Brien, the last of a great line of Merchant Marine Liberty Ships.
We are here to charter the Navy Leagues newest council - the Pacific Merchant Marine Council. The Navy League is all about dedicated citizens increasing public awareness of this Nations maritime heritage and providing support and assistance to the men and women of our Sea Services.
As we charter this new council - our 270th - we welcome its 44 members in the same spirit of Americanism that Theodore Roosevelt envisioned 104 years ago when he helped the Navy League survive and flourish. Our mission remains relevant today as it was in 1902 and as relevant as it was when this great Liberty ship sailed the globe carrying combat supplies and materials to Allied fighting forces during World War II.And a big part that mission is to remind our neighbors and our government leaders that the economic well-being and national security of this great Nation depends on strong sea services. I know that it is no easy task to form a council and certainly not easy keep one operating effectively.. It takes the sweat and dedication of a team of dedicated citizens all volunteers all patriots.Id like to thank some key people who through their diligence and steadfast support have really made this day possible:
And of course, Id like to recognize and thank the new members of the council for their dedication and willingness to take this important role of citizen support to our sea services.
- Vice Admiral Al Herberger, our National Corporate Secretary and Chairman of the Merchant Marine Committee
- Admiral Thomas Patterson, USMS (Ret.)
- Rear Admiral Frank X. Johnston, USMS
- Don Hale, President, Pacific Central Region
- Captain Kerry OBrien USMM (Ret.)
- Captain Michelle Lockwood, Area President,
active member of the Merchant Marine Committee, and now a key player on our
Maritime Policy Committee.
So now that youve signed up, let me tell you a little about what is in store for you. This council has been created to focus on one of the most challenging mission areas of the Navy League: increasing public awareness, understanding, and support for our merchant marine force and the maritime industry in general.
The United States is the worlds largest maritime trading economy. Whether its transporting commercial or military cargo, by land or sea, our economy and the defense of our nation is dependent upon ensuring an efficient, safe and secure domestic and international marine transportation system. Every citizen is affected by this structure; yet sadly the critical importance of addressing the key challenges facing our maritime industry and infrastructure are completely LOST on most Americans.Im even more saddened to report that even your colleagues in the Navy League who embrace the Merchant Marine and maritime industry as part of our mission frequently are only moderately familiar with the complex challenges we face in this area. We had the new Maritime Administrator, Mr. Sean Connaughton as our speaker last month at our Winter Meeting in Washington. I think this it the first time weve had the Administrator as a speaker in recent memory! Our decision to invite him reflects both the Navy Leagues commitment to providing support to the Merchant Marine and our awareness that we have a lot of work to do within our own organization, "inside the lifelines" as they say in the Navy.Administrator Connaughton was very frank in his comments about the challenges we face. Connaughton made it clear that the Nation has too long ignored or underfunded critical components of our maritime industry and infrastructure and that unless we reverse this trend both our economy and our Nations security will suffer. He welcomes the support of the Navy League at both the national level and the Council level and was particularly pleased that we are invigorating our education efforts in this critical area.The establishment of this Merchant Marine Council is another great step in that effort but there is still a lot of work to be done. Our National Maritime Policy statement clearly outlines the Navy League position on the importance of the U.S. Flag Merchant Marine and the maritime industry. Now we also have you, the Pacific Merchant Marine Council, to help push this agenda forward.I applaud you for your interest and willingness to take on this challenge. Please know that you will have my total support. You are all now part of a vibrant organization, an organization that has maintained its strength and relevance for more than 100 years. As long as America remains a maritime nation and that is likely to be for quite some time given the realities of our geography! the Navy League must continue to sound the call to the public and our elected officials.Always remember our greatest strength is the commitment we have to ensure that our superb patriots, the great men and women of our Navy, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, and Marine Corps have the weapons, platforms, and training to fight and win and come home alive!Thank you for your kind attention, your willingness to volunteer and serve, and your commitment to a strong and free America!Good luck and God bless this Council!John A. PannetonNational PresidentNavy League of the United States