US marine highways program "short sea transportation" grants
- Ahoy Friends and Members,Not that our council was instrumental in seeing funding as described below was incorporated into the DOD authorization bill, but we have been on top of the situation since the early days of the council. We even devoted a luncheon program this year to the subject.The Navy League has been supportive as clearly stated its Maritime Policy Statement. Finally results! We thank the League's Merchant Marine Committee and its chairman Vice Admiral Herberger.Our luncheon program December 21 will focus, as in years past, on USCG Pacific Area priorities. Then in 2010 at our luncheons we will continue addressing current merchant marine topics. If you would like to propose a topic, obtain speakers, or otherwise assist please let me know. At our board meeting, after the December 21 luncheon, we will address council's 2010 agenda.Heave ho!Phelps
Defense Bill Provides Short Sea BoostGrants program for Marad included in Pentagon spending plan
The marine highways program, domestic shipbuilding and port infrastructure development were big civilian winners in the Department of Defense authorization bill that President Obama signed Oct. 28.
The Defense measure also increases vessel and crews ability to defend themselves when sailing in waters where theres a high risk of piracy.
The new law establishes the short sea transportation grants through which Marad will provide funds to help get commercially viable marine highway ventures under way. The program will provide grants to fund up to 80 percent of a short sea shipping project, on the condition that the project is financially viable, and the operator has shown that a market exists for the services evidenced by contracts or written statements of intent from potential customers.
As further encouragement to the nascent marine highways program, the defense bill authorizes $60 million for the Title XI program. This is the first substantial infusion for Title XI in about six years. Conservative members of Congress have called Title XI a case of corporate welfare, and the Bush administration refused to provide new money, but Title XI is widely supported by the U.S. domestic maritime industry as a way to finance vessels built in U.S. yards.
The Defense authorization also establishes a port infrastructure grant program to provide public and private funds to ports to increase efficiency, security and access.
U.S.-flag ships carrying government-impelled cargo will have wider latitude to defend themselves against pirates, according to the new law. Vessels are authorized to use non-lethal defense measures, carry arms, or use private security to defend themselves. The Coast Guard will establish training standards for armed security personnel, but the law falls short of authorizing the use of members of the U.S. military. The law also calls on the U.S. to negotiate bilateral agreements with other nations to authorize U.S.-flag ships to carry weapons into ports.
The law authorizes $174 million for the Maritime Security Program, $15 million for disposal of obsolete ships, $74.5 million for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy operations, plus $11.2 million for maintenance, and $15.4 million for capital improvements.
Marads Marine View system has been given expanded scope. MarView launched last year to aggregate data from maritime exchanges and several sources to provide government agencies and the public the ability to track vessels in U.S. waters real time, and provide a single source of information for the marine transportation system.