March 13th 2019

Representatives of the maritime labor unions, U.S.-flag shipping companies, the maritime schools and industry trade groups headed to Capitol Hill on March 6 to advocate for the U.S.-flag fleet and the men and women who crew American vessels.

The occasion was the “Congressional Sail-In,” now in its 10th year, an advocacy campaign aimed at consolidating relationships with friends of our industry in Congress and establishing new ties with legislators who in the past may have had only moderate awareness of maritime issues.

Over the course of the day, representatives of the U.S.-flag fleet held nearly 200 separate meetings with members of the House and Senate and their staffs.

The schedule included meetings with legislators on key committees charged with oversight and legislation that affects the U.S. maritime industry, as well as conversations with many newly elected members.

More than 150 men and women from across the industry participated in the discussions: they included licensed mariners, labor relations professionals, ship owners and operators, retired Coast Guard and Navy officers and experts on maritime training and education.

The discussions centered on the strategic national imperative of having a strong American Merchant Marine, along with the benefits to our country—including the significant return on investment–of the Maritime Security Program (MSP), which must be fully funded by Congress on an annual basis.

Another priority: dispelling myths, misconceptions and misunderstandings about the Jones Act and Cargo Preference.

Sail-In participants urged Congress to ensure that as our government works to promote “Buy American” and “Hire American,” it also guarantees that U.S. cargo is “Shipped American.”

Shipping American is an important way to create jobs in our country, bolster the economy and strengthen our commercial sealift capability.

The group also appealed for the long overdue recognition of the significant contributions of World War II merchant mariners, including award of the Congressional Gold Medal.

The Sail-In, which was organized by MIRAID President Jim Patti, included executives from all the major U.S.-flag shipping companies and officials representing all the seafaring unions.

MM&P was represented by: International President Don Marcus, Vice President-Gulf Klaus Luhta, Vice President-Great Lakes Tom Bell, Vice President-Pacific Maritime Region Tim Saffle, Pacific Coast Representative Jeremy Hope, Atlantic Maritime Group Representative Paulina Czernek and MIRAID staffers Steve Wines and James A. Patti.

Representing the Captain Richard Phillips-Lane Kirkland Maritime Trust were Executive Director Rear Adm. Wendi Carpenter and Board Chair Klaus Luhta.

The two attended meetings with senators and also spoke at length with Congressman John Garamendi (D-Calif.), a strong advocate for the maritime industry.

“The Sail-In gives us a unique opportunity to share important information with members of Congress who may not have regular interactions with the maritime industry or awareness of its important role in our nation’s economic prosperity and security,” Luhta said.

“We are honored to be able to participate and help raise awareness of the value, benefits and strategic role of the United States Merchant Marine.”