Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, announced that he, along with 25 bipartisan members of Congress, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Office of Management and Budget urging the agencies to develop and support a plan to design and replace the ships used by the United State’s six State Maritime Academies (SMAs).
“The maritime industry continues to be a key part of our nation’s economy,” said Rep. Crowley. “That’s why we need to ensure that SMAs such as SUNY Maritime College have the resources necessary to continue developing highly skilled mariners – and that means replacing the vessels where they are being trained.”
In the letter, the lawmakers expressed concern over the aging multi-mission vessels being used to train future generations of maritime workers and 70 percent of new U.S. Coast Guard licensed officers each year. While the average age of the ships is 35, SUNY Maritime College’s Empire State VI, which serves as the training ship for other maritime schools, is 52 years old - well past its useful lifespan.
“…[T]he SMAs have begun the process of recapitalizing the academy training vessel fleet, and we strongly urge you to request the funds for a new ship design and multi-year replacement budget in your FY2016 budget request,” wrote the lawmakers in the letter.
Each year, the maritime industry generates over $100 billion in output, employs 1.5 million Americans, and according to estimates from the U.S. Department of Labor, will grow by 15 percent over the next four years.