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US SECNAV Calls Bold 'New Maritime Statecraft'

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

September 26, 2023

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro called for a “new maritime statecraft” to prevail in an era of intense strategic competition, during remarks at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Sept. 26, 2023. (Photo: Shannon Renfroe / Office of the Secretary of the Navy)

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro called for a “new maritime statecraft” to prevail in an era of intense strategic competition, during remarks at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Sept. 26, 2023. (Photo: Shannon Renfroe / Office of the Secretary of the Navy)

U.S. Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro on Tuesday called for a “new maritime statecraft” to prevail in an era of intense strategic competition.

During remarks at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, Secretary Del Toro stated that maritime statecraft, in a broad sense, encompasses not only naval diplomacy, but a national, whole-of-government effort to build comprehensive U.S. and allied maritime power, both commercial and naval.

“Our new maritime statecraft should be bold, founded on a strong Navy and Marine Corps to fulfill our national security interests,” said Secretary Del Toro. “It should also be equally strong on engagement in areas of economic development, trade, and climate diplomacy to enable us to compete more successfully on a global scale.”

Secretary Del Toro reiterated to the audience that the Biden Administration is committed to finding comprehensive solutions through pragmatic diplomacy.

Call to action
“Like President Kennedy, my time as a naval officer and now as Secretary of the Navy has been defined by a deep appreciation for and personal commitment to the ‘power of naval diplomacy’ to make the world a more free, democratic, and prosperous place for all to benefit,” said Secretary Del Toro. “And that is why I stand before you today, to call for a new vision of maritime statecraft to address the challenges our nation faces in the 21st century. Your Nation calls you once again—our best and brightest strategic thinkers at the intersection of academia and policy making—to help us build our maritime statecraft of the future.”

During his remarks, Secretary Del Toro outlined a few steps to take as a nation to revitalize our maritime industry.

Invigorating U.S. shipbuilding
“The maritime industry is a strategic sector critical to our economic and national security. It is vital to achieving resilient global supply chains, and is ripe with opportunity to partner with a greater number of shipbuilders here in the U.S. and with our closest allies overseas, including Japan and South Korea. It also requires urgent U.S. public investment and international statecraft to attract the necessary private capital. We, in the Biden Administration, are leading efforts to grow our nation’s strategic advantage at sea.”

U.S. Navy coalition building
“Because of our values and commitment to ensuring that the maritime commons are free and open for the benefit of all, we, the United States Navy, are the partner-of-choice for many fellow maritime nations, and we are seeking out new strategic partnerships as part of our maritime statecraft. Just this past week, I met with over 90 heads of navies at the International Seapower Symposium, where we committed to working together.”

Maritime statecraft strategy development (education)
“As our Department charts a new course on how we can best advocate for and integrate ourselves into a more comprehensive national approach to maritime statecraft, we are conducting a deliberate review of how we approach training our strategists throughout our Navy and Marine Corps, and how we utilize them after they graduate from schools like this one.”

Moving forward
Before concluding, Secretary Del Toro stated, “In the words of President John F. Kennedy, ‘we stand today on the edge of a new frontier, the frontier of unknown opportunities and perils’.”

“Your Department of the Navy is at flank speed on this journey, and I ask you to join us.”