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Lawmakers in House, Senate emphasize importance of cost-effective Maritime Security Program to U.S. defense sealift operations

In separate letters sent in March and April, bipartisan groups of U.S. senators and congressional representatives sought to achieve full funding at the authorized level of $300 million for the Maritime Security Program in fiscal year 2018. Both letters emphasized the vital importance of the MSP and the fleet of 60 U.S.-flagged militarily useful commercial ships the program supports to U.S. defense sealift operations and capabilities.

"MSP is a vital component of our military strategic sealift and global response capability," stated 14 senators in a letter to Susan Collins (R-ME), chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, Urban Development and Related Agencies, and Jack Reed (D-RI), ranking member on the subcommittee. "It is designed to ensure that the United States has the U.S.-flag commercial sealift capability and trained U.S. citizen merchant mariners available in times of war or national emergencies. MSP also ensures that the United States can provide our troops overseas with the supplies and equipment necessary to do their jobs on behalf of our nation."

"MSP is a public-private partnership between the U.S. government and the U.S.-flag shipping industry whereby the Department of Defense (DOD) is provided assured access to privately-owned commercial shipping assets, related global intermodal systems, and the active pool of U.S. citizen mariners necessary to support America's defense objectives around the world," stated 77 congressional representatives in a letter to Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, Urban Development and Related Agencies, and David Price (D-NC), ranking member on the subcommittee.

"This cost-effective program utilizes existing U.S. maritime private sector capabilities at a fraction of the cost of what it would take if the federal government were to replicate the vessel capacity and global intermodal systems made available to DOD by MSP contractors who continuously develop and maintain modern logistics systems for commercial and defense purposes. The cost to the federal government of replicating just the vessel capacity is estimated at $13 billion. The United States Transportation Command has estimated an additional cost of $52 billion to replicate the global intermodal system that is made available to the DOD by MSP participants. In contrast, the MSP, at the funding level authorized by Public Law 114-113, will provide DOD with U.S.-flag, U.S.-crewed militarily-useful commercial vessels and worldwide logistics systems at a fraction of the estimated $65 billion it would cost the federal government to do this job itself.

"Without a viable U.S.-flag commercial fleet and the American merchant mariners this fleet supports, the United States would be unable to deploy its military forces on a global basis and to deliver the supplies and equipment American troops need to do their job on behalf of the American people."

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