Each year on May 22 the US celebrates National Maritime Day. May 22 was declared National Maritime Day in 1933 to honor the SS Savannah’s departure from Georgia to England in 1819 to become the first successful steam-powered ship to successfully cross any ocean.
The US Merchant Marine has been a pillar in the country’s foundation of prosperity and security. They power the world’s largest economy and strengthen ties with trading partners around the world, all while supporting our military forces by shipping troops and supplies wherever they need to go.
During World War II more than 250,000 members of the American Merchant Marine served their country, with more than 6,700 giving their lives, hundreds being detained as prisoners of war and more than 800 US merchant ships being sunk or damaged.
President Biden issued a proclamation saying: “On National Maritime Day, we honor the thousands of dedicated merchant mariners who serve on United States vessels around the world. During times of both peace and war, merchant mariners are always there — stepping up to transport equipment, troops, and goods across the globe to make our country safer and stronger.
“With professionalism and passion, merchant mariners have forged us into the maritime nation we are today. During the Revolutionary War, merchant vessels joined the vastly outnumbered American fleet to help defend our independence. During World War II, as our brave service members battled the forces of fascism, more than a quarter-million members of the Merchant Marine volunteered to transport tanks, ammunition, and troops across the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. Many of them made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of freedom. And today, merchant mariners not only help move hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of cargo through our 25,000 miles of waterways and more than 360 commercial ports annually — they also crew vessels of our United States Ready Reserve, shipping vital military cargo to help the people of Ukraine defend themselves against Russia’s brutal war.
“My Administration remains steadfast in its support of the Merchant Marine as well as the Jones Act, which ensures American workers see the benefits of our domestic maritime industry. We are also making historic investments to improve our maritime supply chains by making it easier, faster, cheaper, cleaner, and safer for ships to get in and out of our ports. We are strengthening our support for licensed Merchant Marine Officers, including requesting $196 million in my 2024 Budget to upgrade the United States Merchant Marine Academy’s campus, expand training, and help prevent sexual assault and support survivors — because every person at the Academy deserves to feel safe and have their contributions fully valued. We are also working to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the ranks of the Merchant Marine because our economy and national security are strongest when we draw on the full skillsets and diversity of our nation.
“The United States Merchant Marine underpins our Nation’s prosperity and upholds our Nation’s highest principles — freedom, liberty, and dignity. Today, and every day, we honor merchant mariners’ service and sacrifice and renew our commitment to stand by their side, from sea to shining sea.”
The American Maritime Partnership (AMP) also recognized the critical importance of the economic and national security benefits the 650,000 men and women of American Maritime deliver to the nation. “This National Maritime Day we are reminded that America, from sea to shining sea, needs a strong domestic maritime industry amid continuing economic challenges and growing national security threats,” said Ku’uhaku Park, President of the American Maritime Partnership, “Today is a day to thank our mariners and maritime workers for their sacrifices during wars, the pandemic, and other national emergencies. Though America is increasingly divided, there is one thing everyone can agree on – we cannot rely on China and Russia to build, own and crew our ships. The Jones Act fleet has served the country time and again and we are honored to represent an industry that serves such a vital economic purpose in securing hundreds of thousands of jobs, while proving an asset to America’s national security and resilience.”
According to the findings of a recently updated study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) on behalf of the Transportation Institute (TI), the American Maritime industry:
•Contributes more than $154 billion in total economic output annually
•Creates $41 billion in labor income for American workers each year
•Adds $72 billion annually to the value of U.S. economic output
•Sustains nearly 650,000 American jobs, with one shipyard job creating four jobs elsewhere in the economy.