Commissioner Doyle: U.S. Merchant Marine and 2017 Hurricane Relief Efforts
October 6, 2017
Good Morning New York and New Jersey. It’s a great day here in Jersey City. I know that Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao really wanted to attend the 17th Annual Port Industry Day conference today. Even with a long-standing commitment, she tried to make her schedule work. Secretary Chao is a good friend.
Before I begin, I want to address this year’s hurricane season. It’s been a tough one – Harvey, Irma and Maria. I am proud of the work performed during the recovery efforts by the U.S. Merchant Marine. The Merchant Marine consists of American mariners serving aboard U.S. government owned vessels and on ships in the private sector. The U.S. Merchant Marine answers the call – when the bell rings, the U.S. Merchant Marine climbs the ladder, we don’t ask why, we ask how high. As of today, here some facts related to the three hurricanes that have ravaged through the Caribbean Sea and into the East and Gulf Coasts of the United States:
Crowley Maritime, U.S.-Flag, Jones Act Ocean Carrier:
- Within three days of Hurricane Maria ravaging Puerto Rico, Crowley had reportedly moved more than 3,000 loads of food, supplies and other cargo into the island. The barge EL CONQUISTADOR departed Pennsauken, N.J., three weeks ago for San Juan, Puerto Rico, loaded with relief cargo including 118 FEMA loads of water and dry goods, to help the Caribbean recover from Hurricane Irma.
- Crowley quickly established a strong flow of food and aid cargo to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. They had more than 2,200 full container loads of relief and general cargo awaiting distribution at their Isla Grande terminal in San Juan. And they had six vessels carrying another 2,200 loads on the way.
- Crowley Maritime worked around the clock to coordinate quick delivery of relief supplies to officially designated points of distribution around St. Thomas in the wake of Irma. Nearly 800,000 pounds of food, water and tarp materials were unloaded and distributed and the company immediately began pre-stocking the island in advance of Hurricane Maria.
- Crowley dispatched more than 18 Jones Act petroleum vessels to discharge gasoline and diesel into Florida ports in response to fuel shortages and evacuations caused by Hurricane Irma. The volume is enough to fill the tanks of more than 7 million vehicles.
TOTE Maritime, U.S.-Flag Jones Act Carrier
- TOTE Maritime is reportedly providing logistical support for the government for all cargo and containers they are distributing as well as providing transportation for communications and power companies bringing supplies to the island.
- TOTE Maritime reports that it continues to coordinate with the Red Cross and other relief organizations to ensure the timely and consistent arrival of goods to the island. The Isla Bella arrived on Sunday October 1 with more than 1,040 FEUS of cargo. In two days more than 550 containers have left TOTE Maritime's facility in San Juan for distribution in communities and delivery to stores. In addition, the PERLA DEL CARIBE is scheduled to arrive on Friday with 1,060 FEUs of cargo. These shipments include bucket trucks, electrical poles, food, water, ice and fuel amongst other critical items for the island.
- Provided transportation of relief and recovery goods for more than 20 organizations including businesses, FEMA and various non-governmental organizations.
- Engaged key power contractors to support increased generator capacity on island terminal operations seven days a week to allow for distribution of goods throughout the week.
Ready Reserve Force Vessel (RRF) SS WRIGHT: The Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration vessel called on the port of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas to off load cargo. The vessel was loaded with FEMA containers, vehicles, and stores. Among the cargo is a replacement radar system for the Federal Aviation Administration.
TS KENNEDY: The Massachusetts Maritime Academy training ship KENNEDY was dispatched to Puerto Rico by the Maritime Administration after it concluded onsite duties in Texas. The KENNEDY will remain onsite in Puerto Rico to provide power, food, clean water and berthing to first responders.
TS EMPIRE STATE IV: The Maritime Administration dispatched the TS EMPIRE STATE VI to Puerto Rico. The ship is 565-feet long and serves as the training ship for New York State Maritime Academy (SUNY Maritime College). It is capable of housing more than 650 people.
HOSPITAL SHIP COMFORT: The U.S. Navy’s COMFORT has been sent to Puerto Rico to provide care and hospital service to Puerto Rico. The vessel is crewed by civilian mariners.
Hurricane Maria Quick Facts and Puerto Rico:
- Domestic U.S. Flag maritime companies moved approximately 9,500 containers of goods into Puerto Rico to help the territory and its residents with the recovery from the damage wrought by Hurricane Maria.
- In the immediate aftermath, one state-of-the-art large container ship arrived on Sunday September 24, 2017, with over 35 million pounds of cargo. This is the equivalent carrying capacity of 1,900 cargo planes.
- In anticipation of the island’s needs, the domestic American maritime industry stowed approximately 3,000 containers filled with goods in the terminals prior to the Hurricane landing. Jones Act vessels have the capacity to carry more than 4,000 containers per week to Puerto Rico.
William P. Doyle is a Commissioner with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission. The thoughts and comments expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.