Remarks as Provided by Chairman Daniel B. Maffei: Celebrating Maritime Day 2021
The remarks of Chairman Daniel B. Maffei made as part of the National Maritime Day celebration are available for viewing at:
His remark as delivered are below:
Often in dire circumstances, the leadership that matters most does not come from flag officers, statemen or CEOs – But from the men and women that do their everyday jobs very well even during the most challenging times.
This has historically been a hallmark of the United States Merchant Marine. During the COVID-19 crisis, merchant mariners have continued to serve in that spirit. And that same spirit of service in times of crisis has also been seen in thousands of workers who facilitate maritime trade in our great country.
From the earliest days of the pandemic’s arrival in the United States, we relied on men and women doing their jobs even though they may not work in fields usually deemed “front line” or “essential”.
Port workers, longshoremen, equipment operators, truckers, railroaders and warehouse workers—people working throughout the supply chain—made sure that food, medicine, personal protective equipment, ventilators, and eventually vaccines got where they needed to be.
The Nation’s freight delivery system is intermodal at its foundation, and the contributions of all types of transportation workers are necessary to its functioning. Given how critical international supplies were needed at various points in the COVID crisis, we saw our maritime workforce really distinguished itself.
From East Coast to West Coast, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes, America’s ports have remained open and operational for the entirety of the pandemic. Cooperation between port employers, labor organizations and the workers themselves established the conditions necessary to permit cargo to continue to flow and for inputs as well as finished goods to reach manufacturers and markets.
Special recognition should be given to the mariners who serve aboard merchant vessels. In the best of times, the life of a seafarer is not an easy one. It is hard work that can be dangerous and solitary. As a society, we are dependent upon the services these men and women perform but have far too little appreciation for the skills they possess or the sacrifices they make. We owe these workers a debt of gratitude.
And today, we especially pay tribute to American Merchant Mariners who have played an important role in this crisis while continuing to support national security and other vital American interests.
As we celebrate National Maritime Day, we should celebrate not only the American Merchant Marine as an institution, but the uncommon personal traits – courage, selflessness, resilience, reliability, and patriotism -that are the common threads binding together each member of our maritime workforce.
Daniel B. Maffei is a Commissioner with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission. The thoughts and comments expressed here are their own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.