Wanted: More U.S. Mariners

I read with great interest the May 2002 issue of Sea Power, which was largely dedicated to the subject of rebuilding the U.S.-flag Merchant Marine. Please accept my compliments on the insightful reading that you have provided your subscribers.

Especially worth noting is the feature entitled “The Continuing Decline of the U.S.-Flag Merchant Fleet” by Bob Little that alerted your readers to a serious threat to our national security-namely, the severe shortage of U.S.-citizen merchant mariners needed to crew sealift vessels during wartime.

In the wake of September 11, it should be the concern of every American that 96 percent of the cargo entering U.S. ports is brought in under foreign-flagged vessels manned by foreign crews. For example, the Philippines is one of the largest single sources of merchant mariners in the world, and we are all aware that U.S. troops are now on the ground fighting terrorism in that very nation. For this reason alone, our country cannot rely on foreign crews often drawn from the very nations that terrorists may have infiltrated.

We cannot permit this situation to continue as our nation moves forward in the war against terrorism. As recent events have shown, the need for a strong U.S.-flag Merchant Marine, crewed by loyal U.S.-citizen seafarers, is more critical today than ever before.

Ron Davis

President, Marine Engineers’

Beneficial Association

Washington, D.C.

A Seabee, Not a Marine

Barclays painting on the Sea Power cover for August 1943 (Sea Power May 2002) shows not a Marine attacking an enemy position, but a Naval Construction Battalion member, or Seabee, jumping off his bulldozer and firing his carbine in defense of the perimeter, most likely Henderson Field on Guadalcanal.

For almost 60 years I have noted, on numerous occasions, the misidentifying of Seabees as Marines, or even as Army Engineers. I imagine that most of the confusion is due to a lack of familiarity on the part of the press, both military and civilian, with the Navy Seabees.

Arthur G. Keen

Detaw Island, S.C.

Copyright Navy League of the United States Jul 2002

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